Indulge me, I'm in a slight 1974 kick
I can say with 99.99% certainty that this picture of Billy Williams was taken on Saturday, August 18, 1973.
This was one of the toughest "Name That Game" quests that I've been on, but also one of the most fun and most interesting.
The card doesn't give me much at all. Obviously, the game is at Wrigley Field, but there isn't an opponent in sight. So one of the biggest clues is missing. But scanning the card more carefully, I spied something that told me this had to be a Saturday game.
It was this...
....the TV camera. As a kid who watched a lot Cubs games on WGN, I knew that this was not a camera position that WGN used. In fact, in the '70s, WGN didn't use any field level cameras.
But NBC did, with their Game of the Week, on every Saturday. So this has to be a Saturday game. But which one? The Cubs played on Saturday at Wrigley Field thirteen different times in 1973.
It was another card that helped narrow it down,
this one of Claude Osteen. He too is at Wrigley, and I wanted to figure out the date of this game. He pitched at Wrigley twice in the '73 season, and one of the dates was a Saturday, August 18. So far, things are matching up. Now I need to find a schedule of NBC Games of the Week in 1973.
You would think that you could find a list of just about anything on the internet, but so far, no one has put together a list of all the 1973 Games of the Week. Rats!
I moved on to a search of the Google News Archives. I did a search for "Dodgers" and narrowed the date to August 18, 1973. The first paper that came up was the St. Petersburg, Florida Evening Independent. Once in the paper, I headed to the TV listings for the day. This is what I found....
click on the picture for a better look, and to see what all six channels were showing that day...yes all six channels!
...at 2:00 p.m. on the NBC station, WFLA, it was Major League Baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers vs. the Chicago Cubs!! Pretty convincing evidence that both the Williams and Osteen card were taken on August 18.
It gets better! The Cubs pitcher that opposed Osteen that day?
Burt Hooton! That would make three different 1974 cards taken at Wrigley Field, with no opponent visible, that I can say with 99% certainty were all taken on August 18, 1973.
And the game itself? This is where it gets real interesting. The Cubs won 2-1 as Hooton outdueled Osteen, pitching a complete game and giving up only one run on seven hits. Osteen gave up only five hits, but one of them was a two-run homer, hit in the bottom of the sixth inning by....want to guess who hit the homer???
Cue up the Twilight Zone music, because this is going to freak you out....
The game winning home run was hit by Billy Williams!!!!
Is this his home run swing? How awesome would that be!!