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: 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 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.