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Today in White Sox History: March 9

What do you know, there was labor strife 50 years ago!

White Sox Park, or Comiskey Park, Home of Chicago White Sox Baseball Team, Chicago, Illinois, USA, 1972
Fifty years ago, White Sox players became the first team in the majors to vote to strike, and keep their ballpark closed, if a new CBA could not be reached.
GHI/Universal History Archive via Getty Images

1927

Popular White Sox outfielder Johnny Mostil attempted suicide in a hotel room in Shreveport, La. Despite razor cuts to his wrist, neck and chest, Mostil survived and returned to the team in April, although he’d only play in 13 games that season.

Mostil suffered a number of injuries in his career, and had severe dental issues and neuritis in his jaw and shoulder; neuritis is an inflamed nerve condition, resulting in sharp and chronic pain, like burning, itching, tingling and prickling. Given the severity of this suicide attempt — and the fact that Mostil plunged his hand into scalding water during his rehab, delaying his return to the White Sox — the star may have been simply trying to end significant suffering, suffering that the medicine of his time could not soothe.

In 10 years with the White Sox, Mostil would hit better than .300 four times, and in two other years, he’d bat over .290. His 23.8 bWAR ranks 21st among batters, and 34th among all players, in White Sox history.

After his career, Mostil was a longtime White Sox scout/coach. He helped develop future players like All-Star and Gold Glove-winning outfielder Jim Landis.


1972

With talks at a standstill between the owners and the MLBPA over a new labor contract focusing on the players’ pension plan, the White Sox became the first team to have their players vote to authorize a strike if things weren’t agreed upon and a new deal put in place. The vote was 31-0. When all was said and done, the final vote of all players was 663-10 to strike if a new agreement wasn’t reached. As it turned out a new agreement wasn’t reached before the first few weeks of the season were impacted, and regular season games were lost for the very first time.


1981

Carlton Fisk signed a free agent deal with the White Sox, beginning the process of turning a laughable organization into a real, legitimate major league franchise. The All-Star catcher and future Hall-of-Famer got his free agency after the Red Sox did not tender him a contract by the required date. Immediately, White Sox co-owner Eddie Einhorn and GM Roland Hemond jumped at the chance to get a player of Fisk’s caliber on to the team.

Fisk would play 13 years on the South Side, make four All-Star teams as a member of the White Sox, and have his No. 72 retired in 1997. When he retired, he also held the team record for most home runs, as well as most home runs in MLB history hit by a catcher. His two best seasons were in 1983 (when he rebounded from a very slow start to hit .289 with 26 home runs and 89 RBIs for the Western Division champions, finishing third in the MVP voting) and 1985, his career season (Fisk hit only .238, but blasted 37 home runs with 107 RBIs).