The 1959 season was filled with marathon games for the White Sox. This was the first one that went at least 17 innings, and every one of them took place against Baltimore.
In this game Earl Torgeson’s solo home run off of Jerry Walker in the last of the 17th was the difference in Chicago’s 6-5 win at Comiskey Park. Bob Shaw pitched five relief innings to get the victory.
It is forever known as the “Chili Dog Game.”
In the second game of a doubleheader against the Yankees, White Sox manager Chuck Tanner wanted Dick Allen to be ready to pinch-hit in the last of the ninth inning if needed. Allen at the time was wolfing down a chili dog because he had played in the first game, was sitting out the nightcap — and was hungry. When Tanner called on him, Allen quickly had to put on a uniform, getting the last of the chili dog all over the top of it — forcing the clubhouse boys to find him a new, clean jersey.
With two men on and Chicago losing, 4-2, Allen stepped to the plate. On the third pitch from future Sox relief pitcher Sparky Lyle, Allen deposited the ball into the left-field lower deck for a 5-4 win and a sweep of the twin bill.
As a side note, future sportscaster Keith Olbermann, a Yankees fan, wrote about listening to this game in a book he co-authored with Dan Patrick: When Allen hit the home run, Olbermann threw his radio out of the second-floor window of his parents’ house.
White Sox pitching ace Wilbur Wood appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. At the time it looked like Wood was on his way to 30 wins, given he already had 13 before June 1. The headline read, “Wizard With a Knuckler.”
But because of a massive number of injuries to the team, Wood would “only” finish with 24 wins. He started 48 times, had an ERA of 3.46 and threw an incredible 359 innings. The 1973 White Sox wound up using the injured list 38 times.
In a game at Comiskey Park versus the Yankees, Richie Zisk hit a rooftop home run near the left field line off of Don Gullett. He became the seventh Sox player to do this. Unfortunately the Sox would lose the game, 8-6.
[This is the first game SSS editor Brett Ballantini ever attended, and he can still picture that ball rising up toward the roof and simply ... disappearing. Magical.]
It is a trade that will live in infamy: GM Rick Hahn sent young hurler Erik Johnson and 17-year-old Fernando Tatís Jr. to San Diego for veteran starter James Shields.
Tatís, the son of a former major league slugger, had been signed less than one year earlier and had yet to play a single game in the White Sox system. Three years after the trade, Tatís was in the major leagues, and now has amassed 13.6 WAR in just a season-and-a-half’s worth of games, is a two-time Silver Slugger and two-time Top 5 MVP finalist. Prior to the 2021 season, Tatís signed a 14-year, $330 million contract extension with the Padres, anointing him as perhaps the premier talent in all of baseball.
It is suspected that Tatís was inserted into the deal to help persuade San Diego to eat some of Shields’ onerous remaining salary; that short-sighted gambit succeeded, as the Padres sent $31 million along with Shields, lowering the White Sox obligation to Shields to $27 million over four years.
Shields’ 5.31 ERA ranks second only to Jaime Navarro for highest in team history among pitchers allowed to throw at least 400 innings for the club. Over 77 games (76 starts), Shields logged a career -0.3 WAR for the White Sox.