The White Sox’ Ten Greatest Games
October 1, 1919: The Fix is On
On his first pitch in Game One of the 1919 World Series, White Sox starter Eddie Cicotte hit Cincinnati’s Morrie Rath square in the back. It wasn’t an errant throw but a signal; Cicotte was letting gamblers whom he and seven other members of the White Sox had been huddling with for weeks know that they were proceeding with fixing the World Series for vast sums of money, an audacious protest to the minimum wages they were forced to receive from Chicago owner Charles Comiskey.
Rath scored after getting hit—but beyond that, there were no overt signs early on that the Black Sox conspirators were laying down, as Cicotte otherwise kept the Reds in check through three innings and fellow Black Sox conspirator Happy Felsch singled in a second-inning run to tie the game. But that notion, along with Cicotte, self-destructed in the Reds’ fourth; with two outs and one on, Greasy Neale, a future football star, hit a comebacker to Cicotte—who hesitated and threw late to second, resulting in an infield hit that should have been a double play. The Reds proceeded to score five in the inning, all before Cicotte was removed. Chick Gandil, another Black Sox participant, committed a seventh-inning error that allowed an unearned run to score, but by then the Reds were already in control and on their way to an easy 9-1 triumph.
Likely intentional faux pas by the Black Sox Eight continued throughout the series, won in eight games by the Reds (it was the first of three straight years in which a best-of-nine format would be in play), and the fix—accompanied by its sensational exposure to the general public a year later—put an immediate end to the White Sox’ chronic dominance during the deadball era and caused long-term damage to the franchise.
October 12, 2005: The Strike Mechanic
For the most part, the White Sox had it easy during their 2005 championship run—but their most tenuous juncture of the postseason avoided becoming even more so thanks to a controversial moment in the ninth inning of ALCS Game Two against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Having lost the first game at home, the White Sox struggled through Game Two before their own fans and reached the bottom of the ninth tied at 1-1. Angel reliever Kelvim Escobar retired the first two Chicago batters and appeared to strike out catcher A.J. Pierzynski to send the game into extra innings. As the Angels began jogging off the field, Pierzynski looked behind him, then belatedly took off for first base, sensing that home plate umpire Doug Eddings hadn’t called the third out because the pitch had hit the ground before catcher Josh Paul could grab it in his glove, meaning Paul had to tag Pierzynski to complete the out. But Pierzynski made it to first before the Angels realized what he was up to, because they had interpreted Eddings’ strike three gesture to be a third out call; the umpire would later clarify the motion as his “strike three mechanic” at work. With everyone back on the field and the Sox still alive, Pablo Ozuna ran for Pierzynski, stole second and scored on Joe Crede’s double; because of Pierzynski’s alertness coupled with Eddings’ subtle interpretation of the rules, Chicago avoided a potential 0-2 ALCS hole and won the next three games to take the series in five.
October 14, 1906: Triumph of the Hitless Wonders
On paper, the 1906 all-Chicago World Series looked to be a mismatch of the highest order; the juggernaut Cubs, owners of an astonishing 116-36 record and a team earned run average of 1.75, taking on the White Sox—a ballclub that somehow won the American League pennant despite hitting just .230 with seven home runs as a team all season. The White Sox’ feeble lineup was not expected to make much of a dent in the Cubs’ stellar pitching, and through the first four games, they didn’t—hitting just .097—yet they amazingly earned a split in those four contests. Then the Sox’ bats finally broke out—they defeated the Cubs 8-6 in a sloppy Game Five, leading many to believe the underdogs had achieved a one-day epiphany of hitting. But the doubters were proved wrong in Game Six.
The Sox stormed out of the gate with an even bigger flurry of offense; they knocked no less than Hall-of-Fame ace Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown out of the box in the second inning after pummeling him for seven runs on eight hits; meanwhile, Sox starting pitcher Doc White—the AL ERA leader at 1.52—bent but never broke, going the distance and keeping the Cubs at bay to ice an unlikely Series conquest with an 8-3 win. George Davis and Jiggs Donahue each knocked in three runs for the White Sox, while leadoff hitter Ed Hahn—who hit .221 during the season—collected four hits.
July 12, 1979: Disco Inferno
As disco fever swept America in the late 1970s, those who never got infected hated it—and when once-and-current White Sox owner Bill Veeck decided to channel the anti-disco establishment and bring Disco Demolition Night to Comiskey Park during a twinight doubleheader against Detroit, he would soon realize that this was one promotion that would turn out to be more than he bargained for.
