I came across the picture above in a box of old photos that were scattered across my basement floor. I went through the photos, remembering places I’ve gone and people that I once knew, but can’t remember who they are anymore and–even more regrettably–people who aren’t with us anymore. If you ever really want to mark the passage of time, dig out an old photo album or a box of old prints.
This image caught my eye because of the TORCO sign across the street from the right field wall. As a kid growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, the TORCO sign represented Wrigley Field in a way that nothing else did. Living far away from Chicago, I was unaware of the CTA train that runs past the ballpark. I would see a shot of Lake Michigan from time to time, but the environs around the ballpark were unknown to me, except for that TORCO sign.
I didn’t even know what TORCO was back then. All that mattered was that they had a sign that looked out across Sheffield Avenue and into the place where the Cubs played their home games. That was enough for me.
The TORCO sign went away long ago. It has been replaced by a Miller Lite billboard, which seems to change whenever a new opponent comes to town. And there aren’t very many images of the TORCO sign online, either. It’s one of those things that, since it existed before the internet really took hold, it might disappear over time, if everyone who knew about it dies out, without first passing something on about it. So consider this as my way of keeping a small little piece of the past alive, even if it has already been taken away.
From the outfield scoreboard, I was able to make out the name of the batter as Deion Sanders. With that in mind, and knowing what his statistics were as they appeared beneath his name, I was able to date this photo to May 29, 1997. The time appears to be 7:10, which was the start time of the game. Deion grounded out on a 1-2 pitch, so the pitch coming in was one of the game’s very first ones.
So this picture, taken more than 15 years ago, is a window into the past at Wrigley Field. And so, to recognize the way the ballpark once looked–and to commemorate the fact that Deion Sanders was once a baseball player–I offer this picture as evidence of both. Do with it whatever you will.