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Sports Contributor Archive 2019
Jerry Hairston achieves a rare Day in History two-fer, with two notable achievements in the 1980s.
Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images

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Today in White Sox History: April 15

The best pinch-hitter in White Sox history basks in two of his greatest achievements


The White Sox helped reintroduce Major League Baseball to Baltimore (in front of a crowd of 46,354) for the first time since 1902, as they played the new Baltimore Orioles in the first-ever game at Memorial Stadium (the franchise had moved from St. Louis that offseason). Virgil Trucks got the start for the White Sox, but the O’s won, 3-1, on the afternoon, starting a run of numerous unfortunate, strange and bizarre happenings at Memorial Stadium over the next 37 seasons.


The first labor impasse to cause regularly-scheduled games to be cancelled had caused Opening Day of the 1972 season to be pushed back. Thus in the first game of the new season was in Kansas City, where the Sox lost to the Royals, 2-1, in 11 innings despite Dick Allen’s first White Sox home run. Allen blasted a shot in the ninth inning off Dick Drago to give the team a brief, 1-0 lead. Kansas City tied the game with two outs in the ninth inning on a Bob Oliver home run off of Wilbur Wood, then go on to win the game.

The Sox dropped three consecutive one-run games to the Royals to start the season, two in extra innings, but ended up with 87 wins in 154 games and battle the eventual World Series champion Oakland A’s until the end of September.


Former Cubs pitcher Milt Wilcox had his perfect game ruined with two outs in the ninth inning when White Sox pinch-hitter Jerry Hairston ripped a clean single up the middle. It was the only hit of the night for the Sox, who lost to Detroit, 6-0. Hairston’s hit marked just the third time in major league history that a perfect game was broken up with just one out left. Billy Pierce was one of the other two pitchers to have that happen to him, when he lost his to the Senators on June 27, 1958.


In a game at Boston, pinch-hitter Jerry Hairston collected his 51st safety in that role, setting a White Sox all-time record. Jerry would lead the league in pinch-hits from 1983-85 and retired with 87 total in his career. He also hit the last home run to set off Bill Veeck’s original exploding scoreboard in October 1981 — a grand slam off of future Sox pitching coach Don Cooper!


Future White Sox bullpen coach Juan Nieves tosses the first no-hitter in Milwaukee Brewers history, defeating the Baltimore Orioles, 7-0. Nieves was a pitching coach in the White Sox minors from 1999-2007, then worked under Don Cooper as the bullpen coach on the South Side from 2008-12. He also appeared as Francisco Delgado in the 1999 Kevin Costner baseball film For the Love of the Game.


It was an all-time great defensive play.

In the ninth inning of a game at U.S. Cellular Field against Toronto, Sox second baseman Tadahito Iguchi had to charge in on a slowly-hit ball by Bengie Molina. Iguchi’s momentum carried him forward, forcing him to leave his feet and start to fall to the ground. Before he hit the field, though, he got a throw off, despite being parallel to the ground. His throw was strong enough to get Molina at first.

The Sox won the game, 4-2.

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