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: January 14

Steal of a deal: Ed Short snagged four cornerstones of the mid-1960s White Sox, including Pete Ward, in a single trade in 1963.


1963
In a move that re-energized the franchise and led directly to back-to-back-to-back 90-or-more-win seasons in 1963, 1964 and 1965. White Sox GM Ed Short traded shortstop Luis Aparicio and outfielder Al Smith to the Baltimore Orioles for third baseman Pete Ward, outfielder Dave Nicholson, shortstop Ron Hansen and relief pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm.

Ward would be named co-Rookie of the Year (with teammate Gary Peters) and would supply power for the next few seasons. Nicholson, who struck out far too much, would have 22 home runs and 70 RBIs in 1963. Hansen would be one of the best defensive shortstops in the league and hit as many as 20 home runs in a season, at a time when shortstops simply didn’t do that. Wilhelm became the top relief pitcher of the 1960’s; in his six years with the Sox he’d win 41 games and save 98 others while producing some astonishingly low ERAs considering he threw the knuckleball.


2001
The White Sox acquired pitcher David Wells from Toronto, basically for pitcher Mike Sirotka. Over the coming weeks and months, Sirotka and the Blue Jays claimed the Sox knew that Sirotka had a bad arm and couldn’t pitch. Sox GM Ken Williams defended himself by saying that he told the Jays he thought Sirotka might be hurt and offered pitcher Jim Parque instead. Commissioner Bud Selig ruled in late March that the trade would stand. The whole episode became known as “Shouldergate.”

 

 

Today in White Sox History: November 29

Bronx brawler: Buzhardt earned just 6.1 bWAR over six South Side seasons, but his Yankee-killing made him worth the price of admission. (Topps)


1961 — The White Sox sent slugging infielder Roy Sievers to the Phillies for two players, including pitcher Johnny Buzhardt. Buzhardt would become part of the stellar Sox starting rotation in the mid-60s. He was particularly good against the Yankees, going 7-0 against them between 1962 and 1967.


1963 – He had a spectacular 1963 season, and because of it Gary Peters was named the American League Rookie of the Year by the Baseball Writers Association of America. The star left-handed pitcher went 19-8 with a 2.33 ERA and had 189 strikeouts in 243 innings pitched. He won 11 straight games at one point. He also hit .259, with three home runs and 12 RBIs. Peters would go on to win 20 games in 1964, lead the league in ERA in 1966 and make the All-Star team twice. He got 10 of 20 first place votes in beating out his teammate, power-hitting third baseman Pete Ward.

Ward, who would be named American League Rookie of the Year by The Sporting News, hit .295 with 22 home runs, 84 RBIs and had 177 hits that season. Ward got six first place votes among the baseball writers while Jimmy Hall of the Twins got the final four votes.


1967 — The White Sox reacquired shortstop Luis Aparicio from the Orioles as part of a six-player deal. Aparicio would have his best offensive seasons in the next few years, but speedy Don Buford was part of the return bounty for the Orioles. Buford would go on to have his best seasons with Baltimore, and was a key part of their dynasty in the late 1960s/early 1970s.

 

 

Today in White Sox History: September 25

Culpable: Ward had a pair of solo home runs during a strange Sox streak in ’65.


Sept. 25, 1965 — The White Sox set the franchise record by hitting their 15th consecutive solo home run. The streak started at Baltimore on September 2, when Johnny Romano homered in the second game of a doubleheader. The run continued until this day in New York. Pitcher Tommy John hit the last home run in the streak. The breakdown saw Ken Berry with five solo home runs, Don Buford, Romano and Pete Ward with a pair each and John, Floyd Robinson, Moose Skowron and Bill Voss with one solo home run. The Sox would tie this rather odd record in 2016.