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