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Sox Century: Aug. 25, 1917

The White Sox honor Clark Griffith, then beat his ace

Clark Griffith
Bain News Service / Library of Congress

For the second time in as many (regulation*) games, a large military contingent showed up at Comiskey Park to march before the White Sox’ contest against the Senators, and pack the grandstands during.

(*Because off days were seldom truly "off" in 1917, the White Sox' B-team made a trip to Peoria for a doubleheader, where it dispatched with the local Peoria Central League team by a score of 8-4. Swede Risberg was the only starter to make an appearance, although Joe Benz and Jim Scott were fairly prominent pitchers.)

While the soldiers weren’t quite as numerous as the official Military Day two days prior, the festivities were just as involved, because the White Sox also paid tribute to Clark Griffith before taking on his squad. Griffith loomed large in the White Sox’ 16-year-old history. He went 24-7 with a 2.67 ERA as the No. 1 starter and manager of the inaugural edition of the White Sox, who went on to win the American League in its first year of existence.

Griffith, in turn, paid tribute to the troops, according to the Chicago Examiner:

Just before the game started the baseball paraphernalia was distributed to the soldiers and sailors at the home plate, the presentations being made by Manager Griffith himself. The players of both teams assisted Griffith. Then the ball yard was turned over to the athletes for their daily grind.

All in all, 28,000 were in attendance, and the Examiner’s Larry Woltz called it “the greatest day ever held on the South Side.”

That’s probably embellishment, but hey, the White Sox did snap Walter Johnson’s nine-game winning streak.

The Big Train rolled into this start resembling his old self after a difficult start to his 1917 campaign. He was 9-0 with 1.21 ERA over 67 innings during this stretch, including a one-hitter against these White Sox. And actually, he managed to lower his ERA during another complete-game effort.

The problem for Johnson was that he allowed four runs, and while all of them were unearned, he dropped a 4-1 decision to Red Faber just the same.

Johnson wasn’t on top of his game, either, as his worst moments tended to line up with defensive miscues.

The Sox scored the first run without a hit in the fourth. Eddie Collins made it to second on a throwing error, after which he took third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a wild pitch.

Likewise, Swede Risberg started the seventh by reaching on an error, and he came around to score after a sac bunt and a two-out Nemo Leibold double. Because Johnson should have been out of the inning, the next two runs were unearned, even though Johnson suffered the blows -- an infield single by Fred McMullin, a Collins single to right that scored Leibold, and a double steal that scored McMullin.

That gave the Sox a 4-0 lead, and so Faber didn’t have to sweat when his defense briefly failed him in the ninth. He could have had a shutout, but the Senators strung together two of their five hits with a dropped fly by Leibold that enabled a sac fly to break up the blanking.

Even with the late stumble, Faber still outpitched Johnson with room to spare.

  • Faber: 9 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
  • Johnson: 8 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 K

Record: 76-46 | Box score