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: April 5

Spectacular start: Buehrle didn’t just win to begin 2010, he made a defensive play for the ages. (YouTube)


1960
Shortly before the season opened, the White Sox further decimated their stock of young talent by shipping future All-Star and power-hitting catcher Earl Battey along with future power-hitting All-Star first baseman Don Mincher to the Washington Senators for power-hitting first baseman Roy Sievers.

Sievers gave the Sox some good years, averaging 27 home runs, 92 RBIs and a .295 batting average in two seasons. He had a 21-game hitting streak in 1960 and made the All-Star team in 1961. But Battey, who cried when he was told he was traded, may have won the Sox the pennant in 1964, 1967 or both just by himself (to say nothing of other players shipped out that offseason like Johnny Romano, Norm Cash and Johnny Callison.) Battey would go on to make four All-Star appearances and win three Gold Gloves at catcher. Mincher would become a two-time All-Star.


1974
The White Sox opened the season at home under freezing conditions versus the Angels and Nolan Ryan. The Sox started Wilbur Wood, which prompted broadcaster Harry Caray to comment that the game was “The tortoise against the hare.” This time the hare won, as Ryan and the Angels got an easy 8-2 victory.

The game did have its moments, however. The streaking craze had hit college campuses and on this day a few young ladies in the upper deck decided to partially streak while a young man jumped the outfield fence and ran naked through left field before being hoisted back into the stands by his friends. Sox manager Chuck Tanner had one of the best lines anywhere when asked what he thought about the outfield streaker: “I wasn’t impressed by him.” (nudge, nudge, wink, wink … say no more!)


1977
Literally a few hours before the team was to head north to open the season, owner Bill Veeck traded shortstop Russell “Bucky” Dent to the Yankees. Salary was the reasoning behind the deal, and Veeck’s comment that “I’d trade Dent even-up for any other starting shortstop in the American League” didn’t help matters.

In return the White Sox got outfielder Oscar Gamble, pitcher Bob Polinsky, minor league pitcher LaMarr Hoyt and $200,000. Gamble would be a big part of the 1977 hitting orgy, while Hoyt would have some good seasons with the Sox culminating in the 1983 Cy Young Award.


2004
New Manager Ozzie Guillén figured he had his debut game all wrapped up, as the Sox took a 7-3 lead into the ninth inning at Kansas City. Over the next 20 minutes, the Royals scored six runs to take the game, 9-7. The amazing rally set the modern record for the most runs scored in the ninth inning to win a game on Opening Day.


2010
Mark Buehrle made his eighth Opening Day start, setting the franchise record and breaking the tie he had with Billy Pierce.
Buehrle was brilliant in the 6-0 win over Cleveland, but what everyone was talking about after the game was the play he made on a hard-hit ball off the bat of Lou Marson in the fifth inning. Both ESPN and the MLB Network called it the play of the year.

Marson’s shot ricocheted off Buehrle’s leg and ricocheted towards foul ground on the first-base side of the field. Buehrle sprinted off the mound, fielded the ball with his glove and flipped it between his legs to Paul Konerko, who made a barehanded catch to nip Marson by a step. It was simply an incredible play.


 

 

Today in White Sox History: February 24

Damn Yankees: The Bronx Bombers lifted Eddie Lopat off of the White Sox 72 years ago. 


1948
White Sox GM Les O’Connor sent pitcher Eddie Lopat to the Yankees for three players. Lopat, a soft tossing, off-speed pitcher would quickly develop into one of the aces on the Yankees dynasty clubs of the 1950s. Of the players the Sox got in return, only pitcher Bill Wight had any success on the South Side, winning 34 games in three seasons. Another one of the players acquired, catcher Aaron Robinson, would be flipped that November to the Tigers for a youngster named Billy Pierce.

