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Sox Century: May 23, 1917

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After two rainouts, Eddie Cicotte gets White Sox back on track

The Chicago Examiner headline from May 24, 1917.

Relative to his performance earlier this month, the Washington Senators roughed up Eddie Cicotte.

Still, Cicotte pitched well enough for the White Sox to win. They just needed to score a second run for him, is all.

The Washington Senators tagged Cicotte for his first earned run in May while ending his scoreless streak at 3223 innings, but he was otherwise dominant, pitching yet another complete game with minimal damage. He allowed just four hits, and according to the Chicago Tribune, he shouldn’t have even been charged with the run on his tab.

The visitors were given their run in the second. [Sam] Rice led with a liner to right center. [Happy] Felsch tried for it on the fly, but the ball caromed off the ground away from him and let the runner reach second. [Elmer] Smith sacrificed him to third. [Ray] Morgan popper [sic?] a fly back of third base. [Buck] Weaver insisted on taking it, but failed to allow for the wind, and the ball dropped safely over his head. Rice scored on it. The next two went out and that was the last of Cicotte’s trouble.

That’s what it took to score a run off Cicotte in this month. That caused his ERA to balloon to 0.78, but his record improved to 7-2 thanks to just enough support.

Rain had wiped out the last two games of the White Sox’ series with Boston, and the Tribune said “only the big tarpaulin and the excellent drainage made possible the playing of the game after the soaking the field had received.” The papers said the torrent came at an inopportune time, as they had outclassed the Red Sox over the first three games, and the weather remained unseasonably cool deep into May, suppressing attendance and enthusiasm. The Chicago Examiner said “a slim, chilly crowd seemed to have only a passing interest.”

Still, the White Sox found a way to pick up where they left off against Jim Shaw, who at this point in his career was pitching with shotgun pellets in his neck due to a self-inflicted hunting accident more than a year before. The Examiner made it sound more recent in the second paragraph:

Cicotte was pitted against Jim Shaw, the tall boy who not many months ago tried to blow a foot of stature by pulling a loaded shotgun through a fence.

Side note: For those who believe everything happens for a reason, here’s more fatalism fodder from his SABR bio:

An inexperienced outdoorsman, Shaw had accompanied friends on a mid-November rabbit-hunting expedition in fields outside Pittsburgh. As he investigated a rock pile with the stock-end of a 12-gauge shotgun, the weapon discharged from point-blank range, its load striking Shaw in the jaw and throat. Miraculously, Shaw survived the blast but was in dire condition by the time he arrived at St. Francis Hospital. At first, doctors were not optimistic about Shaw’s chances, but were heartened when x-rays showed that their patient’s windpipe and spinal column were undamaged. His youth and excellent physical condition also worked in Shaw’s favor. Against the odds, Shaw’s condition responded to treatment and he slowly recovered. But he would carry shotgun pellets in his neck for the remainder of his life.

In time, one happy byproduct of Shaw’s hospital stay effected a change in his domestic situation. Among his bedside attendants was a young nurse named Anne Marie Franey. Sometime after Jim’s discharge, he and his nurse began dating. They married after the 1916 season and eventually had four children: Jane (born 1918), James Jr. (1919), Leo (1922), and Howard (1926).

Back to the game, both accounts say Shaw was hit harder than Cicotte throughout the affair, but Shaw found ways to sidestep crooked numbers. He gave up one run on an Eddie Collins double in the third, but the Senators put an unearned run on his tab in the sixth that decided the game.

With runners on the corners and two outs, Ray Schalk let himself get caught far off first base, hoping to start a rundown that would get Chick Gandil home. It shouldn’t have worked, according to the Tribune:

They almost had Schalk cornered and Gandil was nowhere near home when [Joe] Judge, in trying to make a bluff throw, let the ball slip out of his hand. Before it could be recovered Chick registered the winning tally and Schalk went all the way to third, where he perished.

That gave the White Sox nine wins in their last 10 games. They trailed the Red Sox by a half-game due to percentage points at this time, but held an advantage of seven games in hand.

Record: 23-13 | Box score