Today in White Sox History: April 9

Spirit of ’76: Rudy Schaffer, Paul Richards and Bill Veeck went all-out in Veeck’s return to Chicago on Opening Day.


1963
The start of the season found the White Sox in Detroit, and it was a highlight game for third baseman Pete Ward. Ward smacked a seventh-inning, three-run home run off Jim Bunning to push the Sox into the lead, and he also made a barehanded pick-up-and-throw-out of a slow roller hit by Al Kaline. The Sox would win, 7-5, and it would be the start of Ward’s co-American League Rookie of the Year campaign.


1971
It was the largest home opener in years, as 43,253 fans poured into Comiskey Park to see the “New Look” White Sox under GM Roland Hemond and manager Chuck Tanner. Ownership was completely caught with their pants down by the turnout, as concession stands and vendors ran out of items by the middle of the game!

The Sox wouldn’t disappoint, as Rich McKinney’s two-out, ninth-inning single scored Rich Morales with the game-winning run in the 3-2 victory over Minnesota.


1976
Owner Bill Veeck was back, and 40,318 fans turned out to say welcome home on Opening Day. They got their money’s worth, as in a tribute to the U.S. Bicentennial, Veeck, manager Paul Richards and front office executive Rudy Schaffer presented the colors dressed as the fife player, drummer and flag bearer of the Revolutionary War. Wilbur Wood tossed a complete game six-hitter and Jim Spencer had a two-run home run in the 4-0 win against Kansas City.


1977
The White Sox defeated the Blue Jays, 3-2, in Toronto for the franchise’s first-ever regular-season win outside of the United States. Oscar Gamble’s home run in the fourth put the Sox on top to stay, and the team added two more in the fifth. Chris Knapp got the win and Lerrin LaGrow earned his first save in what would be the best season of his career. He’d end 1977 with 25 of them and a 2.46 ERA.


1985
For future Hall-of-Famer Tom Seaver, it was his record 14th Opening Day start. For Ozzie Guillén, it was his major league debut. The two of them combined to help the Sox beat Milwaukee, 4-2, at County Stadium. Guillén would get his first hit in the big leagues that day, a bunt single off of future Sox pitcher Ray Searage in the ninth inning.


1990
It was the last home opener at the original Comiskey Park, and the Sox made it a good one in beating the Brewers, 2-1. Scott Fletcher’s sacrifice fly scored Sammy Sosa with what turned out to be the winning run. Barry Jones got the win, with Bobby Thigpen picking up the first of what would be a record-setting 57 saves in a season.


1993
During the home opener with the Yankees, Bo Jackson showed that the human spirit is simply amazing. Jackson, playing with an artificial hip, hammered a Neal Heaton pitch into the right field seats for a home run. It was Jackson’s first at-bat since his hip replacement, caused by an injury he suffered during his days as an All-Pro running back for the Raiders.

Jackson would end up with 16 home runs, including one in late September against Seattle that won the White Sox the Western Division title. As far as the baseball hit off Heaton, a fan returned it to him and he later had it encased and welded to his late mother’s headstone.


 

Today in White Sox History: March 23

Miracle man: King came out of nowhere to be an ace of two White Sox teams — one really bad, the other pretty terrific. (Bowman)


1989
The White Sox traded Ken Williams (who would eventually become the club’s GM and vice president) to Detroit for pitcher Eric King. Williams never achieved any measure of consistency in the big leagues. King, on the other hand, had two terrific seasons with the White Sox, going 21-14 with a 3.34 ERA and 5.1 bWAR.

Williams and teammate Ozzie Guillén had a close bond; in fact, Gullén was the one who broke the news (with tears in his eyes) to Williams that he had been traded.

