Today in White Sox History: April 15

 


1954
The White Sox reintroduced major league baseball to Baltimore for the first time since 1902, as they played at the new Baltimore Orioles as their first home opponent. The Orioles had moved from St. Louis that offseason. Virgil “Fire” Trucks got the start for the White Sox, but the O’s beat them 3-1 on the afternoon, starting a run of numerous unfortunate, strange and bizarre happenings for the White Sox at Memorial Stadium over the next 37 seasons.


1972
The first labor impasse to cause regularly scheduled games to be cancelled caused Opening Day of the 1972 season to be pushed back. In Kansas City, the Sox would lose to the Royals, 2-1, in 11 innings despite Dick Allen’s first White Sox home run. Allen blasted a shot in the ninth inning off Dick Drago to give the team a brief 1-0 lead. Kansas City would tie the game with two out in the ninth inning on a Bob Oliver home run off of Wilbur Wood, then go on to win the game. The Sox would drop three consecutive one-run games to the Royals to start the season, two in extra innings, but would end up with 87 wins in only 154 games.


1983
Milt Wilcox had his perfect game ruined with two outs in the ninth inning, as White Sox pinch hitter Jerry Hairston ripped a clean single up the middle. It was the only hit of the night for the Sox, who lost to Detroit, 6-0.


1985
In a game at Boston, White Sox pinch hitter Jerry Hairston collected his 51st safety in that role, setting the franchise record. Jerry would lead the league in pinch hits from 1983 through 1985, and would retire with 87 in his career. Hairston also hit the last home run to set off Bill Veeck’s original exploding scoreboard in October 1981 — and he hit it off of future Sox pitching coach Don Cooper!


2006
It was one of the most incredible defensive plays in White Sox history: In the ninth inning of a game at U.S. Cellular Field against Toronto, second baseman Tadahito Iguchi had to charge in on a slowly-hit ball by Bengie Molina. His momentum carried him forward, and because of it he left his feet and starting falling to the ground. Before he hit the field, though, Iguchi got a throw off, despite being parallel to the playing surface. His throw was strong enough to get Molina at first. The Sox would win the game, 4-2.


 

 

Today in White Sox History: April 14

Tres Garcías: On this day in 2017, the White Sox outfield made history. (@WhiteSox)


1910
White Sox pitcher Frank Smith fired what remains the franchise’s only Opening Day one-hitter as he beat the St. Louis Browns in Chicago, 3-0. Smith would later go on to pitch for the Red Sox and Reds.


1917
White Sox pitching star Eddie Cicotte no-hit the St. Louis Browns, in a 11-0 laugher. The game was at St. Louis and remains the earliest no-hitter ever thrown by a Sox pitcher in a season.


1942
Because of the intervention of President Franklin Roosevelt, Major League Baseball continued during World War II. The Sox would lose to St. Louis, 3-0, this Opening Day and according to the reports of the time it was a very quiet, somber crowd. Marines and sailors marched in carrying the American flag from center field. Pearl Harbor was still etched in everyone’s memories.


1953
Cleveland’s Bob Lemon, who’d go on to manage the White Sox in 1977 and some of 1978, almost duplicated Bob Feller’s 1940 Opening Day no-hitter, holding the Sox to one hit in winning, 6-0. Feller’s gem is the only Opening Day no-hitter in MLB history. 


1955
The White Sox and Sandy Consuegra defeated the Kansas City Athletics, 7-1, in the Comiskey Park home opener. The game was the first-ever between the Sox and the Athletics since the A’s move from Philadelphia to Kansas City. Sandy went the distance, allowing only three hits.


1964
The bittersweet 1964 season began with the White Sox dropping a 5-3 decision to the Orioles in Chicago. Hoyt Wilhelm gave up three late runs to lose the game. The 1964 Sox would win 98 games … only to finish one game behind the Yankees for the pennant.


1981
In the home opener for the season and for new owners Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn, 51,560 fans poured into Comiskey Park to see the new faces and new attitude. The Sox put on a show in blowing apart Milwaukee, 9-3. The big blow was Carlton Fisk’s grand slam into left-center in the fourth inning off of former Sox hurler Pete Vuckovich.


2017
The White Sox started an all-García outfield at Minnesota, marking the first time in major league history a team’s three starting outfielders all had the same last name. All three collected hits, including Willy García, who doubled in his first big-league at-bat in the second. He played left field, with Leury García in center and Avisaíl García in right. The Alou brothers all played in the outfield for San Francisco in 1963 a few times, but all three never actually started a game together. The Sox won the contest, 2-1.


