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Sox Century: June 15, 1917

Lefty Williams throws a four-hitter as White Sox take opener against defending champions

Claude “Lefty” Williams
Bain News Service / Library of Congress

The Yankees never got their chance to give the White Sox a Flag Day flogging the New York press awaited. Rain took hold of the proceedings three innings into the first game at the Polo Grounds and wouldn’t let up before the White Sox had to leave town.

While the teams tried to wait it out, Buck Weaver channeled Mark Buehrle -- or, since it was four score and seven years before Buehrle became a fixture on the White Sox, the other way around. From the Chicago Tribune:

The only amusement furnished for the crowd was a unique slide executed by our Buck Weaver. After the rain had been coming for a half hour and still was coming, and the field was like a lake in spots, Weaver decided to go to the clubhouse. He took off his shoes and stockings and lit out across the long field barefooted, while the crowd yelled. Away down in deep center Buck hit a lake of water, his feet shot out, he went up in the air, and then slid about twenty feet, plowing a furrow through the pool, while the crowd screamed in delight.

So the club headed to Boston for an even more hotly anticipated series between the American League’s two best teams.

Contrary to the series before, this wasn’t much of a contest. After two hard-fought, trash-talking extra-inning affairs with the Yankees, Lefty Williams gave his White Sox a breather at Fenway Park. The irregularly used starter threw a four-hit shutout while the White Sox pasted three Boston pitchers in a 7-0 rout.

While he received ample support, Williams was the story. He flirted with a no-hitter through seven before Sam Agnew led off the eighth with a single to spoil the bid. Williams then gave up three singles in the ninth inning, but he was able to leave the bases loaded to save the shutout.

Ernie Shore was only able to keep the White Sox off the board through three innings before the run on runs. In the fourth, Joe Jackson followed up Eddie Collins’ one-out single in the fourth with an RBI triple. Jackson then scored on a wild pitch to give the White Sox a 2-0 lead.

One inning later, the Sox loaded the bases on Shore with nobody out, and in came Herb Pennock to try to put out the fire. He succeeded in getting one out without a run crossing, but Weaver doubled home two runs, a sac fly by Collins added a run, and so did an RBI single by Jackson.

That gave the White Sox a 6-0 lead, and they’d add one more in the seventh and ninth innings to complete the whitewashing. As the Chicago Examiner put it:

[The White Sox] were right on the enemy’s heels at the outset, and they struck there. More boisterous rooting came from the invaders’ bench than from the entire fan colony and the home coop combined. The White Sox apparently meant business, and the things they couldn’t do on the bench were done, and done well, either in the field or around the home plate. They acted like an aggregation entitled to the lofty perch they now occupy.

Boston wouldn’t let the White Sox go much longer without a fight, though. Literally.

Record: 34-17 | Box score