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WSI News - Season Features

The Go-Go Sox era!

Part Two.
Expect the Unexpected: A Sox History.

by Mark Liptak

In Part One, we reviewed the first fifty years of unexpected Sox history.† Here we recount the glorious and near-glorious Go-Go era, 1950-1967.

So join me as we go down a little traveled road, a highway if you will. Iíll be your guide but first we have to give a big tip of the 1959 White Sox cap to Sox historian Rich Lindberg, author of "Whoís On 3rd?" and "The White Sox Encyclopedia".† Additional inspiration came from the work of Sox author Bob Vanderberg, including "'59: Summer of the Sox" and "Minnie and the Mick".

††† April 1950- What would become an early version of "Shouldergate" takes place as the Sox trade John Ostrowski to the Yankees for Dick Wakefield. Wakefield refuses to report unless the Sox restore a salary cut imposed by New York. The Yankees say the deal was made in good faith. The Sox request a hearing and commissioner A.B."Happy" Chandler rules that Ostrowski can go back to the Sox because the final papers on the trade were never signed.

††† July 11, 1950- The All Star Game returns to Comiskey Park and sees the National League win 4-3 in 13 innings.

††† May 1, 1951- A significant game in White Sox history because both Mickey Mantle and Minnie Minoso hit their first Major League home runs in this one. Minosoís shot was in the first inning off the Yankees Vic Raschi. Minoso also became the first black player to appear in a game for the Sox. New York wound up winning 8-3.

††† May 15, 1951- With the Sox leading Boston 7-6 in the 9th inning, manager Paul Richards takes out pitcher Harry Dorish with Ted Williams coming to bat. Only he doesnít take Dorish out of the game! Dorish is moved to 3rd base with Billy Pierce replacing him on the mound. After Pierce retires Williams, Richard removes Pierce and puts Dorish back on the hill. Oh by the way, the White Sox win in the 11th inning.

††† July 27, 1951- The Sox trail the Yankees 3-2 when the game is delayed 25 minutes by rain. When play resumes the Sox score two more to lead 4-3. Yankee manager Casey Stengel begins stalling hoping for more rain. He gets his wish and the game is called reverting back to a 3-1 Yankees win. That second rain delay lasts a whole 10 minutes! The Sox protest the decision with the league office to no avail.

††† May 16, 1953- Pitcher Tommy Byrne becomes the only Sox pitcher ever to hit a grand slam. His shot is as a pinch hitter in the 9th inning of a game at Yankee Stadium. The Sox scored five in the 9th to win 5-3.

††† June 25, 1953- Once again manager Paul Richards pulls the switcheroo. With the Sox going for a series sweep of New York and leading 4-2 in the 9th, Richards brings in pitcher Harry Dorish and moves Billy Pierce to 1st base. After Dorish retires his two men, Pierce is brought back to the mound to end the game.

††† September 28, 1953- The Sox beat the St. Louis Browns 3-2 behind Billy Pierce. Itís the last American League game ever played in St. Louis since the Browns would be moved to Baltimore.

††† April 23, 1955- The Sox first ever visit to Kansas City proves to be a memorable one as they beat the Aís 29- 6 blasting seven home runs. Also during this series "Jungle" Jim Rivera hits a home run to win the game then says to former first lady Bess Truman who was watching , "Iím sure sorry my home run beat your club, but it was a helluva wallop, eh Bess?"

††† July 30, 1955- With the Sox in a three way tie for first place, pitcher Dick Donovan has an appendicitis attack. At the time, Donovan is 13 - 4 with a 2.64 ERA. He doesnít return until late August and goes 2 - 5. The Sox fall out of contention.

††† June 21, 1956- It was either a case of great pitching, or terrible hitting as the Sox beat the Orioles 1-0 in a game that took just two hours and twelve minutes. Both Baltimore starter Connie Johnson and the Sox Jack Harshman allowed the other team only a single hit.

††† October 29, 1956- Al Lopez replaces Marty Marion as field manager.