 

 

Today in White Sox History: December 23

EIC fave: Memories of losing Chet Lemon were softened when Tim Raines came to the White Sox, making one particular fan rather ecstatic. (Baseball Digest)


1990
White Sox fans got an early Christmas gift as new GM Ron Schueler made one of his best deals, sending outfielder Ivan Calderon and pitcher Barry Jones to Montreal for All-Star left fielder and stolen base threat Tim Raines and pitcher Jeff Carter. Montreal first insisted on Melido Perez in the deal, but were talked down after Schueler made a trade for Cory Snyder, lessening Chicago’s outfield needs.

Raines would provide speed at the top of the order, swiping 143 bases in his five years with the Sox. He hit .444 in the 1993 ALCS against Toronto.

Today in White Sox History: October 30

Top hardware: Nellie Fox (left) and Early Wynn get their 1959 MVP and Cy Young awards from AL president Will Harridge early in 1960 season.


1959 — He was acquired before the start of the 1958 season, and part of the cost was trading the popular Minnie Miñoso. And pitcher Early Wynn didn’t start out on the right side of things with a lot of Sox fans, with a mediocre 1958 season.

In 1959, however, Wynn turned back the clock, leading the majors with 22 wins to go along with an ERA of 3.17. That won Wynn the Cy Young Award. He got 13 of the 16 votes. This was a time when only one award was given, to the best pitcher in baseball, as opposed the present day when a pitcher from both leagues is honored. 

Sam Jones of the Giants got two votes, with Bob Shaw of the White Sox getting the final one. Wynn also led the league in starts, innings pitched and batters faced.


1990 — White Sox manager Jeff Torborg was named the Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers Association of America after guiding the team to a record of 94-68. The Sox shocked the baseball world: After being picked to finish no higher than fourth place, they instead challenged the eventual AL champion Oakland A’s right into September, and were the only club in the league to have won the season series from them. Only the A’s and the Pittsburgh Pirates had better records during the season than the White Sox. Torborg got 23 of 28 first place votes for 128 points. Oakland’s Tony La Russa, the former Sox skipper, picked up the other four first-place votes and finished up with 72 points. Joe Morgan of the Red Sox got the final first place vote, finishing third with 28 points.

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 29

Blood brothers: Ozzie Guillén and Ken Williams celebrate the division title.


Sept. 29, 1908 — White Sox starting pitcher Ed Walsh fired two complete games in a doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox. He won both by the scores of 5-1 and 2-0. In 1908, Walsh would have arguably the greatest pitching year in the history of the game, winning 40 times with an ERA of 1.42.


Sept. 29, 1917 — With a 3-1 win in the second game of a doubleheader in New York, the White Sox won their 100th game of the season. That remains the most wins in a single season in franchise history. Eddie Cicotte picked up the win.


Sept. 29, 1920 — With the White Sox leading the American League late in the season, pitcher Eddie Cicotte and outfielder Joe Jackson confessed (without an attorney present) that they helped throw the 1919 World Series. Charles Comiskey suspended eight players; the Sox collapsed down the stretch and blew the pennant, losing out to Cleveland by two games.


Sept. 29, 1921 — One of the “clean” White Sox, pitcher Dickie Kerr, was honored with a day at Comiskey Park. Kerr then went out and fired one of his best games, blanking Cleveland on six hits to win, 5-0.

Sept. 29, 1967 — The Sox still had a chance for the pennant, but lost 1-0 to the Senators. The only run was set up when first baseman Tommy McCraw wasn’t able to catch a pop up off the bat of Washington’s Fred Valentine in the first inning. NBC-TV had erected a barrier for their field level cameras in case the World Series came to Comiskey Park, and Valentine’s pop fell into that enclosed area near the visitor’s dugout. Valentine then singled to drive in the only run.

The 1967 season marked the 17th straight year that the Sox finished better than .500.


Sept. 29, 1990 — The last night game ever played at the original Comiskey Park was won by the White Sox, 4-2. Frank Thomas slapped a two-run single up the middle off Seattle Mariners starter Matt Young to drive in the go-ahead runs.