Anticipating a crowd of no more than 15,000, the White Sox were overwhelmed to see a sellout crowd of 50,000—with nearly that many turned away. Those who did score tickets and brought along disco albums to be piled up and exploded in between games paid only 98 cents to get in, a reference to a local rock station (97.9 on the dial) sponsoring the promotion. The White Sox soon realized they had more records than they needed and stopped taking them, leaving those who couldn’t give them up to start throwing them around the ballpark and onto the field like Frisbees. Because of this and other distractions such as firecrackers, the first game—a 4-1 win for Chicago—barely was made official as umpires considered a forfeit even then. In the intermission, the pile of records was brought out and exploded—and the raucous crowd turned riotous, invading the field and tearing the field apart. It took Chicago riot police to dispel the crowd; amazingly, only 39 people were arrested. The second game was postponed and forfeited to the visiting Tigers because of the ripped-up field. It’s far from the proudest moment in White Sox history—the Black Sox Scandal does rate worse—but it’s certainly one of the most memorable.
October 26, 2005: Eighty-Eight Years in the Making
In 2004, the Boston Red Sox made major sports news by ending their curse and capturing their first world championship in 86 years. Twelve months later, the White Sox did the Red Sox one better by snatching their first world title in 88 years, even as the achievement provoked a relative yawn outside of the Windy City.
The conquering moment came at Houston’s Minute Maid Park in Game Four, as Chicago finished off a four-game sweep of the Astros and capped an 11-1 postseason, on top of a 99-63 regular season. For seven innings, White Sox starter Freddy Garcia dueled shutout baseball with young Houston counterpart Brandon Backe—but Backe was removed to start the eighth in favor of Astro closer Brad Lidge, who immediately gave up a leadoff single to Willie Harris. A bunt moved Harris to second, a grounder to the right side moved him to third, and he then scored on a Jermaine Dye single. It would be the only run on the night; three relievers shut the Astros down over the final two innings, and they got help from behind, most memorably when shortstop Juan Uribe made a diving catch into the stands on a pop fly, allowing the South Side to experience the thrill of total victory for the first time since 1917.
July 1, 1990: The Hitless Wonders Redux
Few teams have ever been no-hit and still won, so leave it to the White Sox to make it happen. On the 80th anniversary of the opening of Comiskey Park, the Pale Hose paid ultimate tribute to the Hitless Wonder teams that began play there by scoring four runs—on no hits—off New York Yankee starter Andy Hawkins.
Hawkins was sailing with his no-no while his defense—which typically makes one or two astounding plays in the course of a no-hitter—wasn’t screwing it up. Until the eighth, that is. With the first two batters retired, Hawkins induced Sammy Sosa to bounce a ground ball to third that Mike Blowers (sarcastically referred to by the New York press as Mike Blow-Errors) bobbled, leading to a late throw to first; the official scorer was ready to give Sosa the hit but settled on an error after seeing a replay. Hawkins did himself no further favors by walking the next two batters to load the bases; then the wind took over. Robin Ventura lofted a fly to Jim Leyritz, playing only his fourth major league game in the outfield; battling a gusty wind and bright sun, Leyritz muffed the fly and all three runs scored. Ivan Calderon then hit a fly to the other side of the outfield and Jesse Barfield, who also struggled with the elements; the ball tipped off his glove for the third error of the inning, scoring another run. Hawkins completed the inning with the no-hitter intact, but he wouldn’t throw another pitch on the day; Scott Radinsky kept the Yankees scoreless in the ninth to complete an improbable 4-0 win for the White Sox. It was the most runs scored by a major league team without the benefit of a hit.
October 15, 1917: Sweet Pickle of Success
The team that would throw the World Series in 1919 played it straight and clean in 1917 against the New York Giants, being handed a gift win in the finale. God forbid if the Giants were fixing this Series—for if they did, they made it look obvious in a game-changing fourth inning that supplied the White Sox with three of the four runs they would notch on the day.
