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White Sox-Giants World Tour: Jan. 5, 1914

The players -- and a suit-wearing Charles Comiskey -- try their hands at cricket

Sydney Cricket Ground in the 1930s.
Sydney Cricket Ground in the 1930s.
Jan. 5 in Sydney: White Sox 10, Giants 5
Jan 5 in Sydney: Giants 15, New South Wales 2 (seven innings)

In between their doubleheaders in Sydney, the tourists had plenty of entertainment options. They spent the downtime attending a boxing match, theater shows, taking a tour around the harbor and otherwise being shown the best the city of 600,000 had to offer.

Back to work today, the second Sydney date resembled the first in terms of results. The Giants easily dispatched the team of locals after an early challenge thanks to a seven-run third inning. They opened up such a cushion that John McGraw -- who had never pitched in a professional game -- threw four innings of relief of Hooks Wiltse. It was only supposed to go five innings, but apparently McGraw wanted to keep throwing for show.

Likewise, the game between the White Sox and Giants wasn't much of a contest, either. Tris Speaker took Red Faber deep for a two-run shot in the first inning, and a three-run error by Bunny Hearn in right (a pitcher pressed into outfield action) dug an even deeper hole for the temporary Giant. The Saturday Referee and the Arrow, a New South Wales newspaper, said that the sun caused problems for the defense, and right field was particularly brutal. However, Joe Benz and his White Sox defense avoided a similar fate, making for an easy afternoon.

Today was more noteworthy for the pregame show, in which the baseballers attempted cricket. White Sox manager Jimmy Callahan had talked up the foreign game at a luncheon on the first day, skeptically relayed by Sydney's Referee:

Mr. Callahan is a diplomatist. At the luncheon 'the chief spokesman' called upon him for a few words. Mr. Callahan referred in very kindly terms to cricket. He said that he had met our cricketers in New York, and went to see them play. On the first day he did not understand the game, and did not care for it; on the second day he understood it, and began to see a good deal in it to admire; and on the third day he was so impressed that he considers cricket is quite as good a game as baseball. If Mr. Callahan has an aspiration to attain eminence in the diplomatic service he is going along the high road to win his distinction. He was speaking to a gathering largely composed of cricketers, past and present, speaking in the pavilion of one of the finest cricket grounds in the world, and he was careful to give cricket a good word. He hoped to see the day when America and Australia would be able to carry out international matches at cricket and at baseball, for he saw no reason why cricket should not spread in America, no reason why baseball should not spread in Australia. It was a very broad sentiment very nicely and briefly put -- an effective speech in tabloid.

According to James E. Elfers in "The Tour to End All Tours," the Americans loved hitting with the flat bat. The players had so much fun swinging it that Charles Comiskey wanted to give it a shot, business attire be damned.

"I should think I ought to be able to knock the ball out of the lot with a paddle like that," he said as he strode toward the wicket. Looking every inch the prosperous businessman he had become, the paunched Comiskey, in his dark suit, dug his white dress shoes into the ground and slugged the first ball bowled his way over the fence.

After his clout, the Old Roman was informed that his shot was worth six runs and there was no need to run to the next wicket if you hit one out of the grounds. There is no wasted energy in cricket. All in all, however, the tourists were underwhelmed by cricket. Iva Thorpe, recalling the day's events in her diary, was certainly not the last person to comment on the slowness of cricket in comparison to baseball.

Likewise, the cricket-leaning crowd in Sydney saw some aspects of the American game that left them cold. The Sydney Morning Herald said the drama of the first game (won by a Buck Weaver double) kept their interest, but in a game where the outcome wasn't in doubt, many of the mechanisms of the game went over the audience's heads.

To those who are conversant with the subtleties, strategy, and finesse of the pastime, the displays were an undiluted joy, but somehow there was something lacking. Spectacularly they were disappointing. Everything was done so easily and so simply that no effect was created, and possibly the absence of the incidental "rooting" took away some of the glamour.

The Morning Herald did praise the outfielders' ability to run down flies, and the Saturday Referee and the Arrow's review backed up that notion, explaining why the fans applauded every catch with far more enthusiasm than American crowds. But the Saturday Referee and the Arrow found a few more actions to appreciate:

Baserunning: "Unlike a lot of our players, the "Yanks" look upon the first bag as the get-away station, and if the fielder makes the slightest fumble they are well on their way to the next bag, and I never noticed one man astray in his judgment of what he was capable of in getting one, two or three bags on a hit ball."

Sliding: "The sliding to bases was also very clever, the dive feet first, with the body swinging away from the fieldsman being universally used. It is much quicker executed than the slide hands and chest first."

Awareness: "And how do the fielders back one another up? There were never less than two men behind the man waiting to take the ball. Every position was fortified to a maximum."

But the author -- whose byline is "Short-Stop" -- possessed an awareness, too, because he even goes so far as to pick up some unwritten rules.

One thing is certain, that we in Sydney interpret the Rules too literally. I saw many batsmen hit the ball when well out of their box, men attempt to strike, and fielders leaving their bags before a play was completed. Yet the umpire never once penalized the offenders.

No matter how impressed or underwhelmed a media outlet was, everybody seemed to agree that the teams didn't stay long enough -- so you could say the White Sox and Giants left them wanting more. They had a brief dinner after the game at 6 p.m., then headed for the train to Melbourne an hour later.

Major League Baseball will return to Sydney this season, as the Dodgers and Diamondbacks are set to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Sox-Giants game with the season's opening series on March 22-23.

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