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Chicago White Sox

1901-


While the histories of the AL's oldest franchises contain most of baseball's greatest moments, the saga of the Chicago White Sox includes some of the game's gloomiest and goofiest. From the infamous Black Sox of 1919 to Bill Veeck's three-ring circus of the 1950s, the White Sox have always been on the fringes of the American League's proud tradition.
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» 1959: Team Scores 11 Runs in One Inning on One Hit

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» Photo: Minnie Minoso from Black Baseball in Chicago

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» 1968: The "Chilwaukee White Sox"
» Baseball, Chicago Style: A Tale of Two Teams, One City by Jerome Holtzman and George Vass

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» Shoeless Joe Jackson's Savannah Days and the Black Sox Scandal by Timothy Daiss
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A black cloud has hung over the White Sox franchise ever since eight Chicago players conspired to throw the 1919 World Series. Since then, Chicago has only once reached the World Series, making them the least successful franchise of the sixteen original clubs.

White Sox teams have been perennially known as the "Hitless Wonders"; not a single outfielder made it to the Hall of Fame during the twentieth century. Unlike modern stars Frank Thomas, Bill Melton, Harold Baines, Greg Luzinski, and Carlton Fisk, most of the White Sox's all-time greats were contact hitters, such as Nellie Fox, Eddie Collins, Luis Aparicio and Luke Appling - not surprising, considering the deep dimensions of the original Comiskey Park. But the South Side's stadium treated pitchers well, its spaciousness enjoyed by hurlers Ted Lyons, Red Faber, Billy Pierce, knuckleballer Wilbur Wood, Hoyt Wilhelm, and Early Wynn.

Even though the White Sox were never consistent winners, they did manage to keep a fair percentage of their players around for their most of their careers. Ed Walsh, the last 40-game winner in the majors, spent 18 of his 19 seasons in Chicago, and honest catcher Ray Schalk 17 of 18 years.

In many ways, it's been the owners (first Charles Comiskey, later Bill Veeck, and now Jerry Reinsdorf) -- and the late but venerable Comiskey Park -- that have proved to be the most enduring White Sox personalities.

Hitless Wonders

The White Sox were born in the winter of 1893-94 in Sioux City, Iowa. Charter members of Ban Johnson's Western League, the club was owned by just-retired first baseman and manager Charles Comiskey. After a brief shift to St. Louis, the Chicago-born Comiskey wrangled a concession from the Chicago Cubs to bring his team to the South Side of his hometown in 1900. To spite his North Side National League rivals, Comiskey's team adopted the Cubs' first nickname - the White Stockings - and began play at Southside Park, a former cricket field.

The club's first manager was also its leading pitcher, Clark Griffith, who won 24 games in 1901. After Griffith (the future owner of the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins) left the club at Ban Johnson's request in 1903 to take the reins of the new American League franchise in New York, Comiskey named another of his players, Nixey Callahan, as his replacement. Callahan, a jack-of-all-trades outfielder/pitcher who had hurled the first no-hitter in franchise history in 1902, was often in Comiskey's doghouse for his late-night drinking and general disregard for rules. After a near-last-place finish in 1903, Callahan yielded in 1904 to Fielder Jones, who led the team to its first pennant in 1906.

The 1906 AL champs, who faced their crosstown rivals in the first and only All-Chicago World Series, were built around the stingiest pitching staff in the league. The pitching-rich Sox featured two twenty-game winners -- Frank Owen (22-13, 2.33) and Nick Altrock (20-13, 2.06) - and lefty Doc White (18-6, 1.52) who had the lowest ERA in the American League. Hall-of-Famer Ed Walsh (17-13, 1.88) rounded out the rotation in his first full season as a starter, using his tough spitball successfully for the first time. At one point in August the club had reeled off 19 straight wins.

Offensively, the team was a complete dud. "The Hitless Wonders" (the original team to inspire the phrase) hit only .230, and no regular hit higher than .279 or drove in more than 80 runs. But Jones' team mastered the dead-ball style of manufacturing runs by any means necessary. Despite finishing last in homers and slugging average, the Sox managed to finish third in runs scored.

The "Cubs" (actually, not yet the Cubs; the nickname would not be adopted until 1907) were favored heavily in the Series. Setting all-time records by winning 116 of their 152 games (a percentage of .763) they had finished twenty games ahead of their closest competitor, John McGraw's New York Giants.

The North Siders found little difficulty in silencing the traditionally mute White Sox bats, holding the Sox to a .198 batting average. But they couldn't do much about the White Sox pitching, which itself held the Cubs to a .196 average. True to form, the Sox got only nine hits in their first three games, but managed to win two. They capitalized on key fielding mistakes to win a 2-1 first-game squeaker in freezing temperatures and light snow. An Ed Reulbach one-hitter in the second game tied the Series, but Walsh delivered a gem of his own in the third with a 12-strikeout shutout as the Sox won 3-0.

Not to be outdone, "Three Fingers" Brown avenged his Game One loss with a two-hitter to even the Series in the fourth game, but the Sox bats came alive in the last two games, sealing the Series upset. Reulbach lasted only two innings in Game Five as the Cubs gave up twelve hits (four of them doubles by Frank Isbell) in a 8-6 loss, and Brown couldn't get out of the second inning in Game Six. By the third inning the White Sox had a 7-1 lead, and six innings later had won the Series with a 8-3 victory.

