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Chicago White Sox Pitcher Claude “Lefty” Williams
Bright star turned tarnished Black Sock Lefty Williams died on this day, 64 years ago.
George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images

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Today in White Sox History: November 4

Two departures, from different walks of life


White Sox pitching standout and central Black Sox World Series fixer Lefty Williams died in Laguna Beach, Calif.

Williams had just six games under his belt (1913-14) with the Detroit Tigers when the White Sox bought him out of the Pacific Coast League, where he’d spent 1915 killing it with the Salt Lake City Bees (33-12, 2.84 ERA in 418 2⁄3 innings pitched). Almost immediately he took on a regular load with the White Sox, averaging 287 2⁄3 innings pitched in his four full White Sox seasons (discounting 1918, part of which was spent in the shipyards as World War I service).

His numbers, though amazing by today’s standards, were average in pre-Live Ball times (for example, his career 3.13 ERA is actually just a 99 ERA+, a step below average). Still, in his two true, full-time starter seasons (1919 and 1920), Williams ran up 9.0 WAR, on the brink of All-Star level play — and at 27 years old, several peak seasons could still have been on the board for Lefty.

However, that all changed, as Williams lost a record three World Series games in 1919 and was unquestionably the player with the biggest impact on the thrown Series. While Williams had a -0.58 WPA for the series that was matched by Swede Risberg, his -24.38% cWPA far outpaced anyone else on the roster; in traditional numbers, the starter went 0-3 with a 6.61 ERA and eight walks against four Ks.

After his suspension by Charles Comiskey and subsequent banishment from baseball in 1921, Williams barnstormed and drank, often at the same time. He we worked in landscaping, and unlike co-conspirator Chick Gandil, never spoke of or professed his innocence over the Black Sox scandal.


“El Señor,” manager Al Lopez, resigned his position with the White Sox for health reasons. Perhaps the greatest manager in franchise history, Lopez had nine winning seasons in his nine full-time years as manager. He won the 1959 American League pennant, and was coming off of back-to-back-to-back 90 or more-win seasons in 1963, 1964 and 1965. The Sox averaged 96 wins per season during that time span, and those seasons remain the strongest three-season stretch in team history. Lopez’s 840 wins are second-most all-time for the White Sox. His 11 years managing in Chicago combined with six in Cleveland earned him induction into the Hall of Fame as a manager in 1977.

Eddie Stanky would be named to replace Lopez on December 14, but Lopez would come back to manage the White Sox in 1968 ... replacing Stanky.


Legendary Chicago Bulls announcer and Chicago native Jim Durham passed away in Tomball, Texas. Durham broadcasted play-by-play for the White Sox in 1988-89 and was a national baseball voice for ESPN Radio from 1998 to 2012.

Durham’s most memorable broadcasting call was for “The Shot” by Michael Jordan that upset the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of the first round of the playoffs in 1989:

The inbounds pass comes in to Jordan. Here’s Michael at the foul line, the shot on Ehlo ... GOOD!


They upset the Cleveland Cavaliers! Michael Jordan hits it at the foul line!

(Kerr: WOOOH!)

101-100! 20,273 in stunned silence here in the [Richfield] Coliseum. Michael Jordan with 44 points in the game hit the shot over Craig Ehlo. What tremendous heroics we have had in Game 5, from both teams, what a spectacular series this has been. In my days in the NBA, 16 years, this is the greatest series I’ve ever seen!

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