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Sox Century: Sept. 20, 2017

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The White Sox won the coin flip for the World Series before they’d won the American League

New York Giants President Harry Hempstead
Bain News Service / Library of Congress

While the White Sox had not yet clinched, Chicago continued to prepare to host the World Series — or “World’s Series,” as the newspapers called it back in the day.

The New York Giants had already clinched, so baseball didn’t wait for the White Sox to make it official before determining which team would host which games. Giants President Harry Hempstead was allowed to call the coin toss for home-field advantage before the National Commission, which was a three-person office that preceded the creation of the Commissioner of Baseball position.

Both the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Examiner relayed the same story.

Hempstead called “heads.” The first coin flip, conducted by Detroit Tigers owner Frank Navin, landed “tails,” but only after reaching the floor beneath the table on which it was flipped. Hempstead protested the result, saying the result was only valid if it happened in plain sight of everybody. Navin tried again, and again the coin fell on the floor tails-side-up. Hempstead protested, and precedent ruled.

Navin’s third flip stayed on the table, and it also stayed on “tails.” The American League won home-field advantage, and Charles Comiskey was notified of his good fortune, even though the White Sox hadn’t officially clinched the pennant.

Then again, there wasn’t much reason to worry about a jinx, because the White Sox’ progress hadn’t slowed. Facing the Athletics in Philadelphia, the Sox erased a 3-0 deficit with a three-run eighth, then scored two in the top of the 11th for a 5-3 victory.

The battery played the part of the hero. Dave Danforth relieved Lefty Williams and threw four scoreless innings, and Ray Schalk provided him the winning margin with a two-run single with two outs in the 11th.

The victory closed out the season series with Philadelphia, which the White Sox won, 15-7. From here, they headed to Boston to finish up business with their nearest rival.

While the White Sox outlasted the A’s, the Red Sox were being shut out by the Tigers. The combination of the win and the loss reduced the magic number to two, meaning the White Sox only had to beat Boston once to clinch the American League pennant. They’d get three chances at Fenway Park to stamp their ticket.

Record: 96-49 | Box score