February 07, 2011
With pitchers and catchers only moments from reporting to spring training, nothing else says baseball like an investigative essay about the time Ferris Bueller took in a ballgame at Wrigley Field.
Yes, Larry Granillo of Wezen-Ball has done it again. Piecing together details from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and the Baseball-Reference website, Larry does his best Sherlock Holmes-ian deducing to conclude which Chicago Cubs-Atlanta Braves game that Ferris, best bud Cameron Frye and special lady friend Sloane Peterson "saw" in the 1986 film.
You're probably thinking: What took someone so long?
What a cool way for Larry to introduce himself to readers at Baseball Prospectus, where he also now contributes:
It appears obvious now that this is a real ballgame that Ferris is at, not just something recreated for a film crew. The Harry Caray play-by-play and the Braves players on the field are pretty solid evidence of that. So what game, then, are they watching? Did the Cubs win, or did Ferris sing "Danke Schön" as a way to wash away the stink of a Cubs loss?
Note: The baseball scenes begin at the 2:17 mark.
The movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" was released on June 11, 1986. The ballgame then must have been filmed either real early in the 1986 season or sometime during 1985. Looking at game logs from those seasons, we see that there was no game in 1986 in which Lee Smith (#46) faced the Braves at Wrigley Field. There were four such games in '85, though Smith left the Braves hitless in one of those. Of the remaining three games, it isn't hard to find the game we're looking for.
It might not have been "hard," but Larry appears to be the first person in the history of the Internet to publish such a finding. His conclusion: It was a June 5, 1985 game that the Cubs lost (of course they did) 4-2 to the Atlanta Braves. Go on over and please read Larry's post for more of his detective work.
That's not to say that there might not have been any movie magic at play here: SB Nation's Al Yellon presents his case on why Matthew Broderick, Mia Sara and Alan Ruck likely shot their Wrigley scenes later in the year and the TV footage of the June 5 game was edited into the movie later.
As an aside, one of the minor things that always bugged me about "Bueller" — and about any movie shot in Chicago — is when they're driving along, say, Lake Shore Drive and then, in the next cut, they're going the opposite direction, only to switch back a second later. Not important to the movie; it's just art. It only matters to the synapses of a local who knows which way is which.
No such creative license was taken in filming the baseball scene, however. Featuring real players in a real game, it remains as pure as Bueller's intentions.