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.


 

Today in White Sox History: November 24

Triple threat: Agee had a magnificent rookie campaign at bat, on the basepaths and in the field. (Topps)


1966 — After having a marvelous 1966 season, White Sox outfielder Tommie Agee was named the American League Rookie of the Year by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Agee had a unique blend of power and speed, becoming the first player in franchise history with at least 20 home runs and at least 20 steals in the same season.

In 1966, Agee hit .273 with 173 hits, 27 doubles, eight triples, 22 home runs, 86 RBIs and 44 stolen bases. He also won a Gold Glove. Agee got 16 first-place votes out of 20. Jim Nash of the Kansas City A’s was second in the voting, while George “Boomer” Scott and Deron Johnson tied for third place. Johnson would play for the White Sox in 1975.


1976 — The first free-agent signing in franchise history turned out to be a bargain-basement success for the White Sox. Pitcher Steve Stone inked a deal for his second go-around with the team (Stone signed four years and five days after first becoming a member of the White Sox, via trade in 1972). In 1977, Steve would win 15 games, pacing a staff that won a surprising 90 games. In 2009, Stone again returned to the organization, this time as a television broadcaster.

 

 

Today in White Sox History: October 12

The dropped third strike heard ’round the world: A.J. Pierzynski remains forever a folk hero on the South Side for this ALCS Game 2 stunt. (YouTube)


1966 — Another one of White Sox GM Ed Short’s best moves came on this day: He sent two-time All-Star pitcher Juan Pizarro, nursing a bad arm, to the Pittsburgh Pirates for minor league pitcher Wilbur Wood. Wood would blossom in Chicago thanks to his knuckleball, first as a record-setting relief pitcher, then as a four-time 20-game winner (1971-74). Wood would also make three All-Star teams.


2005 — In one of the strangest endings to a postseason game in history, the White Sox beat the Angels 2-1, in Game 2 of the ALCS. With the game tied in the ninth inning, catcher A.J. Pierzynski ran to first on a third strike that possibly bounced in the dirt (replays were definitely unclear, seeming to indicate that Angels catcher Josh Paul both caught the ball on the fly and held on to it). Paul, a former Sox player, heard home plate umpire call Pierzynski out on strikes (also captured on camera) and rolled the ball back to the mound, not bothering to throw to first base, as required by the rules for a dropped third strike.

After much delay and arguing by Angels manager Mike Scioscia, pinch-runner Pablo Ozuna stole second and Joe Credes double brought home the game-winner.

Today in White Sox History: September 30

Fond farewell: Scoreboard welcoming fans to the final game at Comiskey Park in 1990.


1921 — White Sox catcher Ray Schalk tied a major league record with three assists in one inning. It happened in a 3-2 loss to Cleveland at Comiskey Park. Schalk picked off three baserunners!


1949 — White Sox GM Frank Lane started the connection between the franchise and Venezuela when he dealt two minor leaguers and $35,000 to the Brooklyn Dodgers for shortstop Alfonso Carrasquel.

“Chico” would be named to three All-Star teams and would become the first Venezuelan to appear in the midseason classic. He’d be traded before the start of the 1956 season, to Cleveland for Larry Doby, which opened up the position for another Venezuelan, Luis Aparicio.


1956 — In the season-ending game at Kansas City, Sox pitcher Jim Derrington became the youngest person to ever appear in a game wearing a White Sox uniform. Derrington was 16 years old when he started against the A’s. He went six innings, allowing six runs (five earned) in a 7-6 loss. The teenaged lefty (who was a “bonus baby”) didn’t last long in the big leagues. He pitched a total of 21 innings in the majors, and had a career record of 0-2.


1966 — The White Sox defeated the New York Yankees 6-5 in 11 innings, on a single to left by Johnny Romano. It scored Wayne Causey. Why was that important? The loss guaranteed the Yankees a last-place finish, for the first time since 1912.


1971 — When Bill Melton smashed a home run on the last day of the season off the Bill Parsons of the Milwaukee Brewers, he became the first White Sox player to ever win a home run championship. Melton hit three home runs in the final two games to pass Norm Cash and Reggie Jackson for the title. Typically for a White Sox slugger, Melton only hit 33, the lowest total for a champ since 1965.

In an effort to give Melton an additional at-bat or two, manager Chuck Tanner had the power hitter leading off in the Sox final two games.


1980 — For all of his contributions to baseball and to the White Sox organization, owner Bill Veeck was honored with his own night. The ceremonies took place before the White Sox would drop a 5-1 decision to Oakland.


1990 — Eighty years of baseball history ended, as the original Comiskey Park closed with a 2-1 White Sox win over the Seattle Mariners. An emotional and capacity crowd, including politicians, musicians, sports and Hollywood figures, were in attendance.

Among the celebrities in the park were Governor Jim Thompson, Major Richard M. Daley, Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Ron Howard, George Wendt, John Candy, Wayne Gretzky, Billy Cunningham and Maureen O’ Hara. The Oak Ridge Boys sang the National Anthem and the rock group Styx sung “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh inning. Bobby Thigpen got his 57th save in the game. The Sox would close out a miraculous 1990 season with 94 wins.


1997 — After controversies on and off the field (calling for a relief pitcher with no one warming up, a fistfight with umpire Richie Garcia at a steakhouse, a brawl near third base with Brewers manager Phil Garner) manager Terry Bevington was fired. No flowers were sent and no Sox fan (or player) shed any tears.


2000 — White Sox infielder José Valentin became the fourth player in franchise history to hit home runs from both sides of the plate in the same game. Valentin connected off Kansas City’s Blake Stein and Scott Mullen, driving in three runs in the 9-1 win. This had only happened six times in franchise history, and Valentin did it three times himself! Also, this feat happened three times against the Kansas City Royals.


2008 — For the first time, the White Sox played an extra game to get into the postseason. They hosted the Twins in the 163rd contest of the year (known as the “Blackout Game”) and won 1-0, clinching the Central Division title. John Danks threw eight shutout innings, Jim Thome belted what turned out to be the game-winning home run and Ken Griffey Jr. threw out Michael Cuddyer at home. The Sox won the division with a record of 89-74.


2016 — White Sox left hander Carlos Rodón tied the franchise and American League record by striking out the first seven Minnesota Twins hitters, in a game at U.S. Cellular Field. The original record was set by White Sox hurler Joe Cowley back in 1986 at Texas. Unlike Cowley, though, Rodón actually won his game, 7-3. Rodón struck out 11 on the night, pitching eight innings.

Today in White Sox History: September 22

The best magic number: At this time in 1959, it shrank to zero. (Chicago Sun-Times)


Sept. 22, 1959 — The White Sox clinched the American League pennant, win 4-2 at Cleveland. Al Smith and Jim Rivera hit back-to-back home runs in the game. Smith also threw out former Sox star Minnie Miñoso trying to score a run.

A crowd estimated by the Chicago Sun-Times at 125,000 was at Midway Airport to greet the Sox when they returned home. All this on a night when Chicago fire commissioner Robert Quinn ordered the air raid sirens turned on to celebrate the title, causing fear and panic in a number of non-baseball fans who thought the Russians were attacking. The South Siders would wind up winning the 1959 pennant by five games over the Tribe, with a mark of 94-60.


Sept. 22, 1966 — In a game at Yankee Stadium, pitcher Joe Horlen and his teammates stopped New York to the tune of 4-1. Only 413 fans were in attendance at the gigantic stadium. It’s believed to be the smallest home crowd ever at a Yankee game.