 

Lucas Giolito splits his start in the MLB: The Show Players Tournament

Virtual baseball: Lucas Giolito is a proven ace in real life, but how does he fare in the video game world? (twitch.tv/generalgio)


Lucas Giolito, in his 1983 Sunday White Sox jersey, made his debut last night for the MLB: The Show Players Tournament, where one player from each team represents his respective ball club in an online baseball tournament. (Feel free to read Janice Scurio’s introduction to the event on SSHP to further familiarize yourself with the friendly, yet competitive competition!)

I took it upon myself to live-tweet the event, and I had a blast doing so! In case you missed it or just want to re-live last night’s opening events, I present to you … the game recap!


Game 1: Atlanta Braves at Chicago White Sox

To kick off the night, Giolito squared off against Luke Jackson of the Atlanta Braves. Rightfully so, Lucas Giolito opted to pitch the virtual game as himself. Giolito pitched into an early, bases-loaded jam to begin the tournament. However, like the ace Giolito is, he threw a fly out in-between two strikeouts to escape the jam unscathed. Unfortunately, Lucas could not capitalize on a major momentum shift, so the game remained scoreless after one full inning.

Both players settled in for the second inning, and failed to score.

However, to lead off the third and final inning, Luke Jackson went deep off of virtual Aaron Bummer for a solo shot to open the scoring, 1-0. Ace on the mound and an ace in the game, Giolito kept the damage to one. Looking for one to tie, two to win, Giolito went down 1-2-3.

Jackson squeezed by with a 1-0 victory, as Giolito dropped his first game of the tournament, resulting in an overall 0-1 record.


Game 2: Chicago White Sox at Miami Marlins

Shaking off a close game, Giolito stormed into his second match against Miami Marlin’s Ryne Stanek. Giolito opened the scoring with a deep two-run shot off of the bat of virtual Eloy Jiménez, 2-0 Good Guys!

For the bottom of the frame, Giolito started newly-acquired White Sox pitcher Dallas Keuchel. Stanek was able to snag a run, but that was all the Giolito/virtual Keuchel pairing surrendered in the inning.

Extra bases galore took over in the top half of the second inning. Lucas started with a leadoff double, which was immediately followed by an RBI triple! Then the triple came home on a single. Lucas scored two additional runs later in the inning; up 6-1, Lucas entered the bottom of the frame, where he pitched a scoreless inning!

Top of the third, Lucas snagged an extra run as he entered the bottom half up, 7-1. Keeping with the game’s momentum, Giolito pitched another scoreless inning and paved his way to his first victory of the tournament!

Lucas improved the Sox’s record to 1-1 overall and was looking to start a winning streak!


Game 3: New York Mets at Chicago White Sox

After some technical difficulties on Jeff McNeil’s end, game three of four was underway. Giolito started virtual Reynaldo López, who gave up a triple and walk to begin the game, but once again, the ace on the mound and in the game escaped the jam without allowing a run to cross the plate. However, similar to game one, Giolito could not score in his half of the inning.

Knotted 0-0, the second inning saw McNeil and the Mets score four runs. On the bright side, Giolito grabbed two runs in his half of the second to keep the game close!

McNeil was able to tack on an insurance run in the top of the third, adding to a 5-2 lead. Giolito looked for three to tie, four to win, but he left the final frame with a goose egg.

Lucas and the virtual Chicago White Sox sat at 1-2 overall as they went into their fourth and final game of the night.


Game 4: Chicago White Sox at Toronto Blue Jays

Ready to move on from his second loss of the night and even up his overall record, Giolito put up a crooked number in the top half of the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays’ Bo Bichette.

Bichette was 3-0 to start the MLB: The Show Players Tournament, so going up 3-0 in the first was a crucial accomplishment for Giolito. Giolito also left Bichette scoreless in the first, as Giolito pitched as his virtual self once again.

Giolito managed a few baserunners in the second inning to continue the pressure, but the runners did not find their way home. As for Bichette’s half of the second, he rocked a solo-shot to centerfield, but the ace kept the damage at one.

Entering the final inning up 3-1, Giolito threatened to score but could not add anymore insurance runs. Looking for the save and victory No. 2 on the night, Giolito put in Alex Colomé to seal the deal. As consistent as Colomé was for the 2019 season, virtual Alex is no different!

