For the second game of a doubleheader at Sportsman’s Park, the Browns and White Sox used the last day of the season to throw all non-pitchers in their game. White Sox left fielder Sam Mertes got the 10-4 win, beating St. Louis left fielder Jesse Burkett.
First baseman Frank