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Sox Century: Sept. 14, 1917

With the White Sox holding a large lead, World Series tickets are the talk of the town

A headline from the Sept. 15 edition of the Chicago Tribune.

Because they had eight games in hand on the Boston Red Sox, the White Sox got the benefit of a four-day break in September. Being three games up in the loss column gave every Boston defeat more weight.

Sure enough, while the White Sox were idle, the Red Sox lost three of four games, and tied another. Chicago’s position improved dramatically while doing nothing.

Through Sept. 9:

  1. White Sox, 91-47
  2. Red Sox, 80-50, 7 GB

Through Sept. 13:

  1. White Sox, 91-47
  2. Red Sox, 81-53, 8 GB

The Sox could start thinking ahead. The Sept. 11, 1917 edition of the Chicago Tribune had a story about World Series tickets, with American League President Ban Johnson saying the prices would be reduced from the previous season.

“The new scale will be simply this,” said Mr. Johnson. “Seats will be just double in price over those prevailing during the playing season. If Chicago win the American pennant Comiskey will have 7,000 bleacher seats at 50 cents, 5,000 pavilion seats at $1, and the entire grand stand, reserved, for $1.50. Box seats will cost $5.”

Those prices adjusted for inflation in 2017 dollars:

  • Bleacher seats: $9.09
  • Pavilion seats: $18.19
  • Grandstand: $27.28
  • Box seats: $90.93

With the prices set, Johnson said he received a “flood of requests” for World Series tickets, but said he would favor requests from Chicago first, saying in a Tribune story on Sept. 13, “The fans in San Francisco, Portland, and Honolulu contribute practically nothing toward the support of major league baseball.”

Of course, the White Sox weren’t entirely inactive, thinking about the World Series. They played a few exhibition games to make some money, beating Beloit on Sept. 10, Fort Wayne on Sept. 11 and Milwaukee on Sept. 12. Eddie Cicotte and Red Faber got a breather, with Joe Benz, Mellie Wolfang, Lefty Williams and Dave Danforth picking up the innings instead.

When regulation games resumed, the White Sox continued regulating. They traveled to Detroit and topped the Tigers with a 7-3 victory.

The game was tied at 2 through five. Detroit grabbed a quick 1-0 lead off Eddie Cicotte by converting on a leadoff double. After the White Sox went ahead in the third with a two-run Chick Gandil triple, Ty Cobb tied it up with his legs in the fourth. He walked, stole second, took third on an infield single and scored on a groundout.

Eddie Collins had pretty good wheels himself, though, and he had an answer for Cobb in the sixth. From the Tribune:

Eddie Collins broke the tie that existed in the sixth with some clever agility on the base lines, following his own two base hit. He stole third cleanly. [Joe] Jackson hit sharply to [second baseman Ralph] Young, who came up with the ball and saw Collins make a bluff at going to home on the play. Collins stopped within safe retreating distance and Young ran in, holding the ball until close to Eddie. The runner then mae a quick break for the plate with Young in hot pursuit. It was a short race and Collins won it, sliding safely home without being touched.

While this stuff was being pulled Jackson raced around to third in safety and scored when Gandil caromed a single off [Willie] Mitchell’s shins. That play really settled the argument.

Neither this story nor the Chicago Examiner explains why the ball wasn’t thrown home.

However it happened, the Sox took a 4-2 lead, then piled on three more in the eighth. Collins again led the charge, singling, stealing second, moving to third on a Jackson bunt and scoring on a Gandil single.

Collins looked more like his old self in September after what was a down year for the first five months. He went 3-for-5 with two steals and two runs scored, and Gandil had the most success cashing him in, going 3-for-4 with four RBIs.

With a big lead, Cicotte cruised to the finish. He allowed three hits and a run in the ninth after allowing just four hits over the first eight inning. That inflated his ERA all the way to 1.58, but he got his 25th win to show for it just the same.

The Red Sox were able to stanch the bleeding with a 6-5 win over the Yankees, but that merely held the White Sox’ lead at eight games with a little over two weeks to play.

Record: 92-47 | Box score