Lucas Giolito and the virtual Chicago White Sox put an end to Bichette’s three-game winning streak and evened their overall record at 2-2.


Afterthoughts

Interestingly, Lucas is 2-0 on the road, and he is 0-2 at home to the start of the Players Tournament!

Lucas Giolito currently resides in second place in the AL Central. Niko Goodrum and the virtual Detroit Tigers lead the division with a 3-1 record, with Kansas City and Cleveland yet to play. One game out of first and a few competitive games under his belt, look for Lucas to challenge Goodrum for the top spot in the division.

Overall, Lucas had a solid start to the tournament. His next scheduled set of games will occur this Wednesday, April 15 at 8:00PM CST; once again, I will live-tweet his performance in a Twitter thread. MLB is also keeping track of the records and schedules on their website. Lucas will play another four games: Pittsburgh, the North Side, Kansas City, and Colorado.

If you wish to watch Lucas live, make sure to give him a follow on his Twitch account, where he streams all of his practices and competitive games. All streams are available to re-watch at any given time! His commentary is fantastic, he constantly answers fans’ questions (he even demonstrated each of his pitching grips last night), and he radiates pure wholesomeness. Come for the MLB: The Show Players Tournament, but stay for Giolito’s wonderful character and personality.


 

 

Today in White Sox History: April 13

Temp fireman: Tommy John earned an Opening Day save in 1965, but soon would blossom into an ace starter.


1965
The White Sox turned the tide so to speak from 1964, beating the Orioles in Baltimore on Opening Day by the score of 5-3. They lost to the same club to open the 1964 season at Comiskey Park by the exact margin. Tommy John, making his White Sox debut, picked up the save for Gary Peters. The 1965 White Sox would win 95 games under Al Lopez, in his last full season as Sox skipper.


 

Experience 2005: early April voicemails

Thanks, Dad: You know I recognize your voice, right?


As the 2005 season got underway, I started to keep things — ticket stubs, newspaper articles — and I began to jot thoughts down. I started an essay after the 2005 season that I never finished. All of those writings have never seen the light of day, but here we are, 15 years later, so maybe it’s a good time to drag them out. Some of these entries will be full-length, others shorter, like this one.

After the Opening Day victory, the Sox win Game 2 of the season in a thrilling, 9th-inning comeback. But they miss the chance to sweep Cleveland in the series finale to start the season 3-0, with the bullpen imploding in the 11th inning.

I get home from work, and there’s a message on my answering machine. “Uh, hi, Laura. This is your dad. (He always announces himself in this way. As if I don’t know.) Looks like the Sox aren’t going 162-0 after all.  Alright, bye.”

***

The Sox have a pattern going: they win the next three series by winning the first two games of each, then dropping the third. Minnesota, Cleveland again, Seattle. The pitching is so good, but I am irked at their inability to get a sweep. Bad sign for the future, I think. It’s all smoke and mirrors. No killer instinct. Blah blah, other cliches.

“Uh, yeah,  hi, Laura. This is your dad. You know, if the Sox win every series, then they’ll win the whole thing. OK, bye, talk to you later.”

[Note from the future: My answering machine – actual tape and all – got quite the workout in 2005.]


 

Today in White Sox Baseball: April 12

Trailblazing: Mary Shane was named a White Sox announcer on this day in 1977.


1966
The White Sox opened the season with a 3-2 win over the Angels in 14 innings. Tommy McCraw delivered the game-winning hit. Rookie Tommy Agee would crack a home run off Dean Chance to begin his season, which would end with Agee being named the Rookie of the Year and the first Sox player to ever hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in the same season.

But the game became known for what the 28,000-plus fans sang to open the afternoon; it was not ‘‘The Star Spangled Banner,’’ but ‘‘God Bless America.’’ The Sox made the change stating that the words to the usual anthem were too hard to remember and to sing. Songwriter Irving Berlin (“White Christmas”) would write a letter to the Sox begging them to go back to the original anthem. The Sox then decided to let the fans vote on which they preferred — and ‘‘The Star Spangled Banner’’ won.


1967
The bittersweet 1967 season opened with a 5-4 loss in Boston to the eventual American League champions. The White Sox would go into the final week of the season in position to take their first pennant since 1959 — only to lose five in a row to bottom-feeders Kansas City and Washington. They finished in fourth place, three games out, with a record of 89-73.