††† May 18, 1957- It was one of the strangest games ever in Sox history. The Sox went into Baltimore with a six game winning streak to play the Oís in a night game. Because the Sox had to catch a midnight train for Boston both clubs agreed to end the game at 10:20 pm regardless of inning or who was ahead. With the Sox leading 4-3 with thirty seconds to go until curfew, Sox pitcher Paul La Palme decides to pitch to Dick Williams (yes, the same Dick Williams who managed the 1967 Red Sox to the pennant), instead of stalling. Williams promptly hits a game tying home run.

††† June 13, 1957- The Sox and Yankees hook up in perhaps the greatest "basebrawl" in history. In the 1st inning New Yorkís Art Ditmar threw a pitch at the head of the Sox Larry Doby. As the pitch rolled to the wall, Ditmar ran to cover home. Doby warned Ditmar about the pitch, then threw a left hook. The fight appeared to have racial overtones and lasted a full thirty minutes. Chicago native (and current White Sox public relations employee) "Moose" Skowron jumped on Doby which brought Walt Dropo into the fray. Dropo was at least 6-6 and a monster for his time. At various times, Whitey Ford, Casey Stengel, "Jungle" Jim Rivera and Enos "Country" Slaughter were in the middle of it. Slaughterís jersey was ripped to pieces and his hat knocked to the side of his head. After things settled down Billy Martin rushed into things and started in on Doby. Four players were ejected and fined for the melee.

††† June 27, 1958- With two out in the 9th inning, Sox pitcher Billy Pierce loses a perfect game as the Senators Ed Fitzgerald doubles down the first base line. The hit is fair by a foot. The Sox win 3-0 but Pierce never comes closer to pitching a masterpiece.

††† July 1958- Sox ace Early Wynn gets the win in the All Star Game in Baltimore.

††† December 26, 1958- In the middle of a family fight involving the Comiskeyís and the attempt to sell the Sox, Charlie Finley (yes THAT Charlie Finley) offered 500,000 dollars to buy the club. Eventually Bill Veeckís group would be legally allowed to purchase the team in March 1959.

††† April 22, 1959- The Sox loved to do the unexpected in Kansas City. It happened again on an early season road trip. The Sox were winning 8-6 in the top of the 7th when the wackiest inning perhaps in baseball history took place. The inning lasted 45 minutes, the Sox scored 11 runs on ten walks, a hit by pitcher, three errors and one lone single! They went on to win 20-6.

††† May 26, 1959- Bill Veeck was always good for a crazy stunt but this one topped the cake. Before a game against the Indians, midgets dressed up as Martians "landed" and captured Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio. One of the midgets was Eddie Gaedel. "Terms" were discussed for releasing the two Sox players when the Martian leader, Gaedel said "donít bother taking me to your leader (Veeck), Iíve already met him."

††† August 21, 1959- Itís Nellie Fox Day at Comiskey Park.

††† September 22, 1959- The White Sox clinch the American League pennant beating the Indians 4-2. Al Smith and Jim Rivera hit back to back home runs in the game. Smith also throws out former Sox star Minnie Minoso trying to score a run. A crowd estimated by the Chicago Sun Times of 125,000 were 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.

††† October 1, 1959- After 40 years the wait is over and the Sox are in the World Series facing the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Sox react in Game #1 like they are trying to win the title in a single game, burying L.A. 11-0. Ted Kluszewski slams a pair of home runs and ties a series record with five RBIís. The Sox assault Dodger starter Roger Craig early and often to give Cy Young award winner Early Wynn a lot of breathing room.

††† October 2, 1959- Game #2 of the World Series is looking like a repeat of Game #1. The Sox are leading the Dodgers 2-0 when Charlie Neal slugs a home run off Bob Shaw. As the late Al Smith drifted back to the wall in left center he got a face full of beer knocked over by a fan reaching for the home run ball. Making matters worse is that in the middle of an 8th inning Sox rally, the slowest man in baseball, Sherm Lollar was waived home with what would have been the tying run. He was out by ten feet. The Sox lost the game 4-3.

