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Today in White Sox History: May 31

No-hitters, trades, fights, injuries ... about what you’d expect at the one-third mark of the season

Don Buford Anticipating the Ball
When Don Buford returned to Comiskey Park in 1971, he got a very unpleasant welcome back from a fan.


Joe “The Butcher Boy” Benz, (so named because that’s what he did in the offseason) fired a no-hitter, beating Cleveland 6-1 at Comiskey Park. The lone run was unearned in the fourth inning because of three White Sox errors. Benz walked two and struck out three on the day.


White Sox GM Frank Lane made a six-player deal with the Senators and included former All- Star second baseman Cass Michaels (real name Casimir Kwietniewski) in it. The move was important because it cleared the way for a youngster named Nellie Fox to take over full-time at the position.


The torpid White Sox, on their way to the worst single season in franchise history, annihilated the Red Sox in Boston, 22-13. The Sox banged out 24 hits, with Bill Melton knocking in four. The victim that afternoon? None other than former White Sox star pitcher Gary Peters! It was the second-most runs ever scored in a single game by the franchise.


In the second game of a doubleheader with the Orioles at Comiskey Park, former White Sox infielder Don Buford charged pitcher Bart Johnson with his bat after Johnson drilled him with a pitch in his behind in the eighth inning. Cooler heads prevailed, but in the ninth inning while standing in the on-deck circle lecturing a fan, Buford was attacked from behind by a second fan, who ran across the field. He was alerted by White Sox players yelling from the field since they could see what was happening. Buford knocked the fan out with one punch, then his Oriole teammates charged out of the dugout and did a bloody number on him.

The teams split the doubleheader that afternoon.


It was an inauspicious debut for a player who’d make himself into a fine big-league hitter. In a game at Chicago, Brian Downing had just entered the game in the seventh inning, making his major league debut. On his first play in the big leagues, Downing caught a foul pop off of the bat of Detroit’s Dick McAuliffe, diving to make the catch. On the play, Downing tore up his knee and had to be placed on the disabled list.

Downing would collect his first big league hit in August, an inside-the-park home run off of Mickey Lolich in Detroit.