A White Sox winning streak of 19 games — an American League record that stood alone for 41 years (New York Yankees) and was only surpassed in 2002 by the Oakland A’s (20 games) — began with a 3-0 win over the Boston Americans.
The Hitless Wonders began their streak in fourth place, with a 50-43 record, 7 1⁄2 games out of first. By its 19th straight win, on August 23, the club was 69-43 and 5 1⁄2 games up on the rest of the American League.
Some other facts about the streak:
- The first 11 wins came at home
- The 12th game during the streak was a nine-inning scoreless tie against the New York Highlanders
- The seventh and eighth wins of the streak were walk-off victories in 10 innings
- Only one of the wins during the streak took more than two hours to play (2:05)
- There was a doubleheader sweep during the streak (wins 17 and 18, at New York, on August 22 after a rainout on August 21)
- Ed Walsh won seven games during the streak, Doc White five
- Including five games prior to the start of the streak, the White Sox won 23 of 24 games
- The White Sox went the entire month of August without losing a game by more than two runs (one two-run loss, three one-run losses)
- Despite the streak, the White Sox fell back out of first place twice in September, by as many as two games, before taking the AL lead for good on September 25
A Chicago jury found the eight “Black Sox” players innocent of conspiring to commit fraud by virtue of fixing the 1919 World Series.
The players expected to return to the White Sox, but commissioner Kenesaw Landis permanently banished them — destroying the only team that could have kept pace with the Yankees throughout the 1920s. It also sunk the franchise into a spiral that saw only seven winning seasons between 1921 and 1950.
The players expected to go back to the Sox but then Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis permanently banished them, destroying the only team that could have played with the Yankees throughout the 1920’s. It also sunk the franchise into a spiral that saw only seven winning seasons between 1921 and 1950.
One of the players, Buck Weaver, maintained his innocence until his death and applied for reinstatement many times, without success.
The White Sox and Senators completed a trade, as infielders Tim Cullen and Ron Hansen were exchanged. Why was this notable? Because the same two players were traded for each other, by the same two clubs, on February 13! Cullen and Hansen even wore the same uniform number with the White Sox and had the identical locker location!
Tony La Russa replaced Don Kessinger as White Sox manager. The Tampa native, who had passed the bar exam in Florida, was only 35 years old. He remained White Sox manager until June 1986. La Russa posted winning records in 1981-83 and 1985, and won the Western Division in the 1983 season.
La Russa was fired by GM Ken Harrelson because of basic conflicts on how the team should be run. Owner Jerry Reinsdorf later publicly admitted letting La Russa go was one of the worst mistakes he ever made, and he’d eventually attempt to rectify it by getting La Russa out of retirement to come back as manager for a 2021 season that saw the Sox win the AL Central with 93 victories.
Kessinger, as a player-manager, had the rare experience of having his firing also end his playing career, at age 37.
What would become an incredible weekend in New York started with perhaps the most unusual play in White Sox history.
As a national TV audience watched on NBC, and with pitcher Britt Burns on the mound, Rickey Henderson slammed a double to left-center, over the head of center fielder Luis Salazar. Yankees base runners Bobby Meacham (on second base) and Dale Berra (at first) had different reads on the ball, because it looked like Salazar might have been able to make the catch — or perhaps Reid Nichols, in left.
Meacham went back toward second base to tag up before reversing course, the stumbled running the bases and was nearly passed by Berra, who had taken off sprinting from first base. When the ball finally came to rest on the warning track in deep left field near the 411-foot mark, only about 20 feet separated the two runners. Salazar picked up the ball and fired it to shortstop Ozzie Guillén as Meacham and Berra rounded third. Third-base coach Gene Michael tried to get Berra to hold up, but it was too late. Guillén relayed the ball to catcher Carlton Fisk in plenty of time to tag Meacham, who didn’t slide and instead tried unsuccessfully to knock the ball out of Fisk’s glove.
Fisk did a “matador” on Meacham for the first out of the inning. Meacham did succeed in twirling Fisk around slightly so that he wasn’t facing the field, but the catcher recovered in time to tag Berra, who also did not slide. It was scored an 8-6-2 double play.
That’s two for the price of one at home plate!
To cap things off, the Sox won the game, 6-5, in 11 innings.
In the first game of a doubleheader, first baseman Frank Thomas made his major league debut in Milwaukee. The greatest hitter in franchise history went 0-for-4 in his first game. (The next night, Frank narrowly missed a home run in the seventh inning when his line shot hit the top of the wall in right field and went for a triple, for his first major league hit.) The White Sox ended up sweeping five games from the Brewers that weekend.
A bit of trivia; when Thomas came up with the Sox, he did not wear No. 35. He was No. 15.
Also in the doubleheader opener, Alex Fernandez made his major-league debut, starting the game and going seven innings of five-hit ball, with two earned runs, two walks and four Ks. Ironically, Fernandez had been drafted in the first round in 1988 by the Brewers but did not sign; earlier in the summer, the White Sox made him the No. 4 overall choice and got him to this big-league debut after just eight total minor-league starts.
Fernandez was in line for his first career win, but reliever Barry Jones blew the lead. It was Thomas, with an RBI fielder’s choice grounder in the top of the ninth, that provided the GWRBI in a 4-3 win.
Thomas was the White Sox first-rounder in 1989, and it’s safe to say back-to-back first round picks have otherwise never, before or since, made their debuts in the same game for the team. Thomas would end his White Sox career at 68.3 WAR, second all-time; Fernandez’s 20.3 WAR makes him the 22nd-best franchise pitcher ever.
When White Sox outfielder Charlie Tilson was helped off the field in Detroit he became, incredibly, the fourth player making his major league debut for the club to be injured and not be able to finish the game that season. Previously, catcher Kevan Smith injured his back in pregame warmups and was placed on the injured list, outfielder Jason Coats suffered a cut lip and a mild concussion after a collision, and infielder Matt Davidson broke a bone in his foot running the bases and was placed on the injured list. Tilson tore his left hamstring in this game, also heading to the IL.