Right on Q: The White Sox' Lost Sixties

The 1964 White Sox

Why the White Sox of the 1960s are the best team you've never heard of

I really, really, really, really, really hope the White Sox wear 1964 throwbacks on Sundays next year.

Because it's high time the White Sox of the 1960s got a little love. White Sox history is pretty spotty to begin with. The bumper sticker version runs like this: "Old Roman, Comiskey Park, World Series in 1917, Black Sox, Aches and Pains, Go-Go Sox, 1959, red stripes, afros, shorts, Disco Demolition, Winning Ugly, Frank Thomas, 2005."

We didn't start the fire.....

Lost in the haze of history are the White Sox of 1960-67.

They don't exist.

The 60s Sox got one shot on the Scoreboard montage - Joe Horlen getting a beer shower after no-hitting the Tigers on Sept. 10, 1967. Late in his life, Moose Skowron was a constant presence on Sox TV broadcasts. Unfortunately, TV broadcasts of Moose actually playing for the White Sox are extremely hard to come by.

That is to say, they don't exist either.

The White Sox of those years were very good. Unfortunately, the Yankees were a little better. Division play wouldn't start until 1969.

Had the American League been split up into Eastern and Western Divisions in 1960, the White Sox would have made the post-season in the following years: 1960, 1961, 1963, and 1964.

If the current Division/Wild Card format was in place: The Sox would have made the post season in 1960 (AL Central champs), 1961 (second Wild Card), 1962 (second Wild Card), 1963 (AL Central champs), 1964 (AL Central champs), 1965 (Wild Card), 1966 (second Wild Card), and 1967 (second Wild Card).

This is a dynasty.

The White Sox were victims of technology. VCRs didn't exist. The networks recorded shows on videotape, but shows were often erased. Videotape was expensive, and broadcasters didn't see the value in keeping old programs. The first 10 years of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson have been lost to history. NBC erased the tapes of Johnny's years in New York. The videotape needed to be reused, and nobody predicted that Johnny Carson would eventually become an icon of American Pop Culture.

The only video evidence of the first decade of Johnny's Tonight Show are clips saved for anniversary shows, and stuff that would up in the archives of private collectors:

The same goes for the 1960s White Sox. Tapes of game broadcasts do not exist ... yet. That could change as soon as someone discovers a videotape in an attic. Third or fourth generation copies of 1960's baseball broadcasts are showing up on YouTube, but a White Sox game has yet to emerge.

Until then, we can watch the home movies of Rube's Sportsman's Club of Harvey, Illinois. They took a bus to "Comisky" (sic) Park in 1962:

The video is a great trip back to the real Mad Men era. Unfortunately, the White Sox play second fiddle to shots of the cameraman's friends drinking and smoking in the stands.

The White Sox were part of the ABC News coverage of the moon landing in 1969. Anchor Frank Reynolds introduced a series of reports about what people were doing when Apollo 11 touched down. The late Hugh Hill reported from Comiskey Park.

SPOILER: They stopped the game, shot fireworks from the scoreboard, and held a moment of silence.

The 1960s Sox get the short shrift because they were quietly competent. They didn't wear ugly uniforms, and they weren't backed by any bizarre Bill Veeck promotions.

They also didn't have any sluggers, so there aren't very many 60-year-olds telling stories of watching big boppers crush one over the fence at Comiskey Park. The Sox of the 1960s were built on pitching. We, as obsessive baseball fans, like pitchers' duels. The general public finds them to be boring. They wanted fireworks.

It may be 50 years after the fact, but it's high time the Sox of the 1960 have got their due. Here's hoping we see a lot more of Joe Horlen in 2014.

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