Doc White’s streak of 45 consecutive scoreless innings was broken when the New York Highlanders got a run in the first inning of the first game of a twin bill in Chicago. White would start both games, winning the first game and dropping the second.
In the heat of a three-team pennant race it may have been the greatest game even thrown by opposing hurlers against one other. Cleveland beat the White Sox, 1-0, as Addie Joss fired a perfect game. (It was the third no-hitter ever thrown against the White Sox, and Joss would also author the fourth!) Meanwhile, Ed Walsh struck out 15 and allowed only four hits, getting the loss.
The winning run scored when catcher Ossee Schreck couldn’t hang on to one of Walsh’s spitters with a man on third.
Despite the loss, the White Sox didn’t lose ground in the race, remaining in third place, 2 1⁄2 games out. Chicago would win its next three straight to move to a half-game of first, but lost to pennant-winner Detroit on the season’s final day. A win in the finale would have left the White Sox tied with (but percentage points ahead of) Cleveland for the 1908 pennant.
An interesting note came before the game. Joss had finished his warmup throws and was strolling in the outfield when he saw Walsh sitting by himself on the Sox bench. He came over, sat next to him, and the two pitchers had a quiet conversation while a photographer snapped their picture.
The White Sox dropped a second straight game in the 1919 World Series, 4-2. Starter Lefty Williams, also in on the fix, walked three batters and gave up what would be a decisive two-run triple to Larry Kopf with two outs in the fourth inning. Catcher Ray Schalk (2-for-4 in the game and gunning down both Reds base-stealers) was so suspicious of Williams’ performance that argued with the pitcher and attacked him in the locker room after the game.
In the morning, before the game, White Sox owner Charles Comiskey and American League president Ban Johnson met to discuss the open secret regarding the World Series fix.
Game 2 of the World Series was looking like a repeat of Game 1. The Sox were leading the Dodgers, 2-1, in the seventh inning with two out when Chuck Essegian and Charlie Neal slugged home runs off of Bob Shaw. Making matters worse was that in the middle of an eighth inning Sox rally, the slowest man in baseball, Sherm Lollar, was waved home with what would have been the tying run on a double by Al Smith; he was out by five feet. Instead of having men on second and third with nobody out, it was a runner on third with one out. The Sox lost the game, 4-3.
Earlier, in the fifth inning, Smith would get a cup of beer dumped on him, knocked over by a fan reaching for Neal’s first home run. It would become one of the most famous photographs of the 1950s.
The White Sox named Ken Harrelson as the new executive vice president of baseball operations, as well as the de facto GM replacing Roland Hemond, who was kicked upstairs as an assistant to owners Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn.
Harrelson, one of the club’s TV broadcasters and former big-league player, claimed he never wanted the job — yet was the only person White Sox ownership spoke to who had a complete plan outlined. As Einhorn said in the press conference announcing the move, “Some people may think of him as a funny guy who wears cowboy hats. We didn`t pick him out of a hat. The man knows baseball and is an excellent judge of talent.’’
The new GM immediately started implementing his vision for the organization. Manager Tony La Russa was offered a one-year contract to return in 1986, but Harrelson fired three of his assistant coaches — including La Russa’s most trusted aide, pitching coach Dave Duncan. Broadcaster and Hall of Fame pitcher Don Drysdale was named as a pitching consultant. Former Sox pitcher Moe Drabowsky was hired as a relief pitching coach. Harrelson also decreed that all Sox minor league coaches were to be former major league players.
He made a series of trades to try to improve a team that won 85 games in 1985. His best was getting outfielder Iván Calderon from Seattle, his worst was trading outfielder Bobby Bonilla to the Pirates for pitcher José DeLeón (although, to be fair, Harrelson had pickpocketed Bonilla from the Pirates in the Rule 5 draft, and his return to Pittsburgh likely came with an IOU for future deals) — and his hoodwinking of the Yankees alone should earn him more plaudits than he’s been given. However, Harrelson also demanded that All-Star catcher Carlton Fisk move to left field to make way for prospect Joel Skinner.
The White Sox went 72-90 in 1986 and Harrelson resigned at the end of the year, replaced by transformative GM Larry Himes.
Reinsdorf later explained the situation surrounding Harrelson’s hiring as GM to the Chicago Tribune: “Eddie [Einhorn] and I would talk to Hawk and [Don] Drysdale at length, and Hawk more so, to identify problems in the organization. We were still neophytes in this business and we were impressed with the way Hawk pointed out our problems. [GM] wasn’t something he really wanted to do, but we urged him to help us out. The mistake was that when you go to a doctor who diagnoses open-heart surgery, you don’t have him do the surgery because he diagnosed the problem — you get a heart surgeon. Just because Hawk was able to diagnose our problems did not mean he could solve them. It was a terrible position to put him in, and a year later, he said he wanted out.”
White Sox starter Chris Sale broke Ed Walsh’s club record for most strikeouts in a season. Sale struck out Detroit’s James McCann, a future Sox catcher, in the second inning of a 2-1 win, which earned Sale his 270th strikeout. Walsh’s record had stood since 1908. Sale would finish the 2015 season with 274 strikeouts.