In the clubhouse euphoria, the penurious Comiskey made a curious gesture. He gave manager Jones a $15,000 check and told him to split it up among the players. The White Sox soon discovered the method to Comiskey's seeming fiscal madness: the money also represented raises the team was due for 1907. In the wake of this revelation, many players refused to report to spring training, and it wasn't until Jones himself was granted a raise that the team came to camp. The deception, however, was an omen of Comiskey fiscal shenanigans to come that would sow the seeds for scandal.

Black Sox

The Sox left the ranks of the AL's elite over the next decade, yielding to Ty Cobb's Tigers, Tris Speaker's Red Sox and Connie Mack's A's. But while the team faded, Ed Walsh was becoming one of the league's dominant pitchers. In 1908, he enjoyed possibly the greatest season in baseball history, going 40-12 with a 1.42 ERA, 11 shutouts and 269 strikeouts, leading the league in every pitching category -- including saves, with six -- except ERA. Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1946, his 1.82 career ERA (admittedly, enabled by the dead-ball era) still stands as the all-time low.

In 1910, Comiskey unveiled a new South Side stadium, soon to be dubbed Comiskey Park. The White Sox' reliance on pitching influenced the planning of their new home; its pitcher-friendliness was due partly to Walsh, who counseled the architects during the park's design. Its cavernous nature was ideal for a dead-ball era team, especially one not known for its offense, and its impact on the Sox style of play was evident in later years.

After building a stadium in 1910, Comiskey started to rebuild his team in 1912. The White Sox had finished 34 1/2 games out of the running in Comiskey Park's inaugural season, and 24 games behind the Philadelphia A's in 1911. He rehired Nixey Callahan as manager and bought pitcher Eddie Cicotte from Boston; moves which had neligible results on the field. After the team again slumped to sixth place in 1914, he spent $50,000 to get future Hall of Fame second baseman Eddie Collins from Philadelphia. In August 1915, Comiskey invested $31,500 and three worthless players to acquire Joe Jackson from Cleveland.

Collins and Jackson were key components of the Sox's revival on the field, but both would cause trouble for Comiskey in other ways. When Collins agreed to come to Chicago, it was because the normally tight-fisted Comiskey had agreed to a lucrative guaranteed contract under which Collins earned twice as much as any other Sox regular. The college-educated and stand-offish Collins already was disliked, but jealousy over his salary created even more animosity. Jackson would play a key role in the scandal of 1919.

His coffers bulging from Comiskey Park's burgeoning attendance (the White Sox drew more fans than any team in the country) Comiskey continued to spend cash to build his team, meanwhile angering his lowly-paid players by stingily requiring them to do their own laundry. During the war, in spite of raids by the short-lived Federal League, his scouts signed key players such as outfielder Happy Felsch, third baseman Buck Weaver, catcher Ray Schalk, shortstop Swede Risberg, and pitcher Claude "Lefty" Williams.

The last piece of the puzzle was former Sox rookie Chick Gandil, who was bought from Washington just prior to the 1917 season. Even though Gandil would hit well as the team's everyday first baseman, acquiring him might have been Comiskey's biggest blunder; Gandil was the ringleader of the Black Sox scandal.

The 1917 team, under the guidance of manager Pants Rowland, was and remains the most successful in franchise history, the only White Sox team to win 100 games. Cicotte led the league in wins (28) and ERA (1.53), but the hitters barely resembled the "Hitless Wonders" of eleven years earlier. Felsch and Jackson paced an offense that topped the league in runs scored. In the World Series, Eddie Collins hit .409 to lead the Sox over the Giants in six; the enduring image from the final game was the speedy Collins beating lumbering Giant third baseman Heinie Zimmerman in a race to an unguarded home plate for what turned out to be the winning run.

The war robbed the Sox of many of its stars for all or parts of the 1918 season, and the team flopped into sixth place. But everyone was back in 1919; Ray Schalk behind the plate, Eddie Collins at second, Buck Weaver the third baseman, and an outfield of Nemo Leibold, Happy Felsch, and Joe Jackson. Under new manager Kid Gleason, the Sox took first place on July 9 and never looked back, edging out the Cleveland Indians in a close pennant race to finish 88-52 in the shortened 140-game season.

His team set to face Cincinnati in the World Series, Gleason boasted, "I don't know where [the Sox] can be beaten." His answer: the Ansonia Hotel in New York, where eight players - Jackson, Weaver, Felsch, Gandil, Risberg, Williams, and Cicotte -- had conspired with gamblers in mid-September to throw the best-of-nine Series. After the Sox lost the first two games by a 13-3 margin, Dickey Kerr (who was not in on the fix) shut out the Reds in the third game for the first of his two Series wins. Cincinnati then took a 4-1 series lead with two consecutive three-hit shutouts. Jimmy Ring won the fourth by a 2-0 margin, while Hod Eller hurled a 5-0 gem in the fifth game. Chicago came back to win the next two (Kerr's second victory of the Series sealed a 5-4 Game Six) but a 10-5 Game Eight won it for the Reds.

Even Comiskey felt something was wrong with his team's loss. So did several objective bystanders, including several sports writers and former Giant pitcher Christy Mathewson. After rampant rumors during the 1920 season, the truth came out in the heat of the pennant race. Comiskey immediately suspended the eight indefinitely, even though his team held a slim half-game lead in the pennant race, which was eventually won by the Indians.

