Do you consider yourself a 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' superfan? If you do, you probably know a lot about the history of the production. You probably knew that Ben Stein's entire economics lecture was improvised. You probably knew that the actors who played Ferris's parents ended up actually getting married after the movie. And of course, you know that the famous parade scene was filmed at the actual Von Stueben Day Parade in Chicago.
But even the most dedicated 'Ferris' fan doesn't know anything about the Cubs-Braves game that the trio watches on their school-skipping adventure. Were they actually at Wrigley Field during filming? Was it even a real game? If so, who won? That's because no one knew the answers; it was one of life's great unanswerable questions -- until now.
A sports-movie-trivia debate is raging that hasn't offered counterpoints this strongly since the Scopes Monkey Trial.
Larry Granillo over at BaseballProspectus has done a little investigating into whether that was an actual game that was being played while Ferris, Cameron and Sloane looked on. Using stats from Baseball-Reference, he says:
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... 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.
He concludes that it was a June 5, 1985, game that the Cubs lost, 4-2.
But wait! Al Yellon over at SBNation has uncovered a piece of information that throws Granillo's whole theory into upheaval. In a July 12, 1985 edition of the Chicago Tribune, there's an announcement that 'Bueller' will begin shooting in the city -- that September. He deduces:
the announcement of the filming of 'Ferris Bueller' wasn't made until more than a month after the June 5, 1985 game was played. The article says filming would begin in Chicago in September, and the parade in which Bueller jumped onto a float and sang took place during a real parade on September 28, 1985. It appears clear, then, that the three actors (and some extras) were at Wrigley Field sometime in September, likely on a Cubs off day...and the long shot, which shows the actors from the back and baseball action on the field in the distance, was probably edited, rather than actually experienced.
And that's the debate as it currently stands. Unfortunately, we'll probably never know the real answer. If only there was someone who was there on the fateful day in question who might be able to answer the question, but alas, the cast and crew of 'Ferris Bueller' have gone missing, ever since that horrid accident in the Bermuda Triangle during the filming of 'Ferris 2: Caribbean Style.'
In the meantime, while we recover from all this exhaustive detective work, you can watch the scene in question, and you see if you can uncover anymore clues.
The scene starts at 2:56, but we recommend starting at 0:40 because, really, why would you turn down watch a hilarious Ed Rooney moment?