1977
Former Milwaukee radio broadcaster Mary Shane became one of the first female announcers in MLB history when she began doing Sox games. Mary joined Lorn Brown, Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall in the booth for roughly 20 games. Most of her work was done when the Sox were at home. WMAQ radio general manager Charlie Warner discovered Shane, who only lasted this one season. The day of the press conference to announce her joining the broadcasting team Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley died, so very few reporters showed up for it.

She returned to Massachusetts, where she became an award-winning sportswriter before passing away very young, on Nov. 3, 1987.


 

Possible 2020 realignment: How it affects the White Sox

(YouTube)


Sports of all types are obviously on the back burner during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Major League Baseball and its players’ union are discussing a couple of ways to salvage a season that once appeared likely to be lost altogether.


The Arizona Proposal

Last week, Jeff Passan of ESPN caused a stir with a column that detailed what was being called the “Arizona Proposal.”

Passan wrote that MLB and the MLBPA were “increasingly focused” on a plan to start the 2020 season as early as May in the midst of this global pandemic. The plan, which was written up in great detail, reportedly has the support of multiple high-ranking federal public health officials. The deal would see all 30 major league clubs moving to Arizona and playing games with no fans in attendance.

The state of Arizona possesses 10 spring training facilities, Chase Field (the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks) and other nearby ballparks. Players, coaching staffs and other essential personnel would be sequestered at local hotels in relative isolation during off-hours. Federal officials at the CDC have been supportive of the idea and its requirement of strict social distancing.

The Arizona Proposal presents many logistical issues, and there are some apparent hurdles that need clearance before baseball can become the first professional sport to return in America. Major League Baseball referenced the discussions but pushed back against any said plan being in motion.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic weighed in on the proposed topic as well and described the plan as “still in the concept stage” after speaking with sources. While May was initially floated as a return possibility, June seems more realistic. Both Passan and Rosenthal referenced the possibility of significant increases in coronavirus testing capabilities (providing almost immediate results) being something on the horizon.

Many players will be understandably skeptical of separating from their families for an extended period of time. Summer heat in Arizona is also brutal, and will be another obstacle for all involved. The players’ union has stated emphatically that while the athletes would like to play baseball games, the protection of the players is the highest current priority.

Rosenthal noted that one potential bargaining chip for the players would be the expansion of big league rosters. Expanded rosters up to as many as 50 players is an option. While this plan seems like a logistical nightmare to many in and outside the industry, something that has been made clear is that the majority of players would prefer to play in some fashion.

Baseball players could never be described as risk-averse and while the plan doesn’t appear to be set in stone, it’s one option for young athletes to return to some semblance of normalcy in the near future. A plan similar to this one may ultimately be the clearest path to a return for America’s Pastime and the resumption of games on television in some fashion is the only path toward revenue production.


Realignment possibilities

On Friday morning, Bob Nightengale of USA Today noted that MLB is “assessing myriad proposals” but weighing a plan that would completely shift the alignment of the sport for 2020. The proposed plan would eliminate the traditional National and American Leagues with the goal of realigning the six divisions for an abbreviated season.

The proposal would call for all 30 teams returning to their spring training facilities in Arizona and Florida to play regular season games. Putting 15 teams in each state would theoretically reduce travel and minimize risk as much as possible. Divisions would be realigned based on the geography of club’s spring training homes and would mix teams from the National and American Leagues.

In Nightengale’s article, he proposed one realignment structure. This hasn’t been agreed upon, and it’s just one idea, but it’s a feasible snapshot.

GRAPEFRUIT LEAGUE

  • NORTH: New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates
  • SOUTH: Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore Orioles
  • EAST: Washington Nationals, Houston Astros, New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals, Miami Marlins

CACTUS LEAGUE

  • NORTHEAST: Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Oakland A’s
  • WEST: Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Angels
  • NORTHWEST: Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals

While the “Arizona Proposal” seems a bit farfetched and unlikely to get off the cutting-room floor, this dual-state plan appears much more plausible. The plan would allow for 26 ballparks to be put in play as possible game sites. Of those 26 ballparks, Chase Field in Arizona and Marlins Park and Tropicana Field in Florida all have structures that can be closed. The plan would likely call for frequent doubleheaders, with an uneven number of teams in each league.