While ultimately unforgivable, the fix was understandable given the tenor of the times, the Sox' anger at their cheap boss, and the accessibility of gamblers to players of that era. In many ways, the most surprising thing about the Black Sox scandal is that it didn't happen sooner or more often.

What's little remembered is that the disgraced team was together for almost the entire 1920 season. The team boasted four 20-game winners: Faber had 23 wins, the first of three straight 20-win seasons, Williams won 22, and Cicotte and Kerr each won 21. That feat would only be matched once, by the Baltimore Orioles over fifty years later.

The eight were exonerated of criminal conspiracy charges on August 2, 1921, in a curious Cook County trial. But the next day, recently-appointed baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis banished them forever. The ordeal left Comiskey a broken man.

The Comiskey Curse

Gleason left after the 1923 season and was followed by a series of short-term managers including Collins and Schalk. In 1925, Ted Lyons succeeded Faber as the ace of the staff; and led the league in wins in 1925 and 1927. Comiskey embarked on a series of wild trades in an attempt to rebuild his dispirited club. But most of the real activity took place off the field.

Untainted rookie Kerr got dragged down by the scandal when he pitched in a semi-pro game against some expelled Black Sox and, as a result, found himself tossed out as well by Landis. Outfielder Johnny Mostil attempted suicide in the wake of an affair with Faber's wife. Infielder Bill Cissell took to the bottle when he was unable to fulfill his potential, and ended up haunting Comiskey Park until dying of malnutrition.

Comiskey sank deeper and deeper into depression. "The Old Roman" died heartbroken October 26, 1931, and the club was taken over by his son, Lou. The younger Comiskey, upon assuming control of the club, took advantage of Connie Mack's Depression-era fire sale and bought slugging outfielders Al Simmons and Mule Haas, and most notably, second baseman Jimmy Dykes. In 1934, Dykes took over as manager and managed for a franchise-high 12 years. In 1931, shortstop Luke Appling began his remarkable 20-year career in which he won two batting titles, including a franchise-record .388 in 1936. But the most important event at Comiskey Park took place July 6, 1933 when the city hosted the inaugural All-Star Game.

Even though some stability was achieved on the field, there was still turmoil that was attributed to a "Comiskey Curse." After two 15-win seasons, promising star pitcher Monty Stratton shot himself in the foot in the 1938 off-season, ending his career. On April 16, 1940, the White Sox were the victim of the only Opening Day no-hitter, which was thrown by Cleveland's Bob Feller. Three months later, Lou Comiskey died. Months of legal wrangling followed until the family regained control of the club.

Go-Go Sox

The White Sox teams under Dykes at the 1930s were always competitive, always finishing slightly below or slightly above .500. But Comiskey's death, along with the passing of Billy Webb (who had built the White Sox minor-league system) hurt the team's development. By the end of World War II, Dykes had been replaced by Ted Lyons in a contract dispute. The team lost 101 games under Lyons in 1948. Embarrassed that the team had become the butt of jokes around the league for its complete disorganization, the Comiskey family brought in Frank "Trader" Lane to put the club's house in order.

As usual, Lane traded. And traded. And traded -- more than 100 deals in the seven years he spent in Chicago. In late 1948, "Frantic Frankie" got young pitcher Billy Pierce from Detroit for catcher Aaron Robinson; Pierce became the club's third consecutive franchise pitcher, succeeding Lyons. He led the league in ERA in 1955 and in wins two seasons later, his second-straight 20-win season. In October 1949, Lane acquired second baseman Nellie Fox from the A's for another catcher, Joe Tipton; Fox would lead the AL in hits four times during his 14 seasons in Chicago. In April 1951, Lane pulled a triangle deal with the Indians and the A's for speedy outfielder Minnie Minoso. In November 1951, he caught catcher Sherm Lollar in an eight-player trade with the Browns that included outfielder Jim Rivera. The following July, Lane got the wacky "Jungle" Jim back. Lane made four deals in twelve months between October 1951 and October 1952 involving shortstop Willie Miranda. In 1956, Luis Aparicio finally filled the gap at short left by Appling's 1950 retirement.

This team would form the core of the Go-Go White Sox, a team not unlike the Hitless Wonders of half a century before in their reliance on scratching out runs the old fashioned way. For 11 straight seasons -- 1951-61 -- the White Sox led the league in steals. By today's standards, the totals were not very high -- only twice did they swipe more than 100 as a team -- but in the power-heavy '50s, the Sox' use of the stolen base was an unusual tactic.

The team steadily improved, finishing third five straight years, then second for two more, always blocked by the powerful Yankee and Cleveland teams of the era.

The final pieces of the puzzle were added in the late 1950s. In 1957, Indian manager Al Lopez took over the managerial job, and in the off-season, veteran Early Wynn joined the pitching staff in a trade with Cleveland for Minoso.

While the club improved steadily on the field, there were continual ownership battles off the field. When Lou Comiskey died, his will stipulated that his son Chuck (Charles III) assume ownership -- when he was 35. He was still a schoolboy when his father died, so his mother and sisters ran the club in the interim. But family arguments over who was in charge kept landing in court. Finally, on March 5, 1959, long-time suitor Bill Veeck bought a controlling interest in the team.

Veeck's timing was perfect. Lopez and the Go-Go Sox finally pierced Yankee invincibility to win the AL pennant. Lopez became the only AL manager to beat the Yankees between 1949 and 1964; he'd also managed the 1954 AL champion Indians. Aparicio led the league in steals (56), Wynn in wins (22, good enough for the Cy Young) and Fox was named AL MVP.