 

A Conversation With: Billy Pierce

Ascent to superstardom: Pierce pitched his way out of arm trouble here in 1954 and began his ascent to a Hall of Fame-caliber career. (Acme Wire Photo)


I first got to know Billy Pierce in the summer of 2002 when I contacted him to do an interview. He was warm and generous over the phone, and from there a friendship developed. We’d talk a few times a year, I’d call him on his birthday, and whenever I got back to Chicago I’d usually hook up with him and his wife Gloria, who opened their home in Lamont to me. When he passed away in July 2015 and I got the news, I was completely shocked. I never knew Bill was even sick. Doing his obituary was literally one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done; it’s hard to type when your eyes are filled with tears. Simply put, Billy was one of the nicest people I ever had the pleasure to meet, and his baseball accomplishments speak for themselves. Here is the interview that started the relationship. Rest in peace, my friend.


Billy Pierce … just saying the name evokes memories of another time in America.

It was a time when baseball was the national pastime, when the White Sox didn’t play second fiddle to anyone, especially in their own city. It was a time when the players actually cared (especially about winning), when owners actually tried to do their best to win instead of making excuses about profit margins, and when kids all over the country could recite the starting lineups of most teams in baseball just as easily as their math tables.

It was a time when even the worst teams like Washington and Kansas City had players of the caliber of Harmon Killebrew, Roy Sievers and Roger Maris.

Billy Pierce was right in the middle of it.

Despite being small in size, “Billy the Kid” proved he was among the best pitchers in baseball, and did it consistently for more than 10 years. The list of his accomplishments could go on forever but we’ll only highlight some of them, especially for fans who never saw him play:

  • Won 186 games with the White Sox from 1949-1961 (211 overall)
  • Had 11 years of double-digit wins (12 overall)
  • 20-game winner in 1956 and 1957
  • Threw 35 shutouts (38 overall)
  • Had 19 saves (38 overall)
  • Led the American League in complete games in 1956, 1957 and 1958 (193 in his career)
  • Led the American League in ERA in 1955 (1.97; career ERA of 3.27)
  • Led the American League in strikeouts in 1953 (186; had 1,999 in his career)
  • Threw four one-hitters, including losing a perfect game with two outs in the ninth inning (1958)
  • Seven-time All-Star, and the only Sox pitcher to ever start an All-Star Game multiple times (1953, 1955, 1956)
  • Sports Illustrated cover boy in May 1957
  • Sport magazine cover boy for October 1957

Pierce was also respected as a genuine good guy who always had time for the fans. He treated everyone the same, whether it was then Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley (who had front-row season tickets right next to the Sox dugout) or the local grocer.

Pierce never embarrassed himself, the White Sox organization or the city of Chicago. His No. 19 was retired by the club in 1987.

Nobody ever had an unkind word for him:

“Billy was the first guy we ever got in a trade. He was a winning pitcher, a mainstay as we were building a championship club. When he’d pitch against Whitey Ford, you could sell the seats 25 times over. That’s how many fans wanted to see him pitch.” – Former White Sox owner Chuck Comiskey.

“That little guy had more courage per ounce than any ballplayer I ever saw. You didn’t need a relief pitcher when he pitched. If he had a one-run lead going into the seventh or eighth inning, the ball game was over.”–former White Sox GM Frank “Trader” Lane.


Mark Liptak: Billy, you were born and raised in Detroit. How did your involvement with baseball begin?

Billy Pierce: Like with most kids in those days we played in the schoolyards, played in the alley, played all the time. Nothing was organized, we just played. The old clichés are true: When we broke a bat, we’d nail it back together. When the ball blew apart, we’d wrap tape around it and keep playing, even though the ball looked like a football. We’d play wherever we could. If we couldn’t play baseball, we’d play softball. We just had fun playing. It wasn’t until I was 13 or 14 that I finally played on an organized team.

When did you realize you were good and could perhaps play at the pro level?

Playing in the pros never entered my mind. I played a lot, and was pretty good. You know how when kids get together and play, they choose up sides? I was always one of the first kids picked. I was a first baseman when I was 14, and the kid who was a pitcher on our team left and went to another club because they had better-looking uniforms. We were only about a week from starting play in our league and I threw hard, so I became the pitcher.

I was wild in those days! When I was in high school the scouts came around to see me, but I wanted to be a doctor. My dad was a pharmacist and I took a lot of classes to get ready for medical school. I had a scholarship, but I thought I’d try to play for two or three years and if it didn’t work out I’d use the scholarship and go back to school.

You only spent a few years in the minors, and suddenly you were a hometown kid playing for the hometown team. How did it feel the first time you pitched in the big leagues?

