Cubs historical sleuthing: 1947 edition

Feb 5, 2023 - 4:00 PM

The info that came with this photo is titled “Cubs in first place 1947” and says:

Cubs legend Phil Cavarretta slides hard on a stolen base attempt at Wrigley Field during the 1947 season.

At the bottom of the link is the original newspaper photo this came from, with the caption:

CUBS FLYING HIGH In fact, first place in the National League. They climbed to top notch with heads up ball such as Phil Cavarretta’s terrific slide into second base for a steal against the Phillies. Skeeter Newsome is making leaping catch of Catcher Andy Seminick’s high throw. Cubs won, 6-3.

The photo is credited to the Chicago Times, one of the two newspapers (the Sun was the other) that combined to create what we now know as the Chicago Sun-Times. That merger happened in 1948.

Phil Cavarretta wasn’t much of a base stealer through his career, stealing just 65 bases (and being caught 54 times, not a very good percentage) in a 22-year career. In 1947 Cavvy stole just two bases, so this game was easy to find.

This steal happened Saturday, June 14, 1947 at Wrigley Field.

Cavarretta had singled with one out in the bottom of the fourth. One out later, he did what you see above, stole second base. A walk to Dom Dallessandro and a wild pitch put runners on second and third, and an intentional walk loaded the bases. Lennie Merullo came to bat ... and popped up to end the inning.

Eddie Waitkus and Marv Rickert homered in this game and the Cubs took a 6-1 lead into the ninth. Two Phillies homers, a walk and single brought the tying run to the plate, but Emil Kush got Johnny Wyrostek to pop up to end the game with a 6-3 Cubs win in front of a smallish crowd of 8,104.

This win put the Cubs in first place in the National League with a 29-21 record, half a game ahead of the Giants. They proceeded to go 40-64 the rest of the way and finished sixth in the NL at 69-85.

No Cubs fan on June 14, 1947 would have guessed this, but that would be the last time any Cubs team would be in first place that late in the season for the next 20 years! It wouldn’t happen again until the Cubs beat the Reds at Wrigley Field July 2, 1967 to go into a first-place tie and 40,000+ fans refused to leave the park until the scoreboard operators moved the Cubs flag to the first-place spot atop the board.

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