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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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July 3,1977

Posted 05-06-2018 at 06:44 PM by TommyJohn
Updated 05-03-2019 at 06:48 AM by TommyJohn

July 3,1977
vs. Minnesota Twins
at Comiskey Park

The White Sox came out for a Sunday doubleheader hoping to put a little distance between themselves and the Twins, who were hoping to take two and regain the top spot. A crowd of 33,898 turned out and was so raucous and loud that the old south side ballyard was practically shaken to the rafters. In the process the delirious fans brought about the one thing that everybody remembers most about the South Side Hitmen-the curtain call.

Game 1 saw Wilbur Wood, who was still working hard at his comeback, take the mound to face off against the strong Twins lineup. He started out well, allowing just one hit in the first two innings before his teammates gave him run support.

The Sox exploded in the 2nd for 5 runs, which kicked off when they loaded the bases with one out. Brian Downing drew a walk to score one run, Alan Bannister hit a sac fly, Jorge Orta and Richie Zisk followed with RBI singles, the last of which put men on 1st and 3rd.

That finished starter Geoff Zahn, who was relieved with Ron Schueler, who promptly blew a wild pitch past Lamar Johnson to score the fifth run of the inning.

Wood was masterful after that, allowing only two more hits and one walk the rest of the way. The Sox added one more run in the 8th, but it was hardly needed. Wilbur pitched as if he had applied a wood repellant to the ball, a la Ray Milland in "It Happens Every Spring." The game closed with Woodie striking out pinch-hitter Lyman Bostock to seal his first complete game shutout in over a year.

The crowd roared after the final out and gave Wood a sustained standing ovation. It continued as the Sox went to the dugout. Finally Wood emerged and tipped his hat to them. The fans roared their approval.

The cap tip was nothing new. Just one week earlier in the Twins-Sox series in Minnesota Rod Carew had doffed his helmet to ecstatic Twins fans who cheered him after he raised his average above the .400 mark. And a player occasionally tipped his hat to an appreciative crowd after some accomplishment. Roger Maris famously had to be shoved out of the Yankee dugout to acknowledge a Yankee Stadium crowd after hitting his 61st home run of 1961. Ted Williams just as famously refused to come out to tip his cap to a Fenway crowd after homering in his final at-bat in 1960. Sox fans, in a frenzy over their 1st place club and Wood's acknowledgement of their cheers, took it to a whole new level.

The Sox got busy in game 2 right away. In the 1st inning Jorge Orta singled and Richie Zisk doubled him in. Lamar Johnson smacked a triple to score Zisk and Jim Spencer topped it off by crushing a two run homer to give the Sox a 4-0 lead.

Once again the crowd rose as one and gave Spencer a sustained standing ovation. It went on so long that Spencer finally had to come out of the dugout to tip his hat, much to the crowd's delight.

The fun continued in the 4th after the Twins narrowed the lead to 4-2. Jack Brohamer followed a Ralph Garr double with an RBI single. Jim Essian then came up and went deep for a two run homer. Again the crowd stood and cheered, refusing to stop until Essian came out and acknowledged them, which he did. Alan Bannister then stepped to the plate and hit a shot that landed in the stands for his second home run of the year. For the third time the crowd gave the standing ovation treatment and Bannister waved his hat.

The Twins would close the gap, but the Sox poured on more runs to make it 10-7 going into the 9th. Lerrin LaGrow got one out, but gave up a home run to make it 10-8. Bostock singled and Mike Cubbage grounded out to bring up the always dangerous Larry Hisle, who represented the tying run. LaGrow got two strikes on him. The crowd rose and began a loud, frenzied chant of "we're number 1!" La Grow later said that after hearing the volume of the crowd, he knew it was time to bear down. He did, and blew strike three past Hisle.

The crowd was so loud and into it during and at the end of the game that even Bill Jauss couldn't help himself.

"Talk about fireworks!" He giddily began his game story in the Tribune. "Talk about screaming and hollering in a holiday, carnival, Fourth of July or Mardi Gras fashion!"

Sox players were equally blown away, with Zisk calling it a "playoff atmosphere" and Jim Spencer saying the weekend gave him "cold chills."

On July 3, 1976 the 5th place Sox dropped to 34-39 after being shutout by Texas in the first morning game ever played in Comiskey Park; a contest witnessed by a bored, sleepy crowd of 10,099. Now, exactly one year later, they stood alone in 1st place by 3 games with a record of 44-32 after completing a stunning four game sweep of the best team in the division; a series witnessed by a total of 104,878 screaming, hysterical fans.


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