It was very exciting. It was in Boston, I’ll never forget it. I was 18 years old. The bullpen in those days was a long way away from the mound, and as I walked in our right fielder, center fielder and second baseman were shouting encouragement to me as I passed them. In those days, the veterans weren’t that hard on us rookies. [Pierce made his debut on June 1, 1945. He threw 3 ⅓ innings, allowing only one hit with four strikeouts. His catcher was his future manager, Paul Richards.]

You spent two years with the Tigers, and then on Nov. 10, 1948 you were traded to the White Sox for catcher Aaron Robinson. How did you hear about it and how did you feel?

I was at my girlfriend’s house, she’s now my wife, and we heard it over the radio. A DJ came on with a sports bulletin that said I was traded to Chicago. I wasn’t very happy about it, because it was just in the paper about two weeks before that the Tigers were going to rebuild and give all of us kids a chance to play. I did not want to go to either Chicago or Philadelphia. It’s not that I didn’t like Chicago, but in those days the stockyards were going full force and when you played in Comiskey Park, especially at night, the smell was unbelievable! It turned out to be a great break for me … the Sox had lost like a hundred games the year before and they were going to give everybody a chance.

In 1951 Paul Richards took over as manager, you had your first winning season, and the Sox started to take off. What was it about Richards that helped you personally and the team?

Paul was the best teaching manager I ever had anywhere, without question. Frank Lane made all the trades and brought the players in, guys like myself, and Nellie Fox, but Richards was always working with us. Paul for example, changed the bat that Nellie was using to that bottle style and turned him into a great hitter. [Pierce and Fox were roommates for 11 seasons with the Sox.]

Richards left to take over the Baltimore franchise but your career continued to prosper under Marty Marion, an underrated manager. What was it like to play for him?

Very good. I was surprised when he was left out and the Sox replaced him, because we played well under him. He wasn’t as good a teacher as Paul was, but then nobody was, but he was still very, very good.

Your career continued to roll along, culminating with the pennant year of 1959. For the city and the team it was the pinnacle of success, but for you personally, it wasn’t your best season. You missed six weeks with a hip injury and when it came time for the World Series, manager Al Lopez passed you over for a starting assignment. Older Sox fans still insist, if you start Game 2 instead of Bob Shaw, and win, the Sox take the Series. How difficult was that for you being relegated to only four innings of relief work?

It was very tough. It was a real hard thing. I appeared in three games and pitched well, but it was a disappointment. I still wanted the Sox to win, after all they were my teammates, but I was very glad when it was over. Let’s put it this way, I left town pretty quickly to try to forget about it all.

Did that affect your relationship with Lopez, and what did you think of him as a manager?

Al was a real good manager. His record shows that. He was a solid percentage baseball guy. I honestly think the controversy affected Al more than me. I wasn’t the culprit; all I could do was what he told me. He had to listen to the fans who wanted me to pitch, but I couldn’t do anything about it.

Still, clinching the pennant had to be exciting.

It was tremendous, the crowd that we had at Midway Airport! The toughest part about the trip was getting back home because so many people were out. I remember Earl Torgeson and I were in a cab and we were going down Garfield Boulevard, it had to be one or two o’clock in the morning, and fans were everywhere. They had flares lit up on the front lawns, everyone was outside their homes talking and celebrating.

Billy Pierce’s 1959 White Sox jersey. (Mark Liptak)

After the 1961 season you were traded to the Giants for pitchers Eddie Fisher, Dom Zanni and outfielder Bob Farley. As a Chicago baseball institution, were you shocked by what happened or did you look at it as a fresh start with a good San Francisco team?

Truthfully the way things were going the last few seasons, I expected it. All I did was ask [then-GM] Ed Short that if something happened that he please call me first before he told the media. Remember, the last time I was traded I heard about it over the radio. Short did call me one day and said he made a deal with San Francisco. I thanked him for letting me know, and that was it. I was really worried about how I was going to tell my son about it. He was nine or 10 at the time and grew up around Luis Aparicio, Nellie Fox and the guys. So my wife and I told him, and he looked up and said ‘Great, now I get to meet Willie Mays!’ So that was it, we got his seal of approval and moved on.

