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.


 

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: March 30

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1971
Another good deal pulled off by the White Sox and GM Roland Hemond. He sent catcher Duane Josephson and pitcher Danny Murphy to the Red Sox for relief pitcher Vicente Romo and first baseman Tony Muser.

Muser was one of the best defensive first baseman in baseball and was tremendous as a late-inning replacement for Dick Allen. He was an earlier version of Mike Squires, if you will. Romo helped stabilize a young White Sox bullpen with an ERA of 3.33 and six saves in his two years with the team, primarily as a middle relief guy.


1981
Shortly before the start of the regular season, the White Sox purchased the contract of Chicago native slugger Greg Luzinski from the Phillies. The strongman would become a two-time American League Designated Hitter of the Year and provide solid power to the middle of the batting order. In his three-and-a-half seasons with the White Sox he pounded out 84 home runs and drove in 317 RBIs. “Bull” would also become the first man to hit three rooftop home runs in a single season at the original Comiskey Park (1983).


1982
Needing outfield help, White Sox GM Roland Hemond sent two prospects to the Dodgers for the speedy Rudy Law. Law would smash the team’s stolen base record in 1983, swiping 77 bases. His career on the South Side wasn’t long, but it was memorable, as he supplied speed and defense to the 1983 Western Division champions. In his four years with the Sox, Rudy stole 171 bases.


1992
Seeking another power bat to hit behind Frank Thomas and Robin Ventura and not being able to close a deal with Mark McGwire, White Sox GM Ron Schueler dealt outfielder Sammy Sosa and pitcher Ken Patterson to the Cubs for outfielder/DH George Bell. Bell would have 112 RBIs in 1992 and a solid 1993, but outbursts during the 1993 ALCS over playing time sealed his fate with the organization.

Sosa would become the face of the Cubs and challenge the all-time single season home run marks in the late 1990s. However in the wake of the steroid scandal and his potential involvement with it he left baseball with a cloud over him, with his future Hall of Fame chances in real jeopardy.


 

This Weekend in White Sox History

We’ll always have Kansas City: Matt Davidson made a BIG impression on the Royals to start 2018. (@MLBTradeRumors)


March 28, 1981
The Sox dealt pitcher Ken Kravec to the Cubs for pitcher Dennis Lamp. Over the next three seasons Lamp would do everything for the club … start, pitch long relief, close games. He’d toss a one-hitter against Milwaukee on August 25, losing his no-hitter in the ninth inning when Robin Yount blooped a double. Lamp would then lead the “Winnin’ Ugly” 1983 Western Division champion White Sox with 15 saves.


March 29, 2018
The earliest Opening Day in history at that time turned out to be a record-setting day for the White Sox, who blasted Kansas City, 14-7. The Sox tied the record for most Opening Day home runs by hitting six at Kauffman Stadium. (The 1988 Mets also hit six, against the Montreal Expos.) Matt Davidson became the fourth player in history to hammer three home runs on Opening Day, as he went 3-for-4 with four runs scored and five RBIs. Tim Anderson had two home runs and drove in three, with José Abreu hitting the other home run. Yolmer Sánchez also drove in three for the White Sox.

Today in White Sox History: March 18

Steal of a deal: A best-buy in 1964, Don Mossi made the White Sox bullpen unbeatable. (Chicago White Sox)


1964
The White Sox purchased the contract of veteran pitcher Don Mossi from the Tigers for $20,000. Mossi would have a spectacular season for the club that lost the pennant by one game, going 3-1 with seven saves and an ERA of 2.92. He’d team up with Hoyt Wilhelm and Eddie Fisher to give the club the best bullpen in the league.


1981
Carlton Fisk signed a free agent deal with the White Sox, beginning the process of turning a laughable organization into a real, legitimate major league franchise. The All-Star catcher and future Hall-of-Famer got his free agency after the Red Sox did not tender him a contract by the required date. Immediately, Sox co-owner Eddie Einhorn and GM Roland Hemond jumped at the chance to get a player of Fisk’s caliber on to the team. Fisk would play 13 years on the South Side, make four All-Star teams, and have his No. 72 retired in 1997. He retired with the team record for most home runs, as well as most home runs in MLB history hit by a catcher.

 

 

 

 

Today in White Sox History: January 29

The Sunshine Boys: 39 years ago, this pair took over the Chicago White Sox.


1981
Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn gained control of the White Sox after American League owners turned down Bill Veeck’s attempt to sell to Eddie DeBartolo. Reinsdorf’s original partner was William Farley, but Farley dropped out in part because the Sox went out and signed free agents Ron LeFlore and Jim Essian. Farley didn’t approve of the team spending $3 million on free agents — even though Veeck got the money for the signings from DeBartolo!

Reinsdorf originally was part of a group trying to buy the New York Mets. Einhorn originally was part of a group trying to get the San Diego Padres.

 

Today in White Sox History: December 11

Fan club: There doesn’t seem to be a Sox fan alive who doesn’t adore Wimpy, including sometime partner Jason Benetti. Paciorek came to the White Sox on this day in 1981.


1973
In was one of the worst deals ever made by GM Roland Hemond, the White Sox acquired Cubs star Ron Santo after Santo refused a deal to the California Angels. Santo, who may have been able to be picked up on waivers, was acquired for three players, including pitcher Steve Stone.

Santo did very little in his one season with the White Sox and was considered a clubhouse cancer, tormenting some younger players, which raised the ire of Dick Allen. Santo’s White Sox highlight was probably the inside-the-park home run he hit on June 9, 1974 against Boston’s Bill Lee at Comiskey Park. Santo was also one of the few players who disliked playing under manager Chuck Tanner.


1975
Hemond sent third baseman Bill Melton and pitcher Steve Dunning to California for first baseman Jim Spencer and outfielder Morris Nettles. Melton had a bad back and had worn out his welcome with the team, getting into a shouting match in a Milwaukee hotel lobby with broadcaster Harry Caray.

Spencer, meanwhile would win a Gold Glove for his defensive prowess. He also had 18 home runs and 69 RBIs for the South Side Hit Men, twice driving in eight runs in a game in 1977.


1980
Edward DeBartolo was voted down by American League owners in his attempt to buy the White Sox from Bill Veeck. DeBartolo, the man who invented the modern shopping mall in Boardman, Ohio, owned horse racing tracks and wasn’t from the Chicago area — both considered “red flags” by the other owners.

In an effort to appease then commissioner Bowie Kuhn, DeBartolo agreed to live in Chicago at least 20% of the time to have a direct idea of what was going on with the franchise. His compromises fell on deaf ears, as he only received three yes votes. The way was then opened for the group headed by Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn to get the franchise.


1981
In another fine deal pulled off by Hemond, he sent shortstop Todd Cruz and outfielder Rod Allen to the Mariners for Tom “Wimpy” Paciorek. Tom made the All-Star team with the M’s in 1981 and would lead the Sox in hitting in 1983. He was also one of the craziest guys to ever do commercials for the club. After he retired, he worked in the Sox broadcasting booth from 1988 through 1999 and to this day does fill-in games for the club.


1996
After losing star pitcher Alex Fernandez to free agency and claiming that starting pitcher Kevin Tapani was faking an injury to his pitching hand (an injury so “fake” it forced Tapani to miss the first half of the 1997 season with the Cubs …), GM Ron Schueler signed pitcher Jaime Navarro to a four-year, $20 million deal. Navarro was a complete bust. His three-year record with the Sox was 25-43, and by many statistical measures he was the worst regular starting pitching in White Sox history.

Making matters worse was Schueler’s refusal to talk with the agents for Roger Clemens after Clemens had expressed an interest in joining the team, saying “Roger Clemens is over the hill.” During that same three-year period that Navarro was with the Sox, Clemens would win two Cy Young awards and 55 games.

Navarro eventually did do something positive for the franchise — he was part of a deal that brought José Valentín and Cal Eldred to the Sox in January 2000.

 

 

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: October 4

Bud man: By 1981, Harry had ditched the Falstaff for Budweiser. By 1982, he’d ditched the Sox. Here he is, broadcasting his last game, from Comiskey Park’s center field bleachers.


1948Chuck Comiskey III was named vice president of the White Sox. He refused to see the team continue to be the laughingstock of the American League and immediately began to take steps to change things on and off the field. Those changes started to bear fruit during the 1951 season.


1981Jerry Hairston’s grand slam helped beat the Minnesota Twins, 13-12, setting off Bill Veeck’s original exploding scoreboard for the last time. The blast came off of future White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper. The Sox trailed in the game 12-5 before scoring eight runs in the final two innings. The win gave the Sox their first “winning” year since 1977. The game also marked the end of broadcaster Harry Caray’s association with the Sox after 11 seasons.

Today in White Sox History: September 6

Mr. Incredible strikes again: Thome’s homer in the 15th ended the longest-ever September game between first-place teams.


Sept. 6, 1903 Guy “Doc” White of the White Sox hurled a one-hitter in beating the Cleveland Naps, 1-0, in 10 innings in a game in Chicago. It would be the first of five one-hitters thrown by White between 1903 and 1908.

(White never threw a no-hitter, by the way.)

He also threw one-hitters against the St. Louis Browns in 1904, Philadelphia Athletics and Browns in 1906, and Washington Senators in 1908. In addition to being a great pitcher, White was also a dentist and an evangelist. 


Sept. 6, 1905 — White Sox pitcher Frank Smith tossed a no-hitter at the Detroit Tigers. The Sox won that game easily, 15-0, and also won the second game of the twin bill by shutout. Smith would throw a second no-hitter in 1908, and also had three one-hitters between 1905 and 1910.


Sept. 6, 1971 — Sox pitcher Steve Kealey belted a three-run, eighth-inning home run at Comiskey Park off of the Minnesota Twins’ Ray Corbin. The clout helped the Sox to a 6-3 win. It would be the last time a Sox pitcher homered in a game at Comiskey Park. Kealey also picked up the save in the same game.


Sept. 6, 1981 — It was the beginning of the end for broadcaster Jimmy Piersall in connection with the White Sox. Piersall and Harry Caray appeared on the “The Mike Royko Show” on WLS-TV. Royko asked the duo how they handle baseball wives who disliked the comments they made about their husbands. Caray said, “You know what, Mike? I would love to call all the wives together someday and tell them what their husbands say about them across the ballfield.” Piersall’s answer was more controversial, to say the least: “First of all, they were horny broads that wanted to get married, and they wanted a little money, a little security and a big strong ballplayer. I traveled, I played. I got a load of those broads, too.”


Sept. 6, 1999 — In a doubleheader at Texas, manager Jerry Manuel and star DH Frank Thomas got into an argument after Thomas refused to pinch-hit in the nightcap. Manuel was livid, and sent Thomas back to Chicago. It was discovered after examination by team doctors that Thomas saying he was hurt rang true: They found a bone spur the size of a walnut on the outside of his ankle, which required surgery and ended his season.


Sept. 6, 2008 – The White Sox and Angels battled at U.S. Cellular Field for almost four hours in the middle of a pennant race, and played 15 innings to boot. That’s when Jim Thome blasted a monstrous home run deep into the right-field bleachers to end the game with a 7-6 White Sox win. The contest set the record for the longest game (by innings) ever played in September by two teams both in first place at the time. The home run was Thome’s 30th on the season.