One idea would be for teams to play 108 games. Under this proposal, clubs would play teams in their newly-formed divisions 12 times while playing 60 games total (six vs. each interdivisional team) against the rest of the league. It would also potentially give the league a trial run at some rule implementations that are likely coming to the sport at some point.

An automated strike zone could be put into practice on a trial basis for this abbreviated 2020 season. It’s also very likely that the rosters will expand and all 30 clubs will be afforded the use of a designated hitter.

Playoff expansion is also something that fans should be preparing themselves for. Five teams from each league currently make the postseason. The shortened season could provide the opportunity for the sport to increase to seven playoff teams in each league and experiment with its practicality.

Traditionalists will hate the movement of the designated hitter into both leagues, but the pragmatist in me is shocked that it hasn’t happened already. The move opens up 15 more spots for players to be inserted on rosters and it’s something that the union would likely welcome. Pitchers are also terrible at hitting, and have enough to worry about anyway. Playoff expansion would be a boon for television and one way for owners to recoup revenue lost from the season delay. Never let a good crisis go to waste.


White Sox implications

While there is no solid plan in place and the plans discussed were just that, either of these models have implications for the Chicago White Sox, both positive and negative. In the plan that Nightengale brought to light, the division alignment was based on geography. Geography should be a positive for the White Sox in normal AL Central circumstances, as they reside in a division with four smaller markets and should theoretically have spending resources that distinguish them from the others.

In the latest proposal, the White Sox would play 48 games against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds — easily the toughest division in the Cactus League. The path to a division title would be arduous, but with 60 games against the rest of the league, playoff expansion still could allow for the White Sox to make the postseason for the first time since 2008.

The White Sox have a young core that wouldn’t be perturbed by the makeshift nature of an abbreviated season. They are exactly the type of club that could thrive in a smaller sample size. With the addition of southpaws Dallas Keuchel and Gio González, the pitching staff is improved. It still wasn’t seen as ideal though and there are some question marks in the bullpen as well. Pitching reinforcements were going to be necessary during a long season, but the organization has amassed a quality group to fill in.

With the late start to the 2020 season, Carlos Rodón and Michael Kopech could have big-league roles that matter for a more significant portion of the season. Pitching prospects like Dane Dunning and Jimmy Lambert could theoretically help the major league team as well. The White Sox should have health on their side for the first time in awhile if the sport does reignite in the not-too-distant future.

Nobody knows when baseball will start and what the sport will look like once it does. It’s refreshing that the league and its players are thinking about outside-the-box ideas to bring some semblance of normalcy back to the country. Whenever baseball does return, the nation will be ready to consume the product. And the White Sox should factor prominently into the festivities whenever they ultimately begin.


 

Today in White Sox History: April 11

Wheels: Paul Konerko — yes, that Paul Konerko — once hit an inside-the-park home run. (YouTube)


1917
The World Championship season began in St. Louis, where the Sox battered the Browns, 7-2. Claude ‘‘Lefty’’ Williams picked up the win. Just slightly more than six months later, the Sox would win the World Series, four games to two, over John McGraw and the New York Giants.


1969
The White Sox initiated major league baseball in Seattle as the first home opponent for the expansion Seattle Pilots. The Sox promptly rolled over and died to the new team, 7-0, getting shut out by future Sox pitcher Gary Bell who went the distance. Bell would be traded to the Sox in June.


1982
When the great blizzard hit the Midwest and forced cancellation of a number of games, the White Sox had to open on the road the following week … in New York … with a doubleheader. No problem, as the franchise which had already won a regularly scheduled Opening Day twinbill in 1971, put the wood to the Yankees by winning 7-6 in 12 innings, and then 2-0. It was the start of an eight-game winning streak to open the 1982 campaign, the best start in franchise history.


2000
For a man with no speed, he got around the bases fast enough this time! Paul Konerko hit an inside the park home run against Tampa Bay. It came in the first inning off Esteban Yan and drove in two runs. The Sox won, 13-6.


2011
White Sox utility player Brent Lillibridge belted the franchise’s 10,000th home run when he took a fastball from Oakland’s Dallas Braden and hit it out of U.S. Cellular Field. It came in the fifth inning of a game the Sox eventually lost 2-1 in 10 innings.