You at least finally got a chance to start in the 1962 World Series against your old friends, the Yankees. Did you at least get a measure of personal satisfaction out of that?

Without question. That whole period coming so late in my career … the playoff games against the Dodgers and then the World Series with the Yankees was very special. It was an exciting 10-day period especially, like I said, because it came so late for me. [In the NL playoff series, Pierce shut out the Dodgers 8-0 in Game 1, beating Sandy Koufax, then saved the pennant-clinching Game 3. In the World Series he started two games, winning Game 6 over Whitey Ford, 5-2. In 15 postseason innings, Pierce allowed eight hits and four runs.]

The 1962 pitching rubber from Candlestick Park, given to Billy Pierce. (Mark Liptak)

After the 1964 season and with 18 years of service, you retired. Was that an easy decision for you?

After the 1963 season I decided with my wife that the 1964 season would be it. In the fall of 1963 we moved to Chicago, where we’ve been ever since. This is where we wanted to be. Once I had made up my mind to retire, it was easy to accept. I was very willing to leave. It was much easier because it was on my terms.

Looking back Billy, which year was your best season?

I’d have to say 1955. I led the league that year in ERA at 1.97. It had been like 20 years since anybody ended a season with an ERA under two. I only went 15-10 that season, but I lost four games by the score of 1-0. I think I pitched as well as I did in 1956 when I won 20 games, but I just didn’t get some breaks. I also think that was my best year because in 1954 I was a little sore, so in 1955 the Sox gave me a little most rest between starts.

Game balls collected during Billy Pierce’s 20-win season in 1957. (Mark Liptak)

What was your best pitch and how hard did you throw?

I wish I could tell you. I know I read where Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams both said I threw very hard, but we didn’t have radar guns in those days. At first my best pitch was my fastball, but then about 1953 to 1955, I developed a good slider. A real, hard slider that would break in on guys six or seven inches. It would dart in on fellows.

Today many scouts simply look at how fast kids throw, but pitching is more than just raw speed, isn’t it?

Without a doubt. Speed is important, certainly that would be the first thing I looked for, but you’ve got to have some movement on a pitch. A straight fastball doesn’t do you any good; you have to have some natural movement on it. You also have to stay ahead of hitters. If you keep falling behind 2-0 in a count, you’re going to get hurt.

What was the secret to your success, especially for a guy your size?

“At em’” balls! [laughing]. Seriously, I worked hard when I pitched. I never believed in that approach where you’ve got to pace yourself. The first inning was just as important as the others. I also felt I had to get the weak hitters out. You couldn’t afford to give up hits to the eighth- or ninth-place hitters … those three, four and five guys were just too good to come up with guys on base.

Billy I’d like to talk about some of your individual accomplishments. You were named to seven All-Star teams, started three, appeared in four and pitched 10 ⅔ innings giving up four runs. This was when playing in the All-Star game meant something, and you were facing the best hitters in the game.

It did. You basically pitched three innings. They’ve changed that philosophy over the years. It wasn’t considered an exhibition game back then, you played to win, and you took it seriously. Just being there was an honor. I remember the 1953 game, my wife was in the hospital, and my son had just been born. I was starting the All-Star game in Cincinnati thinking about both of them. What a gift. I also remember the 1955 game in Milwaukee. Mickey Mantle hit a ball into the trees outside of the stadium.

You also threw four one-hitters, the best remembered on the night of June 27, 1958. You took a perfect game into the ninth inning against the Senators. You got the first two outs, then gave up a double just fair to a guy named Ed Fitzgerald. What goes through a pitcher’s mind when he gets that close to the ultimate game?

At the time, I didn’t think it was that important. I was a team guy, and we wound up winning the game. Sure, I wanted to get him out. He was a first-ball, fastball hitter. We threw him a low breaking ball that he hit off the end of the bat. I won the game [3-0], though, and that was more important to me at the time. Over the years however, I’ve had so many people tell me they were listening to the game on the radio or were at the park watching, that I’ve wanted that one pitch back more now than I ever did then.

You also threw one-hitters on June 15, 1950 (Yankees), April 16, 1953 (Browns) and June 11, 1959 (at Washington). Do you remember anything specific about those games, like who got the hit and in what inning?