Like their 1906 predecessors, the Sox finished with the third worst team batting average and were last in the league in home runs, but led the league in ERA. Unlike 1906, however, there would be no World Series upset. The Sox ran into the Dodgers, who like Chicago had a fine pitching staff and baserunning ability but could also hit. Los Angeles won the Series in six games.

Veeck and Veeck Again

If there were such a thing as P.T. Barnum University, Bill Veeck would have graduated with honors. The peg-legged impresario had previously owned the Indians and then the Browns and once brought a midget named Eddie Gaedel up to bat to spur attendance. By bringing his act to Chicago, he blew out the stale air that had polluted Comiskey Park for 50 years. His first stay in Chicago, however, didn't last long.

In one game, Veeck put on a parade of midgets led by the former Brown, Gaedel. He held an Al Smith Night to honor his slumping outfielder; anyone named Smith got into the park for free. In the 1959-60 off season, he installed a $350,000 exploding scoreboard that produced fireworks after Sox homers. In 1960, the Sox became the first team to have the players' names on their uniforms. Veeck's promotional magic worked. In the pennant-winning season, the Sox drew a record 1.4 million fans; the following year, a new record 1.6 million fans poured into Comiskey.

But off the field, Veeck made a series of uncharacteristically bad trades. He reacquired an aging but popular Minoso from Cleveland for a young first baseman named Norm Cash. He traded away Johnny Callison in one deal, then future Twin stalwarts, catcher Earl Battey and Don Mincher.

By the end of 1961, Veeck was in poor health. The previous June he had the rest of his already truncated left leg amputated, and doctors advised him to give up the club. He sold out to Arthur Allyn Jr. and the Sox became a subsidiary of the Artnell conglomerate. Chuck Comiskey sold his minority stake, leaving the club without a Comiskey at the top for the first time in the club's history.

The White Sox, in the meantime, were consistent AL runners up, thanks mainly to its pitchers; Gary Peters, Tommy John, with Hoyt Wilhelm coming out of the bullpen. The Sox pop-gun offense was balanced, filled out with 15-homer/70-RBI-type hitters such as shortstop Ron Hansen, third baseman Pete Ward, and outfielder Floyd Robinson. In 1965, every Sox regular hit at least 10 homers, and drove in at least 42 runs; the leader in both categories was ex-Yankee slugger Moose Skowron, who hit 18 homers and drove in 78 in his final productive season.

In 1966, the White Sox finished fourth under manager Eddie Stanky; in 1968, they took part in a legendary pennant race between the Tigers, Red Sox, and Twins. Although no regular hit over .241 for the season, the Sox stayed in the chase until the last week of the season. Tied with Minnesota for the AL lead as late as September 6, the team slumped to fourth and then fought back to within a half-game by September 18. Despite their best efforts, the White Sox dropped a key doubleheader to the Senators (in which their two aces, Peters and Horlen, were beaten by Chuck Dobson and Catfish Hunter) -- then eliminated September 29, with two games to go. It was a devastating loss for a team that had led from early May through mid-August.

In the executive suite, Allyn wanted out -- declining attendance and revenues in the wake of neighborhood racial tensions were no way to make money. In 1968, the team played 10 games in Milwaukee's County Stadium, floating the idea of selling the team to local car dealer Bud Selig and moving the club. When that deal fell through, Allyn tried to sell the club to Dallas millionaire Lamar Hunt. In 1969, Allyn finally sold his shares to his younger brother John.

All the backroom shenanigans didn't help the club. After the 1968 season, volatile Eddie Stanky ended a short and stormy stint as manager. A plethora of managers finally made way for Chuck Tanner by the end of the 1970 season, but not before the club suffered its worst season ever, losing 106 games. The best thing about the 1970 season was a new voice in the broadcast booth -- Harry Caray.

With a new administration installed both upstairs and in the dugout, the White Sox improved by 23 games in 1971. For the second straight season, third baseman Bill Melton hit 33 homers to lead the league, and knuckleballer Wilbur Wood turned in the first of four-straight 20-win seasons.

Adding to the power infusion was sullen Dick "Don't Call Me Richie" Allen, acquired in an off-season trade, then signed to what was the most lucrative contract in Chicago sports history. Allen paid off immediately, leading the AL in homers (37), RBI (113), and slugging average (.603), batting .308 and winning the MVP. The team finished second, its highest standing for the next dozen years.

But front office machinations continued to dominate the news. The team wasn't drawing and was forced to get rid of high-paid talent, including Allen after once again leading the AL in homers in 1974. Tanner was constantly having run-ins with the owners and various GMs over their Comiskey-like penury. In 1975, after trying to unload the team to several prospective suitors, Allyn sold the club -- to Bill Veeck.

Veeck picked up where he left off. He held ethnic nights, brought in belly dancers, invited witches to cast spells, dressed his team in shorts, and, on July 12, 1979, held a Disco Demolition Night that resulted in several fires and a near riot. In 1977, the Sox drew another record 1.66 million fans.

Off the field, Veeck's timing couldn't have been worse. He already was operating the club on a shoestring as baseball moved into its free agent era. Without adequate funding, he lost ace relievers Terry Forster and Goose Gossage to wealthier teams.

Economics and the repercussions from Disco Demolition night finally forced Veeck to once again sell the club, this time to local businessmen Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn, in August 1980. But before he left, he signed up Tony LaRussa as the club's new manager.

