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Sox Century: May 17, 1917

The White Sox sweep the A’s, then deal with a strange managerial rumor

Bill Carrigan, manager of rumor.
Harris & Ewing / Library of Congress

With the Boston Red Sox coming to town for the start of their highly anticipated season series, the White Sox used the sad-sack Philadelphia Athletics as a proper tune-up.

They capped off a four-game sweep with a 7-0 victory, and Eddie Cicotte somehow kept improving upon his already sterling May by throwing a five-hitter. OK, it was a step back from his previous start — a two-hitter against the Yankees -- but his monthly numbers improved nevertheless. His line through seven May appearances and three starts:

  • 3623 innings
  • 16 hits
  • 1 run
  • 0 earned runs
  • 6 walks
  • 17 strikeouts
  • .137/.179/.137 line against

I.E. Sanborn of the Chicago Tribune summed up his start:

Cicotte allowed the Athletics five hits, two of which were for extra sacks, but they were scattered through the first five innings, and all danger was extracted from them by perfect support. In the last four innings Very Good Eddie became Very Best, and no alien was allowed even to trample on first base alive.

He stranded a runner in scoring position in each of the first two innings, and no Athletic made it past first afterward.

Meanwhile, the White Sox were held scoreless for the first three innings, then scored in the final five, as persistence paid off against Cy Falkenberg. Happy Felsch finally put the Sox on the board with a two-out RBI triple in the fourth, and then Falkenburg contributed to his own demise in the fifth inning, as the Chicago Examiner explains:

The next run was picked up in the fifth on a series of peculiar plays. [Swede] Risberg opened with a double down the third-base line. A wild pitch floated past [Byrd] Lynn, so he threw his bat at it for a third strike and dashed to first.

I kinda wonder why players don’t do that more often. Continuing...

With Cicotte up another wild pitch went by and Risberg tried to score. [Wally] Schang recovered and threw to Falkenberg, who covered the plate. The runner was out, but after getting the decision, “Cy” let the ball get away.

That gave the Sox a 2-0 lead without a whole lot of heavy lifting on their end. When they actually started stringing together hits, they buried the A’s. They racked up 20 bases on 13 hits. Eddie Collins was the only player without a hit, but mostly because he drew three walks.

The White Sox outscored Philadelphia 27-4 in the four-game series, and the final victory narrowed Boston’s league lead to a half-game on the eve of their arrival.

Also arriving with Boston: former Red Sox manager Bill Carrigan, who triggered a strange rumor in the papers.

“Rough” Carrigan led the Red Sox to back-to-back World Series in 1915 and 1916 as a player-manager, only to walk away to spend time with his family. He actually wanted to quit after the first season, but the Red Sox were able to get an extra year out of him. After that, he stayed out of baseball for 10 years despite numerous suitors.

Apparently, this mystique made him such easy rumor fodder that he was presented as a candidate to replace Pants Rowland in the middle of what is now a 20-12 start. From a full-length article in the Examiner:

A tip came over the wires from Boston last night to the effect that Bill Carrigan is coming to Chicago to see President Charles A. Comiskey of the White Sox about taking Clarence Rowland’s place as manager of the South Side club. Comiskey could not be located last night and neither could Carrigan. [...]

Toward the end of it, Sam P. Hall acknowledged the possibility of shenanigans:

One accusation heard last night was that the report was being circulated by people in the East who figure the work of the Sox will be affected thereby. As far as can be discerned Rowland has been doing fairly well with his white hosed athletes.

The Tribune ran only a blurb about it in a box above the game recap, calling it “a report in the Cub camp.”

Record: 20-12 | Box score