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Sox Century: Aug. 23, 1917

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The White Sox outshine the Senators, both in military drills and the game that followed

The Chicago Tribune’s sports page on Aug. 24, 1917.

The crowd at Comiskey Park was largely khaki-colored as the White Sox and Senators entertained around 7,500 soldiers and sailors on Military Day — and maybe tried to impress them, too.

With a draft looming as the United States prepared to enter the Great War, ballplayers had been training with drill sergeants since spring training. At this point, ballplayers had been notified of their draft status and were working through potential exemptions for health or family reasons. American League President Ban Johnson had offered $500 to the team that performed its drills the best, and so both the Sox and Senators put their best feet forward. It sounded like the Sox won for reasons beyond anybody’s control, according to the Chicago Tribune:

Col. Raymond Sheldon, U.S.A. official judge of the American league’s competitive drill for its ball players, then took command of the doings, and the Washington team was first put through its paces under his watchful eye. In order to make as good a showing as possible Manager [Clark] Griffith asked Eddie Foster and Clyde Milan, both of whom were ill yesterday, to keep their places in the drill, but before it was over Foster succumbed and had to be helped off the field. He was suffering with a mild attack of ptomaine poisoning, it was thought. This rather upset the finish of the Griffmen’s exhibition, which was given in baseball uniform and with baseball bats instead of guns.

The White Sox had the home field advantage and were “in regulation khaki and carrying a Springfield rifle,” and blended in well enough to march unsuspected until they revealed themselves to their fans. That helped them outperform the Senators in the eyes of the Tribune, but the Yankees were thought to be the team to beat in this regard.

The Chicago Examiner said the pregame ceremony also included “the raising of the Chicago championship flag, emblematic of last Fall’s victory of the Sox over the Cubs,” as well as marches by the various military units in attendance. The Tribune added that “six bands enlivened the proceedings by a competitive game of their own in which each tried to outdo the other, before and during the game, and each coterie of musicians was cheered on by its respective regiment.”

With this spectacle, the game was more or less an afterthought. Then again, the White Sox removed most of the tension from the game earlier, jumping on Jim Shaw for four in the third and two in the fourth, which represented all the scoring in a 6-0 victory.

The Senators outhit the White Sox 8-6, but Eddie Cicotte scattered those hits over nine innings with the assistance of a couple nifty double plays by Swede Risberg and Eddie Collins.

The White Sox bunched their hits together. In the third, Fred McMullin delivered a sac fly that scored two runs when the throw home got away, and Joe Jackson followed it with a two-run triple. An inning later, Ray Schalk delivered a two-run single to put the Sox six up.

After the fourth, Doc Ayers relieved Shaw and held the Sox hitless over his four innings of work, but the Senators never threatened.

Down in St. Louis, the Red Sox dispatched the Browns with a 4-2 victory, keeping within two games of the White Sox atop the AL standings.

Record: 75-46 | Box score