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Sox Century: April 19, 1917

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Rain spoils the home opener, but White Sox and Browns slog through it anyway

The Chicago Tribune’s sports page heavily emphasized the military aspects of the home opener.

As was the case 100 years later, the White Sox had to contend with ugly weather for their home opener at Comiskey Park in 1917. An announced crowd of 27,000 fans had shown up to see the Sox take on the St. Louis Browns, and nearly all of them early enough to watch the White Sox participate in military drills carrying rifles and wearing regulation army uniforms.

From the Chicago Tribune:

For an instant there was a pause of surprise, then as the rooters recognized their idols they realized the transformation that had taken place since they last saw them. There was a roar that fairly drowned the band, which was trying to furnish a quickstep for the Sox to march by.

But by the time first pitch rolled around, the field was a mess, and probably unplayable by the standards of most eras:

When game time came there was some anticipation, but this was doomed to disappointment. Before [St. Louis leadoff man Burt] Shotton had completed a time at bat rain [soaked] the whole field and made conditions impossible for baseball. But the crowd clamored for a game, and there was some money in the box office, so the umpires started them at it again as soon as there was a slight letup. The thing was finished in a steady drizzle that made the mud deeper and deeper.

The Tribune treated the game as a casualty of the weather. I.E. Sanborn noted that Jim Scott exited during a third inning in which the Browns scored six times, Reb Russell had nothing, and Dave Danforth had to pitch the final seven innings after starting against Detroit two days before, but the field was a farce.

Irving Vaughan of the Chicago Examiner, on the other hand, was less charitable:

Flags, flowers, rain, mud, the St. Louis Browns and some 27,000 fans featured the annual Spring opening of Comiskey Park yesteray. The White Sox were there also, but took no hand in the big doings. They merely hung around thinking of better places to be, and the Browns were meanwhile busy collecting runs that gave them undisputed claim to a 6 to 2 victory.

Scott was staked to a 2-0 lead through two, as Joe Jackson hit an RBI single off the great Eddie Plank in the first, and Ray Schalk scored on a throwing error in the second. But Swede Risberg committed his own bad throw to start the third, and it was the first of a few misplays in an inning that also featured plenty of solid contact from the Browns. Russell didn’t retire a batter after relieving Scott, for instance, but in part because Eddie Collins and Nemo Leibold both lost track of flyballs.

While the rain persisted through the end, the White Sox and Browns stopped after the St. Louis cloudburst. No further runs were scored. Or, as Vaughan put it, “There wasn’t much else to the game.”

Record: 5-2 | Box score