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In honor of actor Andy Garcia and his (unintentionally) hilarious reaction to Sofia (Mary Corleone) Coppola's death scene in "The Godfather, Part III."
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May 9,1976

Posted 03-15-2018 at 09:49 PM by TommyJohn
Updated 03-28-2019 at 06:20 PM by TommyJohn

May 9,1976
vs. Detroit Tigers
at Tiger Stadium

The Sox head into May with an unspectacular 5-7 record. The team opened the month on the receiving end of a 10-1 thrashing at the hands of the Tigers.

That evening began on a somber note, as the White Sox retired uniform number 2 in honor of 2nd baseman Nellie Fox, who had died of cancer the previous December 1 at the too young age of 47. Bob Elson emceed the event and Billy Pierce, Fox's best friend and roommate for 11 years, accepted on Fox's behalf.

After the game, the Sox released veteran Cleon Jones, whose attempt at a comeback ended after 12 games and a .200 batting average.

One bright spot of the new season was the continued renaissance of Wilbur Wood. Woodie was now pitching every four days rather than the two days Chuck Tanner had him doing, and was responding well. His first game in May saw Wood outduel Ken Holtzman and hold the Orioles to one run in a complete game win. He was now 3-3 with a 2.49 ERA. 1976 was shaping up as the year that Wilbur got his groove back.

The Sox took the field at Tiger Stadium on Mother's Day in a slump. They had lost three straight, including two to the Tigers, and had scored only one run. Wood, whose win against Baltimore had been the team's last victory, took the mound in an attempt to end the mini losing streak.

Wood cruised along at first, allowing only two hits through the first five innings, both singles by Ron LeFlore. Tiger starter Joe Coleman was equally effective, holding the Sox to three hits and no runs through five.

The Sox finally broke through in the 6th when Buddy Bradford hit a two run single. Wood finally had a couple of runs to work with. And then in the bottom of the 6th it happened.

Tom Veryzer and Gary Sutherland both quickly grounded out to bring up LeFlore. Wilbur knuckled one plateward and LeFlore swung. The ball rocketed right back to Wood and smashed into his left kneecap. Wood collapsed on the field and began yelling in agony. The team gathered around and attended him for a few minutes while Clay Carroll was rushed into emergency action. A stretcher was brought out but Wood refused it and walked off under his own power.

The Sox added two more runs in the 7th and the Tigers struck back with one in the 7th and one in the 9th. Carroll, who later said he "had to do it for Woodie" got Aurielo Rodriguez to fly out to end the game. The 4-2 win snapped the losing streak and went in the books as Wilbur's 4th win of the season.

The bad news was that Wood was hobbling on crutches by the time the game was over. X-rays revealed that his patella was fractured, a serious injury that would keep him out indefinitely. Bill Veeck was there to greet Wood at the airport when the pitcher arrived back in Chicago.

Paul Richards spoke for Veeck and the team when he told Bob Verdi "I wouldn't be surprised if he's out for the season. If we didn't have bad luck we wouldn't have any. I won't change the rotation for four or five days, then we'll have to manufacture a new pitcher."

The manager then offered his own take on the play in which Wood was injured, offering a colorful, down-home-in-Texas description of it.

"It was a hell of a lick" Richards said. "He went down like a gored hog."

Truly a hell of a lick for both Wood and the team.
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