††† October 6, 1959- At the mammoth L.A. Coliseum which was the temporary home of the Dodgers, the White Sox play "small ball" in Game #5 of the World Series. They beat Sandy Koufax 1-0 to stay alive, cutting L.A.ís lead to 3-2. The only Sox run scores on a double play ground ball but it turns out to be enough. The Sox become the first team in World Series history to have three pitchers combine for a shut out. Alas the Dodgers mangle the Sox in Game #6 to win the series four games to two. The Sox havenít been back to the series since.

††† November 1959- The White Sox sweep the post season awards. Early Wynn takes home the Cy Young as best pitcher, with Nellie Fox grabbing the MVP award. Luis Aparicio and Wynn finish second and third in the voting.

††† May 1, 1960- Al Smith connects on a Jim Bunning pitch and sets off the new exploding scoreboard for the first time. But the fun was just starting for it.

††† May 30, 1960- Outfielder Jimmy Piersall, who would become a Sox announcer in the 70's and early 80's, goes on a rampage against the scoreboard and Comiskey Park. Piersall started by throwing the contents of the Cleveland dugout on to the field. Then he went into the Sox dugout grabbing a bucket of groundskeeper Gene Bossardís sand and dumped that on the field. Piersall then didnít move when a ball hit by Minoso came right at him. It went over his head for a double and adding insult to injury, the Sox thought it was a home run and set off the scoreboard! Finally Piersall took a ball and threw it at the board. All in a dayís work, although it still isnít known why he wasnít thrown out of the game.

††† 1960 season- Pitcher Bob Shaw was also something of a flake. One time Sox fans found him standing atop the catwalk overlooking Shields Avenue. Shaw was yelling at the fans saying the Sox werenít going anywhere and would probably lose that day. At the time he was waiting to get into Manager Al Lopezís office!

††† August 28, 1960- Of all the crazy games and things that have happened when the Sox played Baltimore, this one tops the list. The Sox started the day three games behind the Yankees and trailed the Oís 3-1 going into the 8th. With two out, Luis Aparicio, Nellie Fox and Roy Sievers ripped consecutive singles, scoring a run and putting the tying runs on base. Manager Al Lopez called on Ted Kluszewski to pinch hit. Big Klu drilled the pitch from Milt Pappas into the right field stands for an apparent three run homer except for one small thing. Third base umpire Ed Hurley called time! Nobody remembered seeing him do it but he refused to change his call. Both Lopez and Fox were ejected in the confrontation afterwards. The next day Hurley was quoted as saying "I wish to heck I hadnít called it, Iíd gladly take it back.." End result was the Sox lost and were now four games behind the Yankees. Kluszewski later recalled that this game was the one that broke the teams spirit.

††† April 10, 1961- And then there was "Jungle" Jim Rivera. At the home opener for the Senators, Rivera pushed aside Washington pitcher Hal Woodeschick to grab the "first pitch" thrown by President John Kennedy. After Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson signed the ball, Rivera said "Youíll have to do better then that John. This is a scribble that I can hardly read!"

††† July 1962- Sox starting pitcher Ray Hebert, who would win 20 games this season, is named as a last minute replacement for the All Star Game. Hebert gets the win as the A.L. beats the N.L. in Wrigley Field.

††† July 22, 1962- Sox outfielder Floyd Robinson gets six hits in six at bats in a game against the Red Sox.

††† July 8, July 29, August 19, 1962- Sox outfielder Charlie "Paw Paw" Maxwell liked to play on Sundays. When acquired from the Tigers it was discovered that 25 of his 70 career homers (at that point) were hit on the Sabbath. Of his ten in 1962, five came on Sunday. On July 8th, Maxwell got six hits in a game against Cleveland, on July 29th, Maxwell hit three home runs in a twin bill against the Yankees and on August 19th, Maxwell hit a grand slam and knocked in six against Detroit. All those games were on a Sunday! Strange but true!

††† April 8, 1963- Two pitchers faced off against each other in an intrasquad game that would determine who stayed in the organization. Both pitchers were 1962 "bonus babies" and under league rules the Sox could only keep one. Bruce Howard would win the game 2-1 and get a ticket to the Sox Double AA affiliate. Denny McLain (yes THAT Denny McLain) was released and signed by the Tigers the next week.