Money and Power

Unlike Veeck, Reinsdorf and Einhorn had the resources to not only keep players, but to go out and sign more. First to change Sox was the AL's leading catcher, Boston's Carlton Fisk, who actually would play longer in White Sox than in Red. A few weeks later, the new owners bought husky bomber Greg Luzinski from the Phillies. These two sluggers joined rookie Harold Baines, along with home grown pitchers Rich Dotson, Britt Burns, and LaMarr Hoyt, and, in 1983 Floyd Bannister, picked up in a trade with Seattle. Another homegrown hitter, Ron Kittle, ended up the league's Rookie of the Year in 1983.

Already leading the Western Division in mid-season, the club went on a 45-16 tear to finish the '83 season, with Dotson winning his last 10 decisions on his way to a 22-win season. Hoyt won 13 straight starts on his was to a 24-win season and the Cy Young award. For once, a championship White Sox team had some punch; four players -- Baines, Fisk, Kittle and Luzinski -- each hit more than 25 homers, the team finished first in the division in homers and led the league in runs scored. But the team hit a paltry .211 in the ALCS loss to Baltimore. Only Kittle among the team's four big bats managed to hit above .200.

The following season, controversial hitting guru Charlie Lau died of cancer. The team was decimated by injuries and fell to fifth. At the end of the season, Hoyt was shipped off to San Diego in return for four players, including shortstop Ozzie Guillen.

But LaRussa complained that the front office was scared to make trades to revitalize the team, so former broadcaster and player Hawk Harrelson was brought in as GM. He and LaRussa didn't get along, so in mid-1986, LaRussa was gone, as was promising rookie Bobby Bonilla in a trade with the Pirates. To attract fans to Comiskey, fading stars were brought in, first ex-Met Tom Seaver, who won his 300th game pitching for the Sox, then Steve Carlton. Jim Fregosi took over as manager, Larry Himes as GM.

Reinsdorf and Einhorn soon realized that the Cubs, for years more popular around the Windy City, now had deeper pockets. In 1980, the Cubs also changed hands, bought from the Wrigley family by the The Tribune Company, a powerful media chain that controlled the Chicago Tribune. Reinsdorf's and Einhorn's solution: a new ballpark. The two owners' proposal was essentially blackmail intended to coerce the state of Illinois into footing the bill for the White Sox proposed new headquarters; unless they got their stadium, the White Sox were going to move to St. Petersburg. In anticipation, the Florida city began building the Suncoast Dome, a domed stadium that would wait a decade for a major league tenant.

Illinois governor Jim Thompson didn't want to lose the Sox on his watch, so in a flurry of legislative activity, a bill was passed at literally the 12th hour to fund the building of a new stadium.

Meanwhile, Himes was proving to be just as tentative and penny-pinching as his predecessors. But while the White Sox finished low in the standings, it stood high in the amateur draft, allowing Himes to pick up future star pitchers Bobby Thigpen, Alex Fernandez and Jack McDowell, third baseman Robin Ventura, and a former football player turned first baseman named Frank Thomas. Against Reinsdorf's wishes, Himes did make one big trade in mid-1989, sending the popular but gimpy Baines to Texas and acquiring Sammy Sosa and pitcher Wilson Alvarez. When Baines visited Chicago as a visitor the following season, Reinsdorf retired his #3 uniform.

New Comiskey

Jeff Torborg led the new Sox team to consecutive second place finishes in 1990-91, thanks mainly to reliever Thigpen who set a major league record with 57 saves in 1990.

In 1991, the team moved into its gleaming new palace, the New Comiskey Park, situated directly across the street from the Old Roman's ancient showplace. Sensitivity didn't rank high with Reinsdorf, however; the demolition of the historic old park took place during the 1991 season. Fans filing into the new park were forced to watch the old one slowly decompose under a wrecker's ball.

Soon Himes and Torborg were gone, replaced by Ron Schueler and Gene Lamont. Their timing was excellent -- Frank Thomas was becoming the league's most dangerous all-around hitter and the White Sox' first true power franchise player. The former football player led the team to back-to-back titles in 1993-94. In 1993, the Sox won the Western Division championship with Thomas clouting a franchise record 41 homers, Jack McDowell winning 22 and the Cy Young award, and Lamont winning the Manager of the Year trophy, but the Sox lost to Toronto in the ALCS. In the strike-shortened 1994 season, Thomas once again had a great all-around season (.353 BA, 38 HR, 101 RBI) and the Sox won the new Central Division title. But the strike removed the chance of the Sox returning to the World Series.

The emergence of the Indians as a powerhouse, and the sudden loss of McDowell as a free agent to the Yankees, doomed the Sox and Lamont, who left in mid-1995 in favor of Terry Bevington. Thomas continued to threaten for the Triple Crown in the next two seasons, both 40 HR, 100-plus RBI years, but the club lost ace Alex Fernandez to free agency and the club finished far behind the powerful Indians two years in a row.

After the 1996 campaign, Reinsdorf once again opened his pocketbook and signed troubled Indian slugger Albert Belle to the richest contract in major league history. Speedy rookie Ray Durham took over at second base, and Alvarez established himself as the ace of the staff, backed up by reliever Roberto Hernandez. But slugger Ventura broke his leg in a spring training game in early 1997, leaving power production in the hands of Albert Belle. When Belle got off to a slow start, and so did Chicago.

