The worst White Sox team in history began their forgettable season by getting pounded, 12-0, at home by the Twins before just 11,473 fans. Starting pitcher Tommy John only lasted into the fifth inning by giving up six runs (five earned). The Sox would go on to lose a franchise-record 106 games and before the season ended saw the GM, manager and a number of front office people fired by owner John Allyn.
A’s owner Charlie Finley got the first regularly-scheduled Opening Day doubleheader in history, but was stunned when the White Sox swept Oakland at the Coliseum, 6-5 and 12-4.
Tommy John and Bart Johnson were the winning pitchers. The Sox clubbed five home runs on the day, including a grand slam by Bill Melton. It should have been six homers, but Carlos May somehow missed touching home plate on his blast. (A’s catcher Gene Tenace picked up on it, and tagged May out when he was sitting in the dugout. It went as a two-run triple in the scorebooks.)
This was also Harry Caray’s first regular-season game in the booth for the White Sox, although at the time not a whole lot of folks could hear him. Three straight awful seasons caused the Sox to lose their radio contract with any mainstream Chicago station. For the next two years, games were broadcast on WTAQ (LaGrange) and WEAW (Evanston), two low-powered stations, along with other smaller stations throughout the area.
On Opening Day in Texas, Mike Andrews became the first White Sox DH, hitting sixth in the lineup. He went 1-for-3 in a 3-1 win behind Wilbur Wood. Andrews got off to such a blazing start that Sports Illustrated wound up doing a story on him in his role as DH. He was hitting better than .300 through mid-May, but then reality set in. Andrews was released by the team in August after refusing to sign a contract extension, and he’d wind up with the A’s for the remainder of the season. In the World Series that year, owner Charlie Finley tried to “fire” Andrews (after he’d made two costly errors) by claiming he was injured, but commissioner Bowie Kuhn blocked any in-Series personnel moves.
The White Sox introduced American League baseball to Canada, as they played the first-ever game in Toronto Blue Jays history. The Jays outslugged the Sox in a snowstorm at Exhibition Stadium to win, 9-5.
But the White Sox would be on to something much bigger, in slugging out five runs in the snow: The South Side Hit Men were born. Richie Zisk hit the first Sox home run of the season, in the first inning. The club would blast 191 more of them in 1977, with nine players hitting at least 10.
An overflow crowd of 50,754 fans — the 18th-largest home attendance in White Sox history — see the White Sox defeat Boston, 6-5, in a thriller.
Trailing 5-4 heading into their last bats, big offseason acquisition Ron Blomberg drilled a one-out home run to deep right field, tying the game. After a single from Chet Lemon and a fly out, Wayne Nordhagen doubled home Lemon to complete the comeback win.
The White Sox would win four of their first five and hold first place for five days before the season came crashing down to finish 71-90. It was a reverse of 1977’s inspiring 90-win South Side Hit Men, and indicated to owner Bill Veeck he would not be able to compete in modern-era baseball.
Detroit’s Jack Morris threw the last no-hitter at the original Comiskey Park when he shut down the White Sox, 4-0, on the NBC Saturday “Game of the Week.” The Sox had their chances — including loading the bases on walks in the fourth inning with nobody out — but Morris rallied to retired Greg Luzinski on a double play and then got Ron Kittle to strike out.
For the White Sox, they’d be on to something just as bad, following up a 99-win, division-winning season with a flat, under-.500 campaign.
On his first swing of the season, future Hall-of-Famer Carlton Fisk blasted what would turn out to be the final home run of his career. It would come off of Minnesota’s Jim Deshaies in the third inning, the only run scored by the White Sox in a 6-1 loss. Fisk would be released by the Sox in June and finish with 376 home runs (214 in a White Sox uniform), at the time both the club and major league record for a catcher.
In the annual “Crosstown Classic” charity game between the White Sox and Cubs, Michael Jordan wrote his name into Sox lore. His double in the late innings tied the game and prevented the Sox from losing for the first time in this series. Jordan had two hits and drove in two runs in the game, which ended in a 4-4 tie at Wrigley Field.
The Sox ended up going 10-0-2 in this series, which lasted from 1985-95. (Two games were played in 1995.)