Theories on the Date of Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Ferris Bueller's Day Off turns 30 in a few days and I spent more time than I'd care to admit thinking about something related to this movie today. A few years ago, a very interesting article was published on the Baseball Prospectus site which compiled some sports-related detective work to determine the exact date of Ferris Bueller's infamous day off. Using the few seconds of Chicago Cubs baseball footage seen in the film, the folks at Baseball Prospectus concluded that Ferris took that particular day off on June 5, 1985.

Or, based on their follow-up article, possibly September 24, 1985.

But I challenge both.

While both are certainly possible based on the small amount of baseball footage, what about other key details in the film that could point to different dates? Possibly May? Possibly early September?

First, let's follow Jeannie down the hall as her friend tells her that Ferris, upon his death, may donate his eyes to Stevie Wonder. Take a look at the posters hanging on the wall.

Band Try-Outs in the Shermer Auditorium on May 27th...

The deadline for Art Magazine submissions also in May...

Moving on to Mr. Rooney's office, check out the calendar over his right shoulder.


Either it's May, or the students and faculty of Shermer High School need to do some serious housecleaning.

. . .

But I also mentioned the possibility of early September, right?

Let's jump to the scene where Ferris and his friends are in the back of the cab and find themselves just feet away from Ferris' father. Mr. Bueller is reading a newspaper in the back of his own cab...a copy of the Chicago Sun-Times with two very telling headlines:
  • "Space weapons test is cleared" (on the page folding down over the front)
  • "Baseball, shame, cocaine" (on the bottom under the article about Ferris)

Although I have not been able to track down a copy of the Sun-Times to verify these exact titles, I am confident that this newspaper was printed on September 12, 1985. Using Google's news archive, it is easy to look at a copy of other papers from the same date. Checking out that day's Pittsburgh Press, we'll find two very similar articles:
  • "Received pills from Stargell, Parker says" -- a baseball article continued later in the paper using the keyword "Cocaine"
  • "Space weapon test cleared by U.S. judge"

Your move, Baseball Prospectus.

No comments: