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Sox Century: Sept. 21, 2017

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The White Sox win their first American League pennant in 11 years

The White Sox entered today needing a win and a Red Sox loss to clinch the American League pennant.

As luck would have it, they were starting a three-game series with those Red Sox at Fenway Park. A White Sox win would automatically equal a Boston loss, and it would punch their ticket for the World Series for the first time since 1906.

The Red Sox would not go quietly, even if their fans had already resigned themselves to runner-up status. Fewer than 5,000 fans showed up to Fenway to watch Red Faber and Dutch Leonard tangle themselves into a pitchers’ duel. Ray Schalk’s bases-loaded smash off third baseman Larry Gardner drove home one run in the fourth, but Boston tied it up in the seventh with a Harry Hooper triple and a Jack Barry single.

Through nine, you could barely separate one pitcher from the other:

  • Faber: 9 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
  • Leonard: 9 IP 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K

The offenses awoke in the 10th. Schalk led off with a leadoff double, and after Faber failed to bunt him over and struck out, Shano Collins picked up his pitcher with an RBI single to left to put the White Sox ahead 2-1 at 4:35 p.m. (the Chicago Examiner noted the time).

But again, the Red Sox wouldn’t roll over. They put runners on the corners after one-out singles, and Jack Barry went to the bench for a pinch-hitter.

As last resorts go, Babe Ruth is a pretty good one.

He was the last batter of the game, too. The Examiner’s account:

[Ruth] got a hold of one and drove it toward Eddie Collins. Eddie was on the ball like a wildcat, made a sharp peg to [Buck] Weaver, forcing Gardner, and Weaver got the ball away from him in time to double Ruth at first. Ruth slid into the bag and cut [Chick] Gandil on the left ankle. Chick wore shin guards (he always does), and that probably saved him from a serious injury. But it was up to Ruth to slide, and nobody can charge him with a deliberate attempt to main a fellow player.

Even 100 years ago, they were sliding into first base, and while Gandil took the worse of it, the White Sox as a whole came away the victors, sealing their first American League pennant since 1906.

The speed with which the White Sox clinched was the most remarkable aspect of the season. The Red Sox led the league by percentage points as late as Aug. 17, they went 17-14 over their next 31 games, and yet the White Sox still pulled away and won the division with a week and a half to spare thanks to a 27-5 run. The Chicago Tribune said the Sox took satisfaction in the setting:

It was a lively place in the dressing rooms of the White Sox after game. All season the Red Sox have been pounding on the partition between the two clubhouses and yelling whenever they won one from the White Sox. All season the White Sox have dressed quietly. This time they turned loose and nearly pounded the partition down.

The Examiner, which spent a lot of the season on the alarmist side of the coverage, had to tip its cap.

Now, after a struggle which would have discouraged a team less determined Chicago again has a flag winner. At times during the season even the most optimistic of fans practically conceded the flag to Boston; injuries struck the team at its supposedly weakest spots; the sluggers failed to hit up to their accustomed strides until late in the season — but despite all this Manager Rowland has piloted his men to one of the most sensational and victorious finishes in the history of the league.

It was vindication for Rowland, who had plenty of skeptics in the media over his first two seasons with the White Sox. Charles Comiskey was rewarded for staying the course, and he wired a congratulatory message to his skipper, relayed by the Chicago Tribune.

C.H. Rowland, Mgr.,
Champion White Sox,
Brunswick Hotel,
Boston, Mass.:

The fondest hopes of all Chicago and this wonderful legion of White Sox fans as well as myself have come true -- after eleven long years of patient waiting, Our heartiest congratulations are due your team and self for winning the American league pennant, and we are all wishing you Godspeed and good luck in the coming world’s series. Give the club and party as fine a dinner as you can with my compliments.

CHARLES A. COMISKEY

Record: 97-49 | Box score