††† June 3, 1963- With the Sox in first place another "freak" injury occurred reminiscent of what happened to Dick Donovan. Sox 1st baseman Joe Cunningham broke his collarbone in Los Angeles running out a ground ball in the 5th inning. Cunningham was trying to avoid stepping on Angels 1st baseman Charlie Dees foot so he twisted and lost his balance, crashing down on the ground. The Sox decline set in quickly after that.

††† July 15, 1963- The first Major League Game ever attended by a young Mark Liptak. He picks a gem as Gary Peters throws a one hitter in beating the Orioles 4-0. Future Hall Of Fame pitcher Robin Roberts gets the start for Baltimore and gets that teamís only hit. J.C. Martin and Tommy McCraw blast two run home runs for the Sox.

††† July 29, 1963- Facing the Senators in Washington, Sox pitcher Joe Horlen takes a no hitter into the 9th inning. Only leading 1-0 and under incredible pressure, Horlen not only loses the no hitter but the game 2-1 as Chuck Hinton grounds a roller up the middle and Don Lock belts a two run homer. Horlen looked ready to cry on the post game show talking with Jack Brickhouse.

††† August 11, 1964- The Sox FINALLY win a game against the Yankees having lost eleven straight to them. Why was this so important? Simple, the Sox won 98 games this season and finished ONE GAME behind New York! Making things tougher for Sox fans is that the team closed out the season winning nine straight, unfortunately the Yankees reeled off a streak that saw them win 13 of 14 AT THE SAME TIME!

††† June 7, 1965- Sox 3rd baseman Pete Wardís appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated is derailed at literally the last second when Muhammad Ali beats Sonny Liston for the heavyweight boxing championship. Ward is sent four test copies of the SI cover that never ran as a keepsake.

††† August 1965- In the midst of another fine season, the Sox are accused of freezing baseballs so they wouldnít go as far when hit. During a series with Detroit in July, the two teams combine for 54 runs. A week later in Chicago both teams score 17 runs combined, in five games. Umpire Jim Honochick reported that when he got the baseballs they felt cold and wet.

††† April 1966- New Sox manager Eddie Stanky shows he doesnít like losing. After a loss to the Tigers, Stanky goes on a rampage for the assembled media, heaping abuse on the writers, ripping his jersey to shreds and throwing his spikes against the locker room wall. A different personality from Al Lopez donít you think?

††† August 13, 1967- All season long the Sox battle the big boys, the Tigers, Twins and Red Sox in the greatest pennant race in American League history. This game marked the beginning of the end of the dream. The Sox lost a controversial game to the Twins 3-2 when Tommy Agee was called out at 3rd base on a close play in the 9th inning. The Sox dropped out of first place for the first time in two months. Afterwards Stanky kept Vice President Hubert Humphrey waiting outside with reporters. Stanky later said "what do I need Humphrey for? Can he hit?"

††† September 10, 1967- Coming off two straight losses to the Tigers and in danger of falling out of the pennant race, Joe Horlen throws a no hitter. Almost 24,000 Sox fans see Horlen win 6 - 0. Sox 2nd baseman Wayne Causey saves the no hitter with a grab of a smash off the bat of Jerry Lumpe in the 9th inning.

††† September 27, 1967- The Sox finish the season with the two worst teams in the league Kansas City and Washington and the fans can smell that elusive World Series. However it all begins to fall apart as the Sox drop a double header to the Aís. Gary Peters and Horlen get tagged with the losses but the final embarrassment is yet to come.

††† September 29, 1967- The Sox still have a chance for the pennant before they lose 1- 0 to the Senators. The only run scored when Tommy McCraw wasnít able to catch a pop up off the bat of Washingtonís Fred Valentine. NBC-TV had erected a barrier for their cameras in case the World Series came to Comiskey Park, Valentineís pop fell into that enclosed area. On the very next pitch Valentine singled. That season marked the 17th straight that the Sox finished better then .500. Itís the third longest streak in baseball history.

Coming Next:

The Sox of the 1970's!

As always comments, questions or insults are always welcomed. Contact me at

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