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Sox Century: July 31, 1917

A freak home run knocks the White Sox back into a tie atop the American League

Harry Hooper
Bain News Service / Library of Congress

On July 25, the White Sox held a five-game lead over the Boston Red Sox.

By the end of the month, it was gone.

The Red Sox handed the White Sox another loss at Fenway Park, and this one was an acutely painful one. Not only did the White Sox lose 5-2, but they lost with Eddie Cicotte on the mound, and with Cicotte holding a 2-0 lead before he threw a pitch.

A freak play made the difference. With two on and two outs in the first inning, Harry Hooper lined a single to right. Or at least it should have been a single, according to the papers. The Chicago Examiner’s account:

Two men got to base on hits and then with two dead Hooper lined a single over first base. The ball curved over toward the fence, Jack Collins sought it and was about tp ick it up when it rolled up his arm and came down on the other side of the barrier for a home run. It netted three tallies and the ballgame.

That’s a hard way to fall behind, but whether Cicotte could have held a 2-1 lead is a legitimate question, because the Red Sox hit him hard all game. He gave up 11 hits and a walk over seven innings, Boston tacked on single tallies in the fourth and seventh innings, and the White Sox needed to play errorless defense to limit the damage.

Dutch Leonard encountered similar struggles early for Boston, allowing RBI singles to Eddie Collins and Happy Felsch, but he tightened up his game and held the Sox to just two hits over the next seven innings.

The “bleached Sox” finally rediscovered some success in the ninth inning, only to be undermined by a rather bizarre TOOTBLAN.

Felsch kept hopes alive with a two-out single, and ended up on third after a single by Chick Gandil. For whatever reason, Gandil tried to start a double steal ... even though there were two outs, and even though he didn’t even represent the tying run. He was thrown out easily to end the game.

In terms of games, the Red Sox pulled even with the White Sox. In terms of winning percentage, Boston nosed ahead, .628 to .622. Chicago had four games in hand, but now that worked against them. Entering August, the White Sox had fallen into a brand new season, one with only two teams.

Record: 61-37 | Box score