Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Interesting White Sox Facts

I've been doing a lot of reading out of sheer boredom lately, and I've put together some REALLY interesting stuff about the history of the White Sox here. The South Siders have got a LOT to do with the history and heritage of baseball, and you'd never even know it. Well, that is, until you read THIS:

The White Sox franchise started off as a minor league team, the Sioux City Cornhuskers, in the league that would eventually become the American League (which used to be a minor league system for the National League).

The White Sox won 5 American League pennants between 1900 and 1919, including the very first American League pennant in 1900.

The team was originally called the White Stockings, which was actually the disbanded moniker of the Chicago Cubs, who had changed a few years earlier since they’d be sharing Soldier Field with the Bears (Bears, Cubs, get it?). The Chicago newspapers were always shortening the team name as “Sox” to make the word easier to read by spelling it phonetically for the city’s diverse international population (and yes, we did this before the Boston Red Stockings). In 1903, then-owner Charles Comiskey just adopted “White Sox” as the new official team name.

In 1906 the White Sox won the World Series. They beat the Cubs in six games.

Of course, there’s the big Black Sox scandal of 1919, where seven White Sox players were accused of throwing the World Series to win money gambling against themselves. Not only did this cost the Sox a World Series, but it sent the team into decades of mediocrity. The team’s best seven players were banned from the game in the prime of their careers. The Sox didn’t win another World Series until 2005.

In 1959, the Sox scored 11 runs in one inning—on only one hit! However, this was due mostly to Kansas City providing 10 walks, 3 errors, and one hit batter.

The White Sox almost completed a trade for Babe Ruth. The offer was Shoeless Joe Jackson and $60,000, which the Red Sox almost accepted. Shoeless Joe was one of the guys sent packing in the Black Sox scandal. So instead, Boston sent The Sultan of Swat to the Yankees for $100,000 in cash.

When the White Sox won their first pennant in 40 years in 1959, Mayor Richard J Daley ordered the air-raid sirens to be set off. This scared and confused the hell out of much of Chicago, since 1959 was right smack dab in the middle of the Cold War.

The most fans to ever attend a World Series game was at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 1959 when the White Sox played the Dodgers. There were over 92,700 fans in attendance. To put that into perspective, U.S. Cellular Field seats around 40,000 fans when filled to capacity. Soldier Field, even with all its recent additions, seats only 61,500.

When the Milwaukee Braves were moved to Atlanta, former minority owner (and current MLB commish) Bud Selig wanted to lobby for an expansion team in Milwaukee, so he signed a contract with Sox ownership to have the Pale Hose play 9 games in the Land ‘o Beer. Those nine games drew about 265,000 fans (the other 58 games played at Comiskey Park in Chicago drew about 540,000. That’s not a typo).

When MLB wouldn’t grant Selig an expansion team, he tried to move the Sox to Milwaukee. The AL blocked the sale, however, because they didn’t want to lose a team in such a huge market. So in 1968 Selig moved the Seattle Pilots instead and renamed them the Milwaukee Brewers. Of course, this sent the Seattle into a tremendous tizzy, and in 1975 the Sox almost got sent to the Emerald City to fill the void left by the Pilots’ departure (of course, Seattle was eventually granted an expansion team, the Mariners, in 1976). Had the Sox actually have gone to Seattle, the Oakland Athletics would have then moved into Comiskey and become the new Chicago AL team. Even after all of that hullabaloo, the team was almost sold to a group hoping to move the team to New Orleans, but that deal fell through as well. Confusing, eh? The bottom line is that we almost lost the Sox three times in only a few years!

The tradition of singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” was started at Comiskey Park by Harry Carey, who was a screaming idiot. But, the tradition continues today! The song is the third most-played song in America, behind only “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Happy Birthday to You.”

Current White Sox announcer Ken “Hawk” Harrelson was the team’s general manager in 1986. That stint apparently didn’t work out to well, as owner Jerry Reinsdorf called that hiring “the worst mistake I’ve ever made.”

To commemorate the last game played at the old Comiskey Park in 1990, the White Sox wore replica 1917 uniforms, marking the first ever “Turn Back the Clock” day in the MLB. Many teams now do this, as the tradition continues league-wide.

The White Sox became World Series champions in 2005 for the first time since the Black Sox scandal, and they are looking like they’ll be strong contenders this year as well. I figured this would be interesting for you all to read at the All-Star break this year. Enjoy, and Go, Go White Sox!!!

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