The team, however, was only three-and-a-half games behind Central-leading Cleveland at the end of July, when Ventura returned to the lineup. But Reinsdorf suddenly pronounced that anyone thinking that the White Sox would catch Cleveland was "crazy." "We aren't going to catch Cleveland," opined the boss, stunning baseball and the city when he traded away Alvarez, Hernandez, and starter Danny Darwin to the San Francisco Giants for six minor leaguers. At the end of the season, starter Doug Drabek opted out of Chicago as well.

Reinsdorf's real rationale: all would be free agents. Reinsdorf had no intention of resigning them, and so traded them to at least receive some value in return. The Giants ended up winning the NL West as a result, and the Sox finished six games out. But Thomas became the first White Sox player to win the batting crown since Luke Appling 53 years earlier, hitting .347, smacking 35 homers and driving in 125. More significantly, Thomas became only the fourth player in major league history to post seven straight .300-plus, 20-plus HR, 100-plus RBI seasons; the others to accomplish the rare feat are Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Henry Aaron. After the 1997 season, the unpopular Bevington was finally let go, and former player Jerry Manuel was given the job. (SW)
FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY
» April 21, 1900: The American League entry in Chicago opens with the Chicago White Stockings losing to the Milwaukee Brewers, 5-4. Chicago will win tomorrow, 5-3, behind the pitching of Roger Denzer.

» August 19, 1900: Milwaukee's Rube Waddell and Chicago White Sox hurler Roy Patterson go 17 innings before Rube wins, 2–1 in the first game of a twinbill. Three days earlier, the two squared off for 12 innings with Waddell winning, 3–2. When Connie Mack offers Rube a few days off to go fishing if he'll pitch the nitecap, Rube allows just one hit and wins in five innings, 1–0.

» September 12, 1900: The Chicago White Stockings roll by Cleveland, 12-4, to clinch the AL's first pennant.

» January 28, 1901: The American League formally organizes: the Baltimore Orioles, Philadelphia Athletics, and Boston Somersets are admitted to join the Washington Nationals, Cleveland Blues, Detroit Tigers, Milwaukee Brewers, and Chicago White Stockings. Three of the original clubs—Indianapolis, Minneapolis, and Buffalo—are dropped. League power aggregates in Ban Johnson as trustee for all ballpark leases and majority stockholdings, and with authority to buy out refractory franchises. Player limit is 14 per team, and the schedule will be 140 games. AL contracts give the Players Protective Association what it asked for, with 5-year limits on the rights to player services.

» March 2, 1901: Jimmy Collins, Connie Mack's choice for the all-time best third baseman, leaves the Boston National League club to manage the American League's new Boston Somersets. The Beaneaters also lose OF Hugh Duffy, who will manage Milwaukee (AL), and C Billy Sullivan, who signs with the Chicago White Stockings. More than half the AL rosters—a total of 185—will be filled by NL players.

» October 1, 1903: In the first City Series between the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Nationals, Jack Taylor shuts out the Sox, 11–0, on three hits at the West Side Grounds. The Colts win the next two games, but Taylor will lose his next three starts and the series will end tied at seven apiece on October 15. Sox owner Charles Comiskey is willing to play it out but the Colts Jim Hart is not (according to historian Benton Stark). Hart is convinced that Taylor lost his games deliberately for money and will trade the star in two months.

» August 2, 1904: Pitcher Frank Owen of the Chicago White Sox steals home against the Nats in the 3rd inn of a 5–1 win.

» September 26, 1905: Chicago White Sox P Ed Walsh hurls two complete-game victories over Boston, winning by scores of 10-5 and 3-1. When Doc White leaves the first game without retiring a batter in the first inning, Walsh comes in without warming up. He gives up five runs in the first, then blanks Boston the rest of the way.

» August 21, 1908: Nationals catcher Gabby Street stands at the base of the Washington Monument and catches the 13th ball dropped from the top, 555 feet up, duplicating the feat performed by Pop Schriver of the Chicago Colts on August 24, 1894. Billy Sullivan of the Chicago White Sox will repeat the catch on August 24, 1910. Street gets a $500 prize for his morning's efforts, then spends the afternoon behind the plate catching Walter Johnson's 3-1 win over Detroit.

» September 29, 1908: Chicago White Sox ace Ed Walsh is the 3rd pitcher within a week to pitch and win both ends of a doubleheader, beating Boston Walsh gives up just one run and seven hits, while fanning 15 in winning 5-1 and 2-0. Walsh did the same thing to the Red Sox in 1905.

» June 22, 1910: Congressman John K. Tener, former Chicago White Stockings and Pittsburgh Alleghenies pitcher, wins the Republican nomination for governor of Pennsylvania. He will be elected and will serve as president of the NL while governor.

» September 25, 1910: In game one of a DH at Philadelphia, the Chicago White Sox stop A's ace Jack Coombs' string of shutout innings at 53 with a run in the 7th. But Coombs beats Ed Walsh 3–1 in 14 innings. The Sox win the nitecap, 5–2.

» May 7, 1911: Ty Cobb goes 4-for-5 and drives in the tying and winning runs to help Detroit beat lefty Doc White and the Chicago White Sox, 5–4.

» June 18, 1911: Down 13–1 after five 1/2 innings, the Tigers make up a 12-run deficit to stage the biggest comeback in ML history, defeating the visiting Chicago White Sox by a score of 16–15. Ty Cobb chips in with five hits and five RBIs, as the Tigers score five in the 8th and three runs in the 9th. Cobb scores the winner when Sam Crawford hits a drive over the head of CF Ping Bodie for a double. Reliever Ed Walsh takes the loss with Clarence Mitchell pitching the last two innings to win.

