The season opener to a memorable, pennant-winning year started in Detroit, where Billy Pierce faced Jim Bunning. The White Sox blew a 7-4 lead when the Tigers got three runs in the eighth inning, and matters weren’t decided until the 14th. That’s when Nellie Fox, who hit home runs as often as he struck out, blasted a two-run shot to give the Sox a 9-7 win. Fox went 5-for-7 and knocked in three runs that afternoon, despite freezing temperatures. Catcher Sherm Lollar had three hits for the Sox, who used seven pitchers in the game.
White Sox outfielder Jim Rivera was always good for the unexpected. Right before the Sox played in Washington to open the season in the first-ever game for the “new Senators,” President John Kennedy threw out the first ball. Rivera came up with it and was escorted to the President’s box, where both Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon Johnson signed the ball.
After Rivera looked at it, he said to the President, “You’ll have to do better than that, John. This is a scribble I can hardly read!” So Kennedy, in block letters, spelled out his name on the baseball.
Oh … the Sox won the game, 4-3, after coming back with single runs in the seventh and eighth innings. It was the first game the Washington Senators played as a new expansion team, as the previous version of the team was moved to Minnesota.
For the White Sox and the country, the old good days were a thing of the past. The social unrest on the West Side of Chicago after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King held the Opening Day crowd at Comiskey Park to fewer than 8,000. The Sox got shut out by Cleveland’s Sonny Siebert, 9-0.
It was the first of a franchise-record 10 straight losses to open the season. They were outscored in that stretch, 42-13, and were shut out three times. Coupled with five straight losses to close out 1967, the White Sox ended up losing 15 regular season games in a row.
Embarrassed after a lackluster Opening Day loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, 10-2, owner Bill Veeck offers fans free admission to the next home game.
If you had written the script and pitched it to Hollywood, it would have been refused on the grounds of corniness — but reality is sometimes stranger than fiction.
Carlton Fisk, native son of New England, returned to play at Boston for the first time, on Opening Day as a member of the White Sox. Fisk was declared a free agent after the Red Sox mailed him his contract late, and he left when White Sox co-owner Eddie Einhorn and GM Roland Hemond immediately contacted Fisk’s agent, Jack Sands, and worked out a seven-year, $2.9 million deal.
With a new team, in a new uniform, Fisk immediately began making Boston pay, as he ripped a three-run home run in the eighth inning off of Bob Stanley to put the White Sox ahead, 3-2, in a game they’d win, 5-3.
The White Sox spoiled Detroit’s home opener with a 5-3 win — and all the runs coming via homer. Joe Crede and Jim Thome slugged two-run blasts, and Paul Konerko a solo shot in support of Freddy García’s 100th career victory.
It is also the second win of a 12-of-13 streak that took the White Sox from fourth place, at 1-4, to first (13-5).