 

Lucas Giolito takes White Sox fans to the Show in players-only video game competition

Practice makes perfect: in his Friday night practice session, White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito asks fans for setting advice during a Twitch stream. Not a fan of pulse pitching myself. Meter all the way. (twitch.tv/generalgio)


With the delay of the baseball season throwing many fans in the doldrums, a hero has risen to pull us out of our Springtime funk: the Sony PlayStation game, MLB The Show 20. The game was released on March 17, days after MLB announced the suspension of all spring training games due to the Coronavirus pandemic. MLB would later announce the ultimate delay of the 2020 season, and with many variables and questions still in the air can we forecast when the season will begin? Will we see any season at all?

While far from a viable replacement for IRL baseball, the Show has already been used creatively to get us through flattening the curve; NBC Sports Chicago hosts a simulated stream of the game, called by none other than Jason Benetti and Chuck Garfien.

If you’ve been grasping for any drops of baseball lately, fret no more: the MLB Players League begins Friday and runs through April 28, with a postseason to follow. All 30 teams will duke it out online in a 29-game regular season, represented by one ballplayer-gamer of choice. Each player will receive a $5,000 donation to go to a Boys and Girls Club affiliate; the winner will receive an additional $25,000 donation.

Your Chicago White Sox will be represented by none other than the club ace, Lucas Giolito. Giolito is an avid gamer; he’s a seasoned Rocket League player, has admitted he has an affinity for Animal Crossing, and while there’s no baseball on the horizon, he’ll occasionally stream Call of Duty: Warzone sessions with teammates Carlos Rodón and Dallas Keuchel. 

Though you can watch the Player’s League streams for free, fans interested in investing in Giolito’s gaming journey can subscribe to his new Twitch channel for a fee of $4.99. A subscription, as opposed to a follow, gives you a fancy subscriber badge, ad-free viewing, as well as an exclusive chat just for subscribers. 

Giolito said during his practice stream on Friday night that he will be pocketing no revenue he receives from his Twitch channel; instead he plans on finding a charity and donating accordingly. “It’s all about interacting with the fans,” Giolito said. “And just having fun gaming.” 

Gaming for good. We at SSHP can get behind that. 

Check out Lucas Giolito’s first game, against Luke Jackson of the Atlanta Braves on Sunday, April 12, at 8 p.m. CST by dropping by Giolito’s Twitch channel — again, that’s https://www.twitch.tv/generalgio.

Let’s go, Lucas!

Today in White Sox History: April 10

Ho-lee Cow: On a first-pitch opportunity to stab the Red Sox in the heart, Carlton Fisk drove the knife in deep. (YouTube)


1959
The season opener to a memorable, pennant-winning year started in Detroit where Billy Pierce faced Jim Bunning. The Sox blew a 7-4 lead when the Tigers got three runs in the eighth inning, and matters weren’t decided until the 14th. That’s when Nellie Fox, who hit home runs as often as he struck out, blasted a two-run shot to give the Sox the 9-7 win. Fox would go 5-for-7 and knock in three runs that afternoon, despite freezing temperatures.


1961
White Sox outfielder “Jungle” Jim Rivera was always good for the unexpected. Right before the Sox played in Washington D.C. to open the season, President John Kennedy threw out the first ball. Rivera came up with it and was escorted to the President’s box, where both Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon Johnson signed the ball.

After Rivera looked at it he said to the President,You’ll have to do better than that, John. This is a scribble I can hardly read!” So Kennedy, in block letters, spelled out his name on the baseball. Oh … the Sox went on to win the game, 4-3, getting single runs in the seventh and eighth innings. It was the first game the expansion Washington Senators ever played.


1968
Social unrest on the West Side of Chicago after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King held the Opening Day crowd at Comiskey Park to fewer than 8,000. The White Sox got shut out by Cleveland’s Sonny Siebert, 9-0. It was the first of a franchise-record 10 straight losses to open the season. Coupled with the five straight losses to close out 1967, the Sox would end up dropping 15 in a row.


1981
If you had written the script and pitched it to Hollywood, it would have refused it on the grounds of corniness — but reality is sometimes stranger than fiction. Carlton Fisk, native son of New England, returned to Boston on Opening Day mere weeks after leaving the Red Sox for the White Sox. Fisk was declared a free agent after the Red Sox mailed him his contract past the legal deadline, and he left. With a new team, in a new uniform, Fisk immediately began making Boston pay as he ripped a first-pitch, three-run home run in the eighth inning off of Bob Stanley to put the White Sox ahead 3-2 in a game they’d win 5-3.