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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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Spring!

Posted 07-08-2017 at 11:19 AM by TommyJohn
Updated 07-12-2017 at 12:58 PM by TommyJohn

Chuck Tanner brought a new spirit and positive attitude not felt on the south side since the Go Go Glory Days. He anointed players like Bill Melton and Walt Williams to be starters for his 1971 team. Both had struggled in 1970 (Melton with his defense, Williams with hitting) and Tanner's votes of confidence was his way of boosting both players.

Tanner was the anti-Eddie Stanky. The Brat was an old school coach, the type that would bellow in players' faces, tear them down, question theirs and their mothers' ancestries and wonder aloud if their athletic deficiencies were a result of a secret desire to have sexual relations with members of their own gender.

Tanner's approach was the opposite-a kind word of encouragement, a slap on the back, an explanation of what went wrong and a "go get 'em next time" attitude. It was refreshing, and it added a positive feeling that the 1971 Sox were going to be a team on the rise.

Tanner was in favor of a running team, and to that end the Sox announced that the lame chicken wire little league fences that had been in the outfield the past two seasons were coming down for 1971. The fences hadn't been much help, except to give a few players cheap, fielder-tipped home runs. They would not be missed.

Tanner also brought in his own brain trust, including a new pitching coach. Sox organization lifer Hugh Mulcahy was reassigned to the minor leagues and was replaced with former Braves 1950s ace Johnny Sain.

In January, the Sox introduced something else new-RED! uniforms. The team announced that they were ditching the royal blue Red Sox-Tiger ripoffs in favor of bright red pinstriped home uniforms. The road ones would be powder blue with red lettering.

"Red makes you look faster" Stu Holcomb explained. The team may have also been trying to emulate popular red-wearing teams like the Reds and Cardinals. Also, the red could brighten up the ballpark and sweep away the feeling of gloom that had engulfed the south side yard for the past three years.

The new look White Sox looked good in spring, winning the Grapefruit League title. Tanner played every game to win in order to further boost his players.

The last game on April 4 against the Cubs in Arizona was the final of a three game set with the North Siders. Tom Bradley looked good, shutting out the Cubs over six innings while the Sox took a 4-0 lead and new broadcaster Harry Caray called the game, bantered with the fans and checked out the women in the stands.

Reliever Steve Kealey blew the lead ("I could hit this guy!" Harry cackled during a commercial break) and the Sox lost 5-4 in 12 innings to close out the spring. Bad luck also struck when Joel Horlen, in the game as a pinch-runner, injured his knee sliding into second base. He had to be carried off the field and would be gone for at least six weeks, leaving a hole in the Sox rotation.

Still, the Tribune's George Langford liked what he saw and picked the new and improved White Sox to finish 3rd in the AL West.
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