clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The other time the White Sox hit seven homers

New, 31 comments

It was in 1955, and the Sox managed to win that one. Quite handily.

Kansas City's Municipal Stadium in April 1955.
Kansas City's Municipal Stadium in April 1955.
Harry Barth / Harry S. Truman Library & Museum

The White Sox tied a franchise record on Saturday by hitting seven home runs.

The other time the Sox hit that mark, though, it sounded like a lot more fun. Back on April 23, 1955, the White Sox homered seven times en route to a 29-6 victory over the Kansas City Athletics at Municipal Stadium.

It's kind of a weird team to do it. The 1955 Sox had more power than other old Sox teams had, but that's not saying much. They hit a club record 116 homers ... but it was only good for sixth out of eight AL teams. Walt Dropo led the team with 19; Todd Frazier already has 20.

The opponent, however, was up to the task. The 1955 A's ended up with the worst ERA in the AL at 5.35, finishing dead last not only in runs allowed, but hits, homers, walks and strikeouts, too. They finished with a staff ERA+ of 78, which is incredible since it's very difficult for a team to drag it below 80. For context, the Phillies had the worst pitching staff in baseball last year, and they still compiled an 85 ERA+. The last team with a 78 ERA+ was the 1998 Marlins, post-fire sale and at the height of Sillyball.

This game basically summed up the season for Kansas City's pitching staff, as all six pitchers -- Bobby Shantz, Lee Wheat, Bob Trice, Moe Burtschy, Bob Spicer and Ozzie Van Brabant -- all allowed more runs than innings pitched.

As for the dingers? The Chicago Tribune says the Sox took advantage of "a brisk tailwind" to left, resulting in the following roll call:

  1. Bob Nieman off Shantz, first inning, three-run shot.
  2. Sherm Lollar off Shantz, second inning, solo shot.
  3. Nieman off Trice, third inning, two-run shot.
  4. Dropo off Trice, back-to-back.
  5. Lollar off Trice, fourth inning, solo shot.
  6. Minnie Minoso off Spicer, seventh inning, three-run shot.
  7. Jack Harshman off Spicer, eighth inning, two-run shot.

Yep, the Sox' record-setting barrage was capped off by a pitcher. In the A's defense, Harshman was a converted slugging first baseman who hit 21 homers during his pitching career, hitting six in a season in 1956 and 1959. Beyond that, the Tribune said Harshman did it the hard way:

Harshman's clout had something different from the others, including four bases by [Philadelphia's] Bill Renna and Vic Power. Harshman's was the only blow that didn't travel with the wind. He clubbed his in the eighth onto the hillside that separates the artificial barrier from the regular fence in right. The drive went well beyond a 353 foot sign.

(I've written a lot about Harshman, and he keeps being worth it.)

The assault was part of a banner day for the White Sox. Their 29 runs tied the modern MLB record at the time, and their 29 hits was one short.

While the 2016 Sox tied the home run mark, the other offensive totals from that day stand alone. The closest a Sox team has come to 29 runs was the 1970 Sox, who beat the Red Sox 22-13 at Fenway Park. As for the hit total, 26 years after the Kansas City explosion, the Sox racked up 26 hits against the Orioles. That's it.

The 2016 White Sox, on the other hand, only scored eight runs on their seven homers, which is a first. Congratulations to us for seeing something baseball hadn't seen before. That's kind of a victory.