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.


 

Today in White Sox History: November 30

The Go-Go White Sox really got up and went once Aparicio’s contract was purchased from Memphis. (Topps)


1955 — It was the start of a new era at shortstop for the White Sox. On this date the team purchased the contract of young infielder, Luis Aparicio from Memphis. Aparicio would begin his Hall of Fame career the following season, as the Rookie of the Year in the American League.


1961 — After 13 years on the South Side, with 186 wins and seven All-Star selections, pitcher Billy Pierce was traded to the San Francisco Giants by GM. Ed Short. Pierce and Don Larsen were sent west in exchange for knuckleballing relief pitcher Eddie Fisher, pitcher Dom Zanni, outfielder Bob Farley and a player to be named later. The trade would revitalize Pierce’s career and lead him to tossing a three-hit, complete-game win in Game 6 of the 1962 World Series against the Yankees.

Fisher would become one of the top relief pitchers in baseball and would team with Hoyt Wilhelm to give the Sox great depth in that area. He’d make the All-Star team in 1965 and win the Relief Pitcher of the Year award. In an unrelated note, Fisher did a spot-on imitation of Donald Duck!


1970 – New White Sox player personnel director Roland Hemond continued to rebuild a battered franchise. At the Winter Meetings he shipped Gold Glove-winning outfielder Ken Berry, infielder Syd O’Brien and pitcher Billy Wynne to the Angels for pitcher Tom Bradley, catcher Tom Egan and outfielder Jay Johnstone.

The deal would be a steal just based on what Bradley did, winning 15 games with a sub 3.00 ERA in both 1971 and 1972. Egan provided great backup help to Ed Herrmann and Johnstone was a quality outfielder and clubhouse comic.

 

 

 

 

Today in White Sox History: November 27

 


1938 — White Sox star pitcher Monty Stratton, an American League All-Star in 1937 and one of the best young players in the game, accidentally shot himself in the leg after his .32 caliber pistol discharged when he was replacing it in his holster. Stratton had been out hunting. Unable to get help, he crawled a half-mile to a road leading into Greenville, Texas. The bullet pierced a femoral artery, which stopped circulation to the limb, and Stratton’s leg had to be amputated. His four-year career ended. Stratton eventually came back to play in a few minor league games using a wooden leg.

In 1948, Hollywood made “The Stratton Story,” starring Jimmy Stewart, June Allyson and former Sox manager Jimmy Dykes.


1951 – In yet another one of Frank Lane’s “best deals,” the White Sox GM sent five players to the St. Louis Browns for three players, including catcher Sherm Lollar. Lollar would become a three-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner. Of the players sent to St. Louis, one of them, outfielder Jim Rivera, would be reacquired by the Sox the following July. Both players would remain with the club through the early 1960s.


1961 — In a bizarre coincidence, both Minnie Miñoso and Joe Cunningham were at the same sports banquet in Joliet when word came that the White Sox and Cardinals had made a trade — Miñoso for Cunningham! Cunningham became perhaps the finest-fielding first baseman in franchise history, ranking right up there with Joe Kuhel and Tony Muser. And he could hit, too: In 1962, Joe would reach base 268 times and lead the Sox in walks, runs, sacrifice flies and bunts. He hit .295 and drove in 70 runs. In July 1964, the White Sox sent Cunningham to the Senators as part of a deal bringing Moose Skowron to the Sox.


1981 — It was a move criticized at the time, as Sox GM Roland Hemond sent outfielder Chet Lemon to the Tigers for outfielder Steve Kemp. The swap of All-Stars left Sox fans shaking their heads, as Kemp would become a free agent after the upcoming season. He’d eventually sign a big-money contract with the Yankees after knocking in 98 runs for the Sox in 1982.

However, what wasn’t known at the time was that the Sox weren’t going to re-sign Lemon; the young star had agreed to an extension, but then balked after the new Jerry Reinsdorf-Eddie Einhorn ownership went out and signed Carlton Fisk for more money than Lemon had agreed to.

And yes, the move broke the tiny little White Sox heart of the future editor-in-chief of South Side Hit Pen.

 

 

 

Today in White Sox History: September 24

Magglio Ordoñez and Frank Thomas celebrate in the Metrodome after clinching the Central (Sun-Times clippings)

Sept. 24, 1919 — A 6-5 win over the St. Louis Browns clinched the pennant for the White Sox. Eddie Cicotte got the win. Shoeless Joe Jackson’s double in the ninth drove in the game- and pennant-clinching run. The Sox would beat out Cleveland by three-and-a-half games for the title and finish with a record of 88-52


Sept. 24, 1961 — Sox star pitcher Billy Pierce won his 186th and final game with the team as he threw six innings of relief in an 8-7 win over Baltimore. Pierce would be traded to the Giants in the following offseason, after 13 years on the South Side.


Sept. 24, 1969 — Sox owner Art Allyn sold the club to his brother John Allyn, thwarting moves made by Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt and Milwaukee’s Bud Selig to buy the team. Hunt wanted to move the White Sox to Dallas, Selig to Milwaukee.


Sept. 24, 1977 — White Sox infielder Jack Brohamer had the game of his life, as he became the second player in franchise history to hit for the cycle. Brohamer went 5-for-5 in the Kingdome at Seattle, with two runs scored and four RBIs in the 8-3 win.

Sept. 24, 2000 — Despite losing to the Twins at the Metrodome, the White Sox clinched the Central Division, beating out Cleveland by five games with a record of 95-67. Owner Jerry Reinsdorf showed up in the locker room and said that “I’m sure all Sox fans are now happy the team made the White Flag deal.”