» August 10, 1917: Four days after shutting out the Browns, Walter Johnson pitches a 1-hitter against the Chicago White Sox. Tomorrow, three Nationals—Jim Shaw (6.2 innings), Doc Ayres, and George Dumont will duplicate Big Train's performance, also against Chicago (as noted by Steve Boren).

» August 14, 1919: Chicago White Sox CF Happy Felsch ties the major-league record with four OF assists in one game, but Boston beats the White Sox 15-6.

» July 15, 1920: Babe Ruth ties his 1919 record of 29 HRs with a game-winner in the 13th to beat the Browns 13-10. Two days later, he will break it by hitting two off Chicago White Sox P Dickie Kerr.

» February 16, 1934: Eppa Rixey of the Cincinnati Reds announces his retirement after 21 seasons and a career 266-251 mark. The next day Urban "Red" Faber retires, leaving a 20-year career mark of 254-212, all with the Chicago White Sox.

» January 22, 1935: The Senators get Bump Hadley from the St. Louis Browns in a trade for Luke Sewell, who is passed on to the Chicago White Sox.

» November 6, 1935: P Sad Sam Jones, after 21 successive but not always successful American League seasons, is released by the Chicago White Sox.

» August 4, 1939: Mike Kreevich of the Chicago White Sox equals the ML record by grounding into four successive DPs against the Washington Senators.

» April 16, 1940: Working in 47-degree weather, Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians throws an Opening Day no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox, winning 1-0 at Comiskey Park. Rollie Hemsley has the only RBI. Edgar Smith is the losing pitcher. It is the first Opening Day no-hitter since 1909.

» June 8, 1940: The Washington Senators tip the Chicago White Sox 1–0 in 18 innings in the first game of a doubleheader at Comiskey Park.

» March 4, 1941: Grace Comiskey, widow of J. Louis Comiskey, is elected president of the Chicago White Sox. Her husband died on July 18, 1939.

» May 15, 1941: Joe DiMaggio gets a single in four at bats against Ed Smith of the Chicago White Sox to start his 56-game hitting streak. Joe D's hit goes unnoticed as the Yankees lose, 13–1. Taffy Wright homers and drives in four White Sox runs, the 8th straight game he's driven in a run.

» May 20, 1941: OF Taft Wright of the Chicago White Sox doubles to drive in a run and sets an American League record by driving in at least one run in 13 consecutive games. Wright has 22 RBI in the streak, although in six of the games he knocked in a run without a hit.

» March 18, 1942: Two black players, Jackie Robinson and Nate Moreland, request a tryout with the Chicago White Sox during spring training at Pasadena. Manager Jimmie Dykes allows them to work out but dismisses the two without an offer.

» May 21, 1943: At Griffith Stadium, the Chicago White Sox top the Washington Senators 1–0 in one hour, 29 minutes, the quickest night game in American League history.

» May 24, 1946: Ted Lyons, 45 years old, gives up the mound to replace Jimmie Dykes as Chicago White Sox skipper. He is 1-4 but has an ERA of 2.32. The last 28 games he pitched, dating back to 1941, were complete.

» June 8, 1947: The Washington Senators edge the Chicago White Sox 1-0 in 18 innings on Al Evans's triple and Sherry Robertson's long fly. It is the 4th 1-0, 18-inning game in history.

» June 13, 1947: The Boston Red Sox beat the Chicago White Sox 5-3 before 34,510 "first nighters" in the first night game at Fenway Park.

» July 5, 1947: Larry Doby of the Cleveland Indians becomes the first black to play in the AL. He strikes out as a pinch hitter, as the Chicago White Sox edge the Indians 6-5. Tomorrow he will go 1-for-5 in his first full game at 1B.

» July 18, 1948: Pat Seerey, chunky Sox left fielder, hits four home runs, the last in the 11th inning, to lead the Chicago White Sox to a 12–11 victory over the Athletics in Philadelphia. Seerey is the 5th ML player to accomplish the feat and is the only player in ML history to twice reach 15 or more total bases in a game, having totaled 15 bases in 1945. Fat Pat's first shot is over the LF bleacher roof off Carl Scheib, the next two —off Scheib and Bob Savage—are on the roof, and the last, off Lou Brissie, into the upper LF stands. Brissie, the 5th pitcher, is the loser against Howie Judson. The A's take the 2nd game, 6–1, in five innings as Seerey is 0-for-2. On the 24th, Seerey will become the first player to strike out seven times in a doubleheader.

» August 20, 1948: The Indians draw record 78,382 for the largest crowd to attend a night game. The Indians go on to beat the Chicago White Sox, 1–0, at Memorial Stadium as Satchel Paige blanks the opposition on three hits for the 4th consecutive shutout by Cleveland hurlers. Bill Wight is the hard-luck loser. Besides Paige, Gene Bearden, Sam Zoldak, and Bob Lemon fired shutouts.

» August 3, 1953: Chicago White Sox 1B Ferris Fain brawls in a Maryland cafe. The team fines him $600.

» September 27, 1953: The St. Louis Browns play both their last game in Sportsman's Park and the last game in the franchise's 52-year history. Fittingly, they lose 2-1 to Billy Pierce and the Chicago White Sox in 10 innings for their 100th defeat of the season. Reserve 1B Ed Mickelson drives in Johnny Groth in the 4th inning for the last run of the Browns franchise.

