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Cubs historical sleuthing: 1980s edition

You wouldn’t think there are enough clues here, but one thing gave it away.

This great shot of Wrigley Field was found here, on a completely unrelated story about a pitcher named Morris Madden, who pitched in 16 games for the Tigers and Pirates from 1987-89.

The caption reads:

Morris Madden pitched his final game of 1988 Oct. 1 at Wrigley Field. Photo is of Wrigley Field in August 1988. (Greatest 21 Days)

All of this is correct. Madden threw two-thirds of an inning against the Cubs Saturday, October 1, 1988, the second-to-last game of the season, his only career appearance against the Cubs. He allowed a hit and a walk but no runs. The Cubs won the game 9-7, thanks in part to a grand slam by Rafael Palmeiro, his last home run as a Cub.

That’s interesting, but it is not what this photo is about. As the caption says, it’s from Wrigley Field in August 1988. That’s not long after the lights were installed.

As you can see on the scoreboard, it’s 5:21 p.m. and the Cubs are on the field for BP before a 7:05 p.m. night game start. The Cubs are playing Houston. The only visible numbers are 18 (infielder Angel Salazar) and 3 (coach Jose Martinez).

The Cubs played two night games against Houston at Wrigley Field in August 1988, August 22 and 23. There are no scores nor pitchers posted on the board. So how can we tell which game this was?

Look at the umpire numbers. There’s clearly a single-digit number listed for the second base umpire, and though it’s a bit blurry, that’s 6. That was Bruce Froemming’s number, and he was the second base umpire for the game Wednesday, August 23, 1988.

The Cubs won the game 9-3. Andre Dawson and Damon Berryhill homered and Mitch Webster and Ryne Sandberg both had three-hit games. Jamie Moyer allowed 12 hits but threw a complete game.

The Cubs improved their record to 61-62 with that win and would win their next two to go a game over .500 at 63-62. They were far out of contention but at least a winning season was possible — nope, they went 14-23 the rest of the way and finished 77-85, in fourth place in the NL East, 24 games behind the division-winning Mets.

Here are Mike Bojanowski’s scorecard and ticket for this game. For a larger version of the scorecard click here.