Monday, November 15, 2010

Foto Fun

I got an e-mail asking me to figure out when this baseball book cover photo on the Awful Library Books site was taken. I'm always up for a detective challenge. Try to figure it out yourself and then read my answer below. (Or, for rational people, just read the answer.) (Or, for even more rational people, just skip the whole thing and go pretend to social network or something.)

Dr. Awesome's answer*:

Okay, we've got Mike Schmidt sliding safely into home, with Gary Carter holding the ball. Clearly the game is at Veteran's Stadium in Philadelphia. The book came out in 1982. Notice Carter's red and blue sleeve stripes. The Expos didn't add that to their uniform until 1980. So we know this pic must be from '80 or '81. Before even starting to search the usual literature (Roylance Guide, Tobin's Spirit Guide, Spates Catalog), it hit me that the Phillies played the Expos in the 1981 Eastern Division NLDS. The higher profile the game, the greater chance of documentation. So even though we can't see any definitive physical evidence of this being a playoff game, we can gather that if a photographer is at a Phillies-Expos day game, she or he is probably there for a reason. As are all those fans. And a cover photo for a 1982 baseball book? The previous season's playoffs is the perfect candidate.

So you can try to find evidence of this play happening in the regular season in '80 or '81 (opening weekend '80 is a candidate), but I'm putting all my money on the '81 playoffs.

Now to find which game--Schmidt scored a run in Game 3 and two in Game 4. You can eliminate his home run in Game 4, leaving us with a run he scored from second on an error by the pitcher in Game 3 in the 7th, and a run he scored from second on a single in Game 4 in the third. The first one is less likely, but it still could be the play...until you realize that Game 3 was a 4:05 game (had to get this from news searches). Sunset in Philly that day was 6:30. The game went two hours and forty-five minutes. At that point in the game, it would have been close to dark. You'd see light reflections and people would be more bundled up (got down to 38.8 degrees that night per Old Farmer's Almanac weather history). Game 4 was a 1:05 game and the play happened in the third inning. Ground ball single to right, Schmidt's on second, Rose scores ahead of him, and he goes sliding into home before Carter can make the tag. A check on the home plate umpire--it was Bill Williams that day. There's one picture of him online, and the sideburns/hair match. (Game 3 was Bruce Froemming--I'd say this is not him in the picture.)

So here's your game: Game 4, Eastern Division NLDS, Saturday, 10/10/1981, bottom of the third inning, approximately 2:00 p.m. eastern daylight time, Keith Moreland singles to right off Stan Bahnsen. (The left fielder was Terry Francona.)

Thanks to Sabrina for the challenge!

*I need a nickname for my baseball photo detective persona. Until I come up with one, we'll go with Dr. Awesome.

Career Post-Season Batting Averages

Terry Francona .308
Derek Jeter .309
George Michael of Sports Machine fame used to be a baseball photo detective. Maybe you should call yourself Andrew Ridgely.
That's amazing...

My mom's idea was "Inspectah On-Deck"! I'm still trying to figure out how she could possibly know who Inspectah Deck is...

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Location: Rhode Island, United States