» April 1, 1962: University of Detroit basketball star Dave DeBusschere, also a pitcher, signs with the Chicago White Sox.

» June 3, 1963: Chicago White Sox 1B Joe Cunningham is sidelined until Labor Day after fracturing his right collarbone in a collision with Angels 1B Charlie Dees. The Sox are a 1/2 game ahead of New York. Cunningham, who hit .295 last year with 101 walks, will never be the same player after the injury.

» September 7, 1974: During a 3–1 win over the Chicago White Sox, California's Nolan Ryan has a fastball clocked at 100.8 miles per hour—the fastest pitch ever recorded.

» January 4, 1977: Mary Shane is hired by the Chicago White Sox as the first woman TV play-by-play announcer.

» August 22, 1980: Admitting that he can no longer compete financially in baseball's inflated economy, colorful owner Bill Veeck agrees to sell the Chicago White Sox to Youngstown, Ohio, shopping-mall magnate Eddie DeBartolo, Sr. for a reported $20 million. The sale will fall through, however, when American League owners twice fail to give Veeck the 10 votes needed for approval.

» November 26, 1980: Outfielder Ron LeFlore, who hit .257 with 97 stolen bases for the Expos last season, signs as a free agent with the Chicago White Sox.

» March 9, 1981: Free agent Carlton Fisk agrees to a contract with the Chicago White Sox.

» August 23, 1982: After days after challenging the Reds "no facial hair" policy, P Jim Kern finds himself a member of the Chicago White Sox. The Reds receive Wade Rowdon and OF Leo Garcia.

» September 27, 1984: The Indians top the Twins, 4–3, on a 2-out pinch solo homer in the 9th by Jamie Quirk. Ron Davis serves up the game-winner to Quirk, whose contract was purchased three days ago from the Chicago White Sox. For Quirk, it will be his only at bat in a Cleveland uniform during his one-week stint: the Tribe will release him on October one when the season ends.

» June 16, 1989: Rick Wolff, 37, writing an article on minor-league baseball for Sports Illustrated, finishes a 3-day stint playing 2B for the South Bend White Sox (Midwest League). He replaces Cesar Bernhardt and goes 4-for-7 against the Burlington Braves. Wolff will finish the year with the highest average of any Chicago White Sox farmhand.

» April 4, 1992: Chicago White Sox OF Bo Jackson undergoes hip–replacement surgery. He suffered the injury in an NFL game in January of 1991.

» February 7, 1994: Basketball superstar Michael Jordan signs a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox. He is invited to spring training with the team as a non-roster player.

» August 15, 1996: P Bobby Seay, the top pick of the Chicago White Sox in the June draft, is declared a free agent after the team fails to tender him a formal contract within 15 days of the draft, a violation of major league rules. Seay is the 1st player in the 32-year history of the draft to be declared a free agent in the summer he was selected.

» July 31, 1997: The San Francisco Giants receive starting pitchers Wilson Alvarez and Danny Darwin, along with top reliever Roberto Hernandez from the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox, just three 1/2 games behind Cleveland in the American League Central, receive minor league SS Mike Caruso, OF Brian Manning, and Ps Lorenzo Barcelo, Keith Foulke, Bob Howry, and Ken Vining. In the house cleaning, the Sox have moved eight players with a combined 92 years of ML experience. Sox 3B Robin Ventura observes, "We didn't realize August first was the end of the season."

» February 18, 1998: Chicago Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray dies four days after collapsing at a Valentine's Day supper. Caray, age 84, was known, among other things, for leading the fans in a rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the 7th–inning stretch at Wrigley Field. He previously broadcast the games of the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago White Sox in a career that spanned half a century.

» December 22, 1999: Kip Wells, drafted in the first round by the Chicago White Sox, finally signs for 1.495 million plus an invite to the White Sox spring camp.

» April 2, 2000: Texas Ranger starter Kenny Rogers ties Frank Viola for third place in consecutive home wins when he defeats the Chicago White Sox in Arlington. Rogers has won 19 consecutive home games and hasn't lost on his own turf since June 28, 1997, a span of 1,012 days (through April 4). Ray Kremer of the Pittsburgh Pirates holds the record of 22 consecutive home wins set in 1926-27: Lefty Grove of Boston (1938-41) is 2nd with 20 straight home wins.

» April 27, 2000: Major league baseball announces what is believed to be a record 16 suspensions for a total of 82 games to members of the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers for their parts in two brawls in last Saturday's game between the teams. Managers Phil Garner and Jerry Manuel were suspended for eight games apiece, Detroit coach Juan Samuel for 15 games, and Tigers 3B Dean Palmer for eight games.

» June 30, 2000: The New York Yankees tie a major-league record when three players (Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez and Jose Vizcaino) each hit sacrifice flies in the 4th inning against the Tigers. The record was set by the Chicago White Sox on July 1, 1962, in the second game of a doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians.

» September 25, 2000: The Indians play the 2nd 3-team doubleheader since 1900 at Jacobs Field in Cleveland. The Tribe defeats the Chicago White Sox, 9-2, in the opener, then loses the 2nd game to the Minnesota Twins, 4-3. The last 3-team doubleheader was in 1951.

» November 8, 2000: Jerry Manuel of the Chicago White Sox is named the AL Manager of the Year.