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White Sox-Giants World Tour: Nov. 5, 1913 - Nov. 7, 1913

The unfamiliar southwest climate plays tricks on pitching and defense

Warren Ballpark during the Bisbee Deportation in 1917.
Warren Ballpark during the Bisbee Deportation in 1917.
University of Arizona

After betting heavily on a fight between a starving badger and an experienced dog, the White Sox and Giants boarded a train and logged some serious miles westward.

Nov. 5 in El Paso, Texas: White Sox 10, Giants 7

You may have noticed that the great Christy Mathewson wasn't having much fun this trip, and that continued in El Paso. hasn't had much success on this tour. That continued in El Paso, as the Sox tagged him for three runs on four hits over his only inning of work.

In the short term, he was better off in the dugout. It wasn't like Missouri, where Matty and the others had to contend with snow and mud. It was quite the opposite -- drought-stricken fairgrounds and high winds turned defense into a nightmare. From the Chicago Record-Herald's account in the Dallas Morning News:

Some ribald comments on the ability of the two teams were heard in the bleachers, but considering the conditions under which the players labored the game was better than the average. Much work had been expended to make a diamond out of a waste of sand within the old fair grounds, but the balls proved erratic and the air worse, as the high sky knocked scientific calculations of the outfielders galley west.

As it has not rained here for something like fourteen months, the players found the field well dried out, but the sand acted as if it had turned to ashes.

Mathewson's counterpart Jim Scott encountered the same defensive issues, but he was able to endure the bad bounces and throw an ugly complete game (seven runs on 11 hits), as the Sox scored 10 on 19 themselves.

While the visiting accounts noted the poor conditions, the El Paso Herald defended the turf. The lede from its recap:

It was a fine day, a fine field and a great crowd but the game between the New York mastodons and the Chicago stockings here Wednesday afternoon was loosely played.

But the Herald account offers a few other insights I haven't seen, such as umpire Bill Klem announcing players with their billing -- Jim Thorpe as "the world's greatest athlete," Ray Schalk as "the boy wonder," and "a few other wonders at odd times."

Also, there's this:

An aeroplane, driven by Earl Wagner, mechanician for Katherine Stinson, appeared from Fort Bliss during the first inning and after doing a series of spirals, it volplaned down on the field and Sam Crawford, the clown of the Detroit Tigers, climbed in and took a little ride with the aviator -- on the ground. The machine attracted much attention as the big leaguers and game stopped until it could be trundled off the field.

In "The Tour To End All Tours," James E. Elfers says it was Germany Schaefer that climbed into the Wright-style biplane. That would make more sense, because he's the notorious clown. The El Paso Morning Times claimed responsibility for scheduling the stunt in its report, which fawned over the skill of the aviator.

The travelers headed to a dinner hosted by the city after the game, and even though it was open to fans, the Herald says half the tables were empty. John McGraw didn't attend -- he wasn't in a great mood due to the recent death of his mother-in-law, as well as some angry interactions with fans during the game, according to a Herald story from Nov. 8.

Also on this day in the Tribune, rumors surfaced of trade discussions between the Sox and Cleveland Naps that would send popular outfielder Ping Bodie to Cleveland for one Joe Jackson. Charles Comiskey wouldn't land Shoeless Joe for another year, though.

Nov. 6 in Douglas, Ariz.: Giants 14, White Sox 5

The train arrived in the copper mining town of Douglas (1910 population: 6,437) in the morning the great fanfare. The Tribune account says the Ninth Cavalry Band welcomed them, and they were taken in automobiles across the border to Agua Prieta, Mexico the site of three battles during the Mexican Revolution. That trip showed a little bit of daring, as there was quite a bit of tension along the border, and it would reach a breaking point when Pancho Villa started making his name in 1915.

(The Chicago Herald-Record's description of the Ninth Cavalry Band's purpose: "to soothe the savage breasts of the warring Mexicans across the border.")

A dinner was planned afterwards, which Mathewson and Speaker did not attend, for they slipped away to play some golf.

For everybody but "Desert Valley Jim" Scott, the desert air was completely unfamiliar to the pitchers. Unfortunately for the Sox, Scott had the day off. Walt Leverenz was the lucky one to discover that breaking balls didn't really break. From the Herald-Record:

The hits pounded off Leverenz were something scandalous, and as he depends on curves exclusively, he never stood a show. Scott had put the pitchers wise to the fact that there was nothing in the curve line for at least a few days for any pitcher in the territory, and his prophesy came true.

Hooks Wiltse didn't ptich a great game for the Giants, but it was more than enough. He did give up a couple homers, including one to Hal Chase, who had returned to the lineup the day before from his sprained ankle.

After the game, some of the travelers headed to their next stop by car, while others would take the train for the brief 26-mile jaunt.

Nov. 7 in Bisbee, Ariz.: Giants 9, White Sox 1

The close distance and cooperation between company towns allowed the Sox and Giants to start this one early. Even though first pitch was thrown around 10:30 a.m., Warren Ballpark was filled to capacity by Phelps Dodge Corporation miners, who were given the day off, much like their brethren in Douglas the day before.

Red Faber encountered the same problems as Leverenz the day before, according to the Tribune:

The game was staged amid scenes unique to nearly all of the players. They came out of the desert last night and into the hills, where the air is rarefied. Faber must breathe through his salary wing, because it displayed all the symptoms of zone intoxication, and the Giants found him early and frequently.

Art Fromme had no such problems, holding the Sox to one run on nine hits. Morrie Rath drove in the lone White Sox run with a double. The players departed for Los Angeles, which means they avoided what Elfers describes as a pretty rowdy nighttime scene in the Old West mining town.

Bisbee didn't seem like a great place to live if you weren't a Phelps Dodge executive, and the labor problems came to a head in July of 1917, when the same ballpark was used by a posse of more than 2,000 vigilantes to round up more than 1,000 striking miners in what's now known as the Bisbee Deportation.

Warren Ballpark is the lone park from the tour still in use today, and Rob Neyer visited it this past March.

Note: The Sox and Giants played two dates in Los Angeles, so the day-to-day recaps will start with a roundup of both of those games on Saturday.

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