With the game scoreless, Eddie Collins led off the Chicago fourth with a ground ball to New York third baseman Heinie Zimmerman, who committed an error with a poor throw. Joe Jackson next lofted a fly ball to right fielder Dave Robertson—who muffed it. Happy Felsch then hit a sharp comebacker to pitcher Rube Benton, who caught Collins off third base and engaged in a rundown; but when the speedy Collins sprinted past catcher Bill Rariden (who raced up the line), no one was backing up at home—and Zimmerman had no option but to futilely chase Collins home, unable to catch up and tag him out. When asked afterward about the play, a frustrated Zimmerman yelled out, “What the hell was I supposed to do—throw it to (umpire Bill) Klem?” Klem was said to answer, “I was afraid he would.”
Two more unearned runs scored when Chick Gandil singled home Jackson and Felsch, giving the White Sox and starting pitcher Red Faber all the offensive ammunition they would need. Faber went the distance, scattering two runs on six hits, and the White Sox took their second championship; they wouldn’t score another for 88 years.
April 30, 1922: Charlie’s Perfecto
Charlie Robertson was one of the unlikeliest players ever to throw a perfect game; in eight seasons, he never produced a winning record and his earned run average always left his fans squinting in pain. But in just the fourth start of his major league career, he came to Detroit and dialed the majors’ only perfecto between 1908 and 1956—and the first thrown on the road in the modern era.
What made Robertson’s gem all the more startling was that the Tiger lineup he faced on the day included Ty Cobb, Bobby Veach and Henry Heilmann, all of whom complained bitterly during the game that Robertson was violating the ban of trick pitches, enacted throughout baseball just a few years earlier. Robertson struck out six batters and threw 90 pitches on the day, as the White Sox accounted for all of their offense in the second inning, headed toward a 2-0 victory.
Go-Go-Going to the World Series
Suffering Sox fans had waited 40 years since the Black Sox Scandal to reach the top of the standings and stay there, and the dream became reality on a Tuesday night at Cleveland before 54,000 fans—more than a few likely having made the 350-mile road trip from Chicago to see the clinching of the AL flag for themselves. For those who couldn’t hit the road, the game was televised back to Chicago—the first White Sox road game broadcast that season.
A pair of doubles off Cleveland rookie starter Jim Perry in the second inning broke the ice and gave the White Sox a 2-0 lead, and in the sixth it was a pair of home runs (by Al Smith and Billy Goodman) nailed off reliever Jim Grant that extended the lead. Early Wynn lasted less than six innings but picked up the win, his 21st of the year; veteran starter-turned-reliever Gerry Staley doused a major ninth-inning threat when, with one out and the bags loaded, he induced a double play ball that shortstop Luis Aparicio neatly turned to finish the 4-2 triumph and clinch the pennant. Back in Chicago, air sirens wailed in celebration—frightening non-baseball fans who, in a time of Cold War, thought Armageddon had arrived.
May 8-9, 1984: The Chicago Marathon
It was a game no one thought would ever end—one then went on so long, it took 753 pitches, 44 players, 25 innings and parts of two days to finish. But in the end, the White Sox finally prevailed over Milwaukee at Comiskey Park when, with one out in the bottom of the 25th, Harold Baines said enough and homered to end the endurance test.
The White Sox trailed 3-1 in the bottom of the ninth, but a dropped fly ball by Brewer outfielder Charlie Moore opened the door for a two-run rally to send the game into overtime. It stayed 3-3 for the next 11 innings; twice, Chicago loaded the bases but failed to deliver the knockout blow. At 1:05 a.m., the game was halted in the 17th inning, owing to the AL curfew rule; picked up the next day before the regularly scheduled game, the Brewers hit paydirt with three runs in the top of the 21st inning—only to have the White Sox fight right back, capped with Tom Paciorek’s two-run single that extended the game yet again. Ahead of Baines’ walk-off homer, Tom Seaver—making his first relief appearance in eight years as the Sox’ eighth pitcher of the game—took the mound in the 25th and eventually earned the win. Seaver would also start the regularly scheduled game that immediately followed—and pitched another 8.1 innings to notch his second victory of the day. The White Sox’ 7-6 win was the second longest game, by innings, in major league history; it was the longest, ever, in terms of elapsed time—taking eight hours and four minutes to complete.
Chicago White Sox Team History: Year-by year records, statistics and an oral history of the White Sox, decade by decade.
The White Sox' Ten Greatest Hitters: A list of the ten greatest hitters based on their productivity and efficiency.
The White Sox' Ten Greatest Pitchers: A list of the ten greatest pitchers based on their productivity and efficiency.
Have a comment, question or request? Contact us at This Great Game.
© 2017 This Great Game.