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Harry Caray and Mary Shane
An invitation from Harry Caray (left) led to Mary Shane’s brief-but-historic career calling games on the South Side.

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Today in White Sox History: April 12

A groundbreaking broadcast debut, along with some milestone homers

1955

Two figures who helped saved the White Sox in Chicago had milestone home runs.

Pinch-hitting for starter Warren Spahn in the bottom of the eighth with his Milwaukee club trailing the Cincinnati Redlegs, 2-1, Chuck Tanner hits his first career home run — in his first-ever at-bat! Milwaukee would go on to win the game, 4-2.

A decade later, the superstar who Tanner helped convince to come play on the South Side, Dick Allen, hit the first regular-season home run at the Astrodome. The reigning Rookie of the Year blasted a two-run shot in the third inning to account for all of the scoring in Philadelphia’s 2-0 win.


1966

The White Sox opened the season with a 3-2 win over the Angels in 14 innings. Tommy McCraw delivered the game-winning hit. Rookie Tommie Agee cracked a home run off Dean Chance to begin his season, which would end with Agee being named the Rookie of the Year and the first Sox player to ever hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in the same season.

But the game became known for what the 28,175 fans sang to open the afternoon ... it was not ‘‘The Star Spangled Banner’’ but ‘‘God Bless America.’’ The Sox made the change because, as GM Ed Short said, “the fans just weren’t singing.” The White Sox wanted a patriotic song that carried the spirit, but also something fans could actually sing.

Songwriter Irving Berlin (“White Christmas”) wrote a letter to the Sox, begging them to go back to the original Anthem. The Sox then decided to let the fans vote on which they preferred: ‘‘The Star Spangled Banner’’ won.


1967

The bittersweet 1967 season opened with a 5-4 loss in Boston, to the eventual American League champions. Boston scored four early runs off of Johnny Buzhardt, and the White Sox were never able to catch up.

The White Sox would go into the final week of the season in position to take their first pennant since 1959 ... only to lose five in a row to bottom-feeders Kansas City and Washington, which ended that dream. They finished in fourth place, three games out, with a record of 89-73.


1977

Former high school teacher and Milwaukee radio broadcaster Mary Shane became one of the first female announcers in MLB history, making her debut on White Sox games. Mary joined Lorn Brown, Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall in the booth for roughly 20-35 games.

Caray had invited Shane to join him in the booth when the Sox were in Milwaukee in 1976 and Shane was covering sports for a Milwaukee radio station. He was taken by the fact that she was a rare female working in the business and not only asked her to join him, but shocked Shane by asking her to do some play-by-play. She worked with him again the next day, then that off eason got a call from WMAQ radio general manager Charlie Warner with a job offer.

Shane only lasted the 1977 season. She returned to Massachusetts, where she became an award-winning sportswriter covering the Celtics, before passing away at 42, on Nov. 3, 1987.


2003

The 0-9 Tigers used a three-run homer from Shane Halter to beat the White Sox for their first win of the season. Detroit was the only team since 1900 to start two straight seasons with at least nine losses. In 2002, the Tigers started 0-11.


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