Today in White Sox History: January 31

Inflated value: Billy Sullivan wasn’t just an ace backstop, but an inventor! (Turkey Red)

White Sox catcher Billy Sullivan secured a patent on the first catcher’s chest protector. It contained a wind pad with compressed air.

The U.S. Cellular Company and the White Sox signed an agreement selling the naming rights to Comiskey Park. The deal was worth $68 million over 23 years. The money received by the club contained the stipulation that it could only be used on renovations and upgrades for the stadium, not for player additions via free agency. The renovations made the ballpark, now Guaranteed Rate Field, one of the finest-looking stadiums in baseball.



Today in White Sox History: October 20

(Play Ball)

1909 — Bruce “Soupy” Campbell (no relation to the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup-winning defenseman), a Chicago native (LaGrange H.S.) who played the first two of his 13 major league seasons on the South Side, was born 110 years ago today.

Though he played just 16 career games (age 20-22) with the White Sox, he logged a career 0.4 bWAR for the team — over 162 games, that’s a 4.1 WAR, friends. And once Campbell got a chance to play, he had some solid seasons, particularly in 1935 in Cleveland, when he had 2.0 bWAR in just 80 games.

His career peak came in the autumn of his days, when at age 30 and after a decent season for the Tigers, Soupy dominated in his only World Series appearance, getting into all seven games of Detroit’s seven-game loss to the Cincinnati Reds, slashing .360/.448/.520.

Back in 1936 with Cleveland, Campbell went 7-7 in a doubleheader against his former team, the St. Louis Browns. He went 6-for-6 with five RBIs in the first game, making him just the 21st person since 1900 to have a 6-for-6 game. He had a single in the nightcap, then left the game with a 7-for-7 day.

After that season, Campbell was named the Most Courageous Athlete of the Year by Philadelphia sportswriters after surviving spinal meningitis the year before (and was given a 50% chance of survival … yes, Campbell’s career year in 1935 had been cut short by spinal meningitis.)

At 33 and still an active major leaguer, Campbell enlisted in the Army, serving for three years. He returned to the game in 1946, but never made it back to the majors.

Campbell died in 1995, at age 85.

Today in White Sox History: October 6

Lost cause: White Sox manager was badly outmaneuvered by Lou Piniella in the 2000 ALDS — including on the very last play.

1905 — The White Sox lost the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season when pitcher Doc White couldn’t beat the bottom-feeding St. Louis Browns. White and the Sox lost, 6-2, which handed the flag to the Philadelphia Athletics. The Sox would finish the season two games off the pace.

1908 — The White Sox lost the pennant on the last day of the season when Ty Cobb and Detroit won the decisive game, 7-0. Doc White again was the pitcher of record, only this time he may have had an excuse: He was working on two day’s rest, having beaten the Tigers, 3-1, on October 4.

1909 — Architect Zachary Taylor Davis submitted his design for a new ballpark on the South Side to owner Charles Comiskey. The concrete and steel structure was considered revolutionary for its time, yet only took three and a half months to build the following year.

1959 – At the mammoth L.A. Coliseum, which was the temporary home of the Dodgers, the White Sox played small ball in Game 5 of the World Series. They beat Sandy Koufax 1-0 to stay alive, cutting L.A.’s series lead to 3-2. The only Sox run scored on a double play ground ball, but it turned out to be enough. The Sox became the first team in World Series history to have three pitchers combine for a shutout (Bob Shaw, Billy Pierce and Dick Donovan). The game also featured one of the greatest catches in World Series history as Jim Rivera ran and made an over-the-shoulder catch in the seventh inning with two men on base to save the game. 

2000 – Another dramatic and fantastic season was ruined as the White Sox fell apart and lost the divisional series in three straight games to the Mariners. The M’s clinched the series despite a heroic effort from pitcher James Baldwin. JB, pitching with a bad arm, held the Mariners to one run on three hits in six innings.

Seattle scored the series-clinching run in the 2-1 win on a suicide squeeze from Carlos Guillen in the ninth inning. Replays showed him clearly out of the batter’s box on the bunt attempt, stepping over home plate, but White Sox manager Jerry Manuel never protested the play.