The Yankees game, I remembered it rained a couple of times. Billy Johnson got a single to right field in the fifth inning. The St. Louis game, a guy named Bobby Young got a hit, a double I think, to right-center, in the seventh. I don’t remember anything at all about the game at Washington. Whoever got the hit must have done it very early in the game.[Senators hitter Ron Samford doubled to left in the third inning.]

How did you pitch to a friend of yours, Ted Williams

VERY carefully! He would absolutely kill a fastball. And if you should make him look bad on a swing he’d grab his cap and pull it down tighter — you better be careful on your next pitch. I faced a lot of great hitters, but I don’t know of anybody who was better. He’s the only guy I know, who, when he came up to bat, the other guys would be watching him from the dugout and not going inside or using the restroom. I know he didn’t get along with the media, but he was well-liked by the players. He was always helping guys, whether it was his teammates or guys on the other club.

Billy from talking with you and from everything that I’ve read or heard about you, you are a very modest man. What would it mean to you and your family for you to get a call from Cooperstown saying you are now in the Hall of Fame?

It would be a tremendous thrill, the culmination of my life, no question about it. My family and I would appreciate it very much. You have no way of knowing how the people vote; I’m sure all of them have their favorites, so we’ll just have to see.

Wrap up your career for me, will you?

I had a wonderful career. The fans in Chicago couldn’t have been nicer to me and my family. I am very thankful to them.

 

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 10


1948 — New White Sox GM Frank Lane made his first deal, and it was a beauty. Lane traded backup catcher Aaron Robinson to the Detroit Tigers for a young, left-handed pitcher named Billy Pierce. Pierce would become arguably the finest lefthander in White Sox history: He won 186 games in a Sox uniform with two 20-win seasons, seven All-Star selections and four one-hitters. He led the AL at various times in wins, complete games, ERA and strikeouts. He also was the first Chicago athlete to be put on the cover of Sports Illustrated (May 1957).


1993 Frank Thomas won his first MVP award, on the strength of a .317 batting average with 41 home runs and 128 RBIs. The Big Hurt was a large reason the Sox would win the Western Division championship. In a rarity, Thomas won his MVP by a unanimous vote of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Paul Molitor was a distant second. Thomas would repeat winning the award in 1994.


2014 — White Sox slugger José Abreu was named the unanimous winner by the Baseball Writers Association of America as the AL Rookie of the Year. He got all 30 votes on the basis of a spectacular first season in the major leagues, marked by a .317 average with 36 home runs and 107 RBIs. He led the major leagues in slugging percentage as well. Pitcher Matt Shoemaker of the Angels was second.

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.

Today in White Sox History: September 28


Sept. 28, 1932J. Louis Comiskey, the new owner and son of Charles Comiskey, tried to rebuild his franchise by sending $150,000 (an unheard-of sum in those days) to the Philadelphia A’s for infielder Jimmy Dykes, outfielder Al Simmons and utility man George “Mule” Haas.

Simmons would become a member of the Hall of Fame in 1953, and in three seasons with the Sox twice drove in more than 100 RBIs. Dykes would eventually manage the team for more than 12 full seasons, beginning in 1934. He had five winning years and one season at .500 in that time, by Brett Ballantini’s managerial WAR the best manager in White Sox history.


Sept. 28, 1953 — The White Sox beat the St. Louis Browns, 3-2, behind Billy Pierce. It was the last American League game ever played in St. Louis, as the Browns moved to Baltimore after the season.


Sept. 28, 1959 — The White Sox team photo appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The caption read: “Chicago’s New Champions Sit For Their Portrait.”


Sept. 28, 1997 Frank Thomas won the batting championship with a .347 average. He joined Luke Appling as the only White Sox players to do this. Thomas was one of only a handful of players in major league history with a batting title and at least 450 home runs to their credit. Thomas was also the largest player (both in height and weight) to ever win a batting crown.


Sept. 28, 2003 — White Sox starter Esteban Loaiza recorded his 21st win of the season, beating the Royals 5-1. The 21 wins tied the major league record for the most wins in a season by a pitcher born in Mexico. Loaiza tied the mark set by Fernando Valenzuela in 1986.

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.”