On June 11, 1965, the White Sox traveled to Washington to face the Senators in a Friday doubleheader. The club was playing excellent baseball for Al Lopez. They had a 31-20 record and trailed the Twins by 1.5 games in the American League standings. The White Sox players were probably unaware of the significance of their next win to the franchise.
The second incarnation of the Senators were in their fifth season of existence and still had not solidified themselves as anything other than a doormat. Given that free agency wouldn't come for another decade, it must have been difficult for an expansion team to have a respectable record even after five years. Washington was 24-32, which represented an improvement on the performance of prior seasons in which they never had a winning percentage above .383.
Lopez sent Juan Pizarro to the hill for the first game of the twin bill. Pizarro was a left-hander out of Puerto Rico with a blazing fastball and, since being traded to the White Sox in 1961, had developed into an above average starter. He made the All-Star team in both 1963 and 1964. Alas, 1965 would mark the beginning of a long decline for Pizarro. The 28 year old would make just 18 starts that season, as injuries, including shoulder problems, began to pile up.
It was just the 5th start of the season for Pizarro and the prior four had been quite poor. This start, though, would go much better. He'd pitch five innings and give up just one run. Interestingly, Lopez let Pizarro bat for himself in the top of the 6th, with runners on first and second and two outs. Pizarro was a decent hitter - for a pitcher. Regardless of the sensibility of sending him to the plate, it worked out as Pizarro singled home catcher J.C. Martin and centerfielder Ken Berry, with the help of an error by Senators centerfielder Don Lock.
Pizarro faced the first batter in the bottom of the 6th, giving up a single to the Senators' young third baseman Ken McMullen. With the White Sox leading 5-1 and future Hall of Famer Frank Howard up next, Lopez went to his bullpen ace, right-hander Eddie Fisher. [Befitting for a Hall of Famer, Howard has not one but two excellent nicknames: Hondo and the Capital Punisher.]
1965 would be Fisher's finest season. He would appear in a league-leading 82 games, finish a league-leading 60 games and lead the league with his 0.974 WHIP. His 15-7 record, combined with 24 saves, would get him The Sporting News' Fireman of the Year Award (the precursor to Reliever of the Year). His 165.1 IP is unfathomable to relievers today.
Fisher struck out Howard and, other than giving up one run in the 7th, his four innings to close the White Sox' 5-2 win would be unremarkable.
The combined effort of Pizarro and Fisher was more than enough for the White Sox offense. Lopez rested two of his main offensive threats, first baseman Bill "Moose" Skowron and catcher John Romano, likely because they were facing Phil Ortega, who may well have been the worst starting pitcher in the American League that year.
But the remaining main offensive threats came through. Second baseman Don Buford went 1-3 with 2 walks, 2 stolen bases and 1 run scored. Rightfielder Floyd Robinson would go hitless but also had 2 walks and scored a run. And third baseman Pete Ward was 2-4.
When Fisher recorded the final out, the White Sox got something they'd waited 64 years for: the franchise's 5,000th regular season win.
Today, the White Sox have 8,741 wins. The club entered the league in 1901 with seven other franchises: the Yankees (then Baltimore Orioles), Red Sox (then Americans), Indians (then Blues), Tigers, Athletics (then in Philadelphia), Twins (then Washington Senators) and Orioles (then ).
As you can guess, the Yankees have the most wins of the group with 9,801. The White Sox also trail the Red Sox, Indians and Tigers (by 27 wins) but are ahead of the Athletics (by 71 wins), Twins and Orioles (who have 8,182 wins).