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Wrigley Field historical sleuthing: Advertising edition

This was an interesting sleuthing challenge.

This image of the Wrigley Field scoreboard was sent to me by reader Michael Teixeira, who noted in his email, “I saw the attached picture in an ad and wondered if it is based on a real day or is it just made up? If anyone could figure it out, that would be you.”

Well, Michael, you’re right.

You have probably seen many ads featuring the Wrigley board, and often they just put random matchups on it that don’t match up with reality. This one was from Fanatics and pops up on Facebook.

In this case, though, this board does feature an actual gameday. Given that FLORIDA and ARIZONA are both on the board, this game would have had to be from 1998 (when the D-Backs joined the league) to 2011 (when the Marlins rebranded as MIAMI).

So I looked at all Cubs No. 40’s to see if there were any starting pitchers from that era who wore that number. There was, in fact, only one: Rich Harden, who pitched for the Cubs in 2008 and 2009.

All right, now we’ve got it narrowed down quite a bit. The next step was to look for a Milwaukee pitcher who wore No. 31 in those years. There’s only one of those, too: Dave Bush. Bush started three games in Wrigley Field in 2008 and 2009 and yes, I did find a match.

This is the board as it would have appeared at 1 p.m — just before game time — on Thursday, September 18, 2008. The Dodgers at Pirates game had started at 11:35 a.m. Chicago time and had completed six innings at that point, only one other game (Mariners at Royals, a 1:05 p.m. CT start) was under way.

This was actually quite an important game in the Cubs’ run to the NL Central title in 2008. They entered this game with a 91-59 record and a magic number of four over the Brewers. The Cubs trailed Milwaukee 6-2 going to the bottom of the ninth. With two out, Aramis Ramirez doubled and Jim Edmonds singled him in, making it 6-3. Mark DeRosa followed with a single and then Geovany Soto did this:

Soto’s three-run homer tied the game. It went to extras and in the bottom of the 12th, Derrek Lee singled home the game-winner:

The Cubs lost the next day to the Cardinals but clinched the division with a 5-4 win over St. Louis on Saturday, September 20.

So whatever ad that appeared in, whoever did it picked an actual gameday and an important one, too. Thanks again to Michael Teixeira for sending this in.