Sept. 29, 2005 — The White Sox beat the Tigers in Detroit, 4-2, clinching the Central Division title. The Sox won 99 regular season games and led the division every day of the season (and remain one of the few teams in baseball history to go wire-to-wire). The Sox then blitzed through the postseason, going 11-1 on their way to the world championship. They swept Houston in four games to get it.


Sept. 29, 2008 — White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramírez set a major league rookie record when he hit his fourth grand slam of the season in an 8-2 win over the Tigers. The home run would also tie the franchise record for most grand slams in a season. Albert Belle originally set that mark in 1997.

Today in White Sox History: September 15

Double his pleasure: Lyons was so great for the White Sox, the franchise honored him with two “Days.”


Sept. 15, 1940Ted Lyons Day was held at Comiskey Park. The “Baylor Bearcat” won 260 games with the club and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1955. His No. 16 would be retired in 1987. This was the second time Lyons was honored this way, the first time coming in 1933.


Sept. 15, 1964 — In his first at-bat in the American League after many seasons in the NL, pinch-hitter deluxe Forrest “Smoky” Burgess belted a game-tying home run at Detroit. The Sox would eventually beat the Tigers 3-2 in 10 innings, keeping their pennant hopes alive. Burgess would lead the league in pinch hits in 1965 and 1966.


Sept. 15, 1970 — Shortly after taking over as the new director of player personnel, Roland Hemond targeted the man who’d eventually in his words, “save” the franchise. Hemond called Bing Devine to see what the chances were of making a deal for Cardinals slugger Dick Allen. Devine turned him down, but 15 months later Hemond would get his man — from the Los Angeles Dodgers.


Sept. 15, 1983 — The White Sox set the franchise record for most runs scored in the sixth inning of a game when they got 11 in a 12-0 win over the Seattle Mariners at Comiskey Park. LaMarr Hoyt got the win, his 21st on the season. The game only lasted seven innings due to rain. Harold Baines had a grand slam, as the Sox cut their magic number down to two for winning the division. The Sox sent 17 men to the plate in the sixth, which saw them get nine hits.


Sept. 15, 1990 — Owner Jerry Reinsdorf fired GM Larry Himes, citing “personality differences.” Himes drafted and signed future White Sox stars like Frank Thomas, Jack McDowell, Robin Ventura and Alex Fernandez. During the press conference announcing the hiring of Ron Schueler as new GM, Reinsdorf issued his famous “point A to point B to point C” comment. Later in a rare radio appearance he was candid on the subject to host Chet Coppock: “The fact is, Larry Himes cannot get along with anybody. You can hardly find anybody in the Sox organization that wasn’t happy when Larry Himes left.”


Sept. 15, 1996Frank Thomas slugged his 215th home run in a Sox uniform, breaking Carlton Fisk’s team record. Thomas homered three times at Fenway Park off the Red Sox’s Tim Wakefield, yet the Sox lost the game, 9-8.


Sept. 15, 1997 — In an 11-10 loss in Milwaukee, Sox rookies Mario Valdez and Jeff Abbott both hit their first big league home runs. Valdez got his in the fifth inning, Abbott an inning later.

Today in White Sox History: September 3

Ol’ Aches and Pains: Felt the twinge of a broken hitting streak in Boston. (Play Ball)

Sept. 3, 1936Luke Appling’s then-club record 27-game hitting streak ended in Boston, courtesy of Red Sox pitcher Wes Farrell. Appling’s record would stand until 2004, when Carlos Lee broke it by hitting in 28 straight games.


Sept. 3, 1990 — White Sox relief pitcher Bobby Thigpen set the major league mark when he earned his 47th save of the season in a win over the Kansas City Royals. He’d finish the year with 57 saves, which stood as the single-season mark until 2008. In 1990, Thigpen would also win four games and have an ERA of 1.83 … naturally he was named the Fireman of the Year.