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WSI News - Audio Memories

Sox Audio Memories from White Sox Interactive 1959 Clincher

Sox Audio Memories from White Sox Interactive

 The Go-Go Fifties!

Memorable audio moments  from the greatest of Sox decades--exclusively from WSI!

By Mark Liptak

Oh... to be a White Sox fan in the fifties.

The period of time from 1950 through 1959 may have been the greatest decade in the one hundred plus years of the ball club. It was a decade of sustained excellence when the White Sox fought tooth and nail seemingly every year against the Yankees dynasty. Unlike the other top level teams in the A.L., the Red Sox, the Indians and the Tigers, the Sox were never under the .500 mark when their run of seventeen consecutive winning seasons began in 1951. Playing a season that only had 154 games, the Sox never had fewer then 81 wins. Four times they finished with over 90, culminated by their first pennant in forty years when the took the 1959 championship with a record of 94-60.


Chico Carrasquel and Nellie Fox turn the double-play!

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In the ten year stretch the Sox average record was 85-70. They finished 6th (in an eight team league) in 1950, then 4th in 1951. After that, for the next eight years, they never finished lower then 3rd place. From 1952 through 1956 they came in 3rd. In 1957 and 1958 they were 2nd and to close out the decade, 1959, they were on top.

If you were wealthy enough to have one of those "new " televisions, you could watch the Sox on WGN. Jack Brickhouse did Sox games the entire ten years, along with sidekicks Harry Creighton (1950 - 1955), and Vince Lloyd (1955 - 1959).

For those who preferred the radio, Sox games were broadcast on WJJD in 1950 and 1951. From 1952 through 1959 they were on WCFL. Bob Elson, "The Commander," was the main radio voice of the Sox, having started in that job in 1944. Dick Bingham (1952) and Don Wells (1953 - 1959) helped him, with Wells going on to become one of the original voices of the Los Angeles Angels. (Can anyone forget such sponsors as "Friendly" Bob Adams for HFC, White Owl cigars, and Coca-Cola?)

During the 1950's stars werenít only in the heavens, they were on the playing field at Comiskey Park. The Sox were blessed with tremendous talent, especially pitching, that enabled them to play their style very successfully.

That style was to run, steal, take the extra base... force the opposition into making a mistake. Fundamentals and execution were the order of the day. Bunting, hitting the other way, advancing runners, getting the sacrifice fly were considered essential requirements of Sox players. Thatís not to say they didnít appreciate the home run, but with Comiskey Park being so big, Sox sluggers were few and far between.

Give the Sox a two run lead, especially late in the game, and you could take it to the bank they were going to win. A two run lead was a laugher to the Sox, their pitching was that good.

Leading those stars were exceptional managers, some of the finest the game has produced including Paul Richards (1951 - 1954), Marty Marion (1954 - 1956) and Hall Of Famer Al Lopez (1957 - 1959).

As mentioned, they had the talent to work with. During the 1950's these were the Sox players who made the All Star Team (selected in those days, by the media and players) Rae Scarborough (1), "Chico" Carrasquel (4), Nellie Fox (9), Jim Busby (1), Randy Gumpert (1), "Minnie" Minoso (5), Eddie Robinson (2), Billy Pierce (6), Ferris Fain (2), Sandy Consuegra (1), Bob Keegan (1), Sherm Lollar (5), Virgil "Fire" Trucks (1), George Kell (1), Dick Donovan (1), Jim Wilson (1), Luis Aparicio (2) and Early Wynn (2). Thatís four future Hall Of Famers and two more (Minoso and Pierce) who should be.

Individual awards during the 50's went to Fox (1959) as MVP, Minoso (1951) and Aparicio (1956) were Rookie Of The Year, Wynn won the Cy Young (1959), Pierce (1956 ,1957) and Wynn (1959) were Pitcher Of The Year. Fox (2), Lollar (3), Minoso (1) and Aparicio (2) won Gold Gloves and Fox (4), Pierce (2), Lollar (1) and Wynn (1) were selected to The Sporting News All Star Team (which was a season ending team comprised of the best from both leagues.)

Behind the ownership of the Comiskey family and later Bill Veeck, the Sox topped the one million fan mark for the first time in 1951 and with the exception of 1958, passed it every other year in the decade. It was a great time to be a Sox fan, with the Cubs not even a blip on the radar screens of Chicago.

With that historical backdrop here are some of the finest moments from the White Sox in the 1950's...

1. May 16, 1953. (Final Record: 89-65, 3rd place) White Sox at Yankees.

    He wasnít much of a pitcher, at least with the Sox, but Tommy Byrne could hit. In the top of the 9th inning in a game at Yankee Stadium, with the bases loaded, two out and the Sox down 3-1, Manager Paul Richards sent Byrne out to pinch hit against side arming relief ace Ewell  "The Whip" Blackwell. On a 2-2 count Blackwell hung a pitch and Byrne drove it into the right field lower deck for a grand slam giving the Sox the lead. Theyíd go on to win 5-3. It is probably the only time in franchise history that a pitcher delivered a pinch hit grand slam. Luis  Aloma got the win in relief of Billy Pierce. Sox announcer Bob Elson proved on this call, that he did have the ability to show some emotion! Courtesy: WCFL Radio. Let me hear it!


The seventh son of a seventh son, Sox manager Al Lopez!

2. May 4, 1954. (Final record: 94-60, 3rd place) White Sox at Senators.

    An early season series with Washington would prove to be a good one for the Sox. Billy Pierce started this game and for a change actually got some run support. Leading 1-0, the Sox loaded the bases on Senators pitcher Mickey McDermott. "Minnie" Minoso then cleared them with one swing. Minosoís blast put the Sox up 5-0 and would provide enough cushion to withstand a late Washington rally. Pierce and the Sox would win this one 8-6. Bob Elson has the play by play. Courtesy: WCFL Radio. Let me hear it!

3. September 22, 1959. (Final Record: 94-60, 1st place) White Sox at Indians.

    A lot was on the line this night as the Sox were a single win away from clinching their first American League Championship in forty years. Put it another way, an entire generation had lived (and in some cases died) without seeing the Sox win a title. Al Smith and "Jungle" Jim Rivera clubbed back to back home runs to give the Sox a 4-2 cushion as they headed into the last of the 9th inning in Cleveland. Before a sold out throng the Tribe loaded the bases with one out. Sox manager Al Lopez called in relief ace Gerry Staley to face the dangerous Vic Power.     Staley threw one pitch, and the Sox won the pennant! Jack Brickhouse called the action and his subsequent joy afterwards dispelled any later myths that he never cared for the Sox and was simply another shrill for the Cubs. Courtesy: WGN-TV. Let me hear it!

4. September 30, 1959. Howard Cosell interviews Nellie Fox.

    As Sox star Billy Pierce told me, it was very unusual for his close friend and roommate to do any     interviews and when he did they usually were short in nature. Thatís why it was such a surprise to find this. This interview was part of the program called "World Series Special," that aired on the Mutual Radio Network the day before the 1959 World Series was scheduled to begin. The National League playoff had just ended with the Dodgers emerging victorious, apparently Cosell and Fox watched that game and then took part in the radio special. After Pierce heard this tape I asked him if he knew where Nellie was when he did it. Pierce wasnít sure but guessed it was probably in Chicago where the Sox were scheduled to host the first two games. He was positive that it wasnít in New York since Fox wouldnít have had a lot of time to return the next day and get ready for the opening game. Courtesy: Mutual Radio. Let me hear it!


Magic Up the Middle:
Nellie Fox & Luis Aparicio on the cover of Sports Illustrated!

5. October 1, 1959 Game #1 1959 World Series. Dodgers at White Sox

    So it finally came to pass...the White Sox actually in a World Series. Game #1 matched up Roger Craig versus Early Wynn but Craig wasnít around long as the Sox hammered him and the Dodgers 11-0. It proved to be the high water mark for the series, and the decade as subsequently the Dodgers would handcuff Sox hitters, shut down the vaunted running attack and get just enough clutch hits to take the series four games to two. The Sox havenít been close to getting back to the series since.

    Weíve got a few highlights from this game for you to enjoy starting with the first of a pair of home runs from Ted Kluszewski. "Big Klu" would tie a World Series record with five RBIís in this game. This first home run came in the 3rd inning. The Sox were leading 3-0, Jim Landis was on first base. Longtime Phillies announcer Byrum Saam is calling the action. Courtesy:  Mutual Radio. Let me hear it!

    Our second highlight from Game #1 involved Jim Landis. Landis was one of the few Sox players to have a good series (7 for 24, .292 BA, 6 RS). In the 4th inning of Game #1 he was already coming up for his third at bat. Just like the first two, heíd come through, ripping a solid single off the Dodgers Chuck Churn. Once again Byrum Saam handles the call. Courtesy: Mutual Radio.     Let me hear it!

    Highlight number three from Game #1 brings Ted Kluszewski back into the picture. "Big Klu" had already launched a home run in the 3rd inning with Roger Craig on the mound. Now in the 4th inning, with Landis on first, heíd do it again with a long blast off Churn. This would be Churnís final appearance in a major league uniform. He never pitched another inning in the big leagues after giving up the home run. Kluszewski would go on to drive in ten runs in the six game series, becoming the first player in MLB history to have double figure RBIís in the Fall Classic.  Byrum Saam is still behind the microphone for this one. Courtesy: Mutual Sports. Let me hear it!

    The final highlight from Game #1 and to close out this look back at the 50's, is appropriately enough, the final out of Game #1. Gerry Staley came in to relieve Early Wynn. The report was the his elbow stiffened up, which may have led to his ineffectiveness in his other appearances.  Staley would slam the door without incident in this one as Sox fans dreamed of not only a championship but perhaps even a sweep. Alas it never came to pass. Itís Carl Furillo at bat.     Hall Of Fame announcer Mel Allen is calling the action. Courtesy: Mutual Radio. Let me hear it!

So there you go, eight of the finest moments from a decade many Sox fans feel was the "Golden Age," of the franchise. Our next historical look back will encompass "the Successful Sixties." It was a decade when the Sox continued to win, were involved in two of the greatest pennant races ever and continued with the tradition of incomparable pitching staffs.


As always comments, questions, opinions and different points of view are appreciated. Contact me at mliptak1@ida.net

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