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Today in White Sox History: April 12

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Two more Opening Days, and a groundbreaking broadcast debut

Harry Caray and Mary Shane
Groundbreaking White Sox broadcaster Mary Shane made her debut with the team 44 years ago.

1966

The White Sox opened the season with a 3-2 win over the Angels in 14 innings. Tommy McCraw delivered the game-winning hit. Rookie Tommy Agee would crack a home run off Dean Chance to begin his season, which would end with Agee being named the Rookie of the Year and the first Sox player to ever hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in the same season.

But the game became known for what the 28,000+ fans sang to open the afternoon ... it was not ‘‘The Star Spangled Banner’’ but ‘‘God Bless America.’’ The Sox made the change stating that the words to the National Anthem were too hard to remember and to sing. Songwriter Irving Berlin (“White Christmas”) would write a letter to the Sox, begging them to go back to the original anthem. The Sox then decided to let the fans vote on which they preferred: ‘‘The Star Spangled Banner’’ won.


1967

The bittersweet 1967 season opened with a 5-4 loss in Boston to the eventual American League champions.

The White Sox would go into the final week of the season in position to take their first pennant since 1959 ... only to lose five in a row to bottom-feeders Kansas City and Washington, which ended that dream. They finished in fourth place, three games out, with a record of 89-73.


1977

Former Milwaukee radio broadcaster Mary Shane became one of the first female announcers in MLB history, as she began doing Sox games. Mary joined Lorn Brown, Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall in the booth for roughly 20 games. Most of her work was done when the Sox were at home.

WMAQ radio general manager Charlie Warner discovered Shane, who only lasted this one season. She returned to Massachusetts, where she became an award-winning sportswriter before passing away at a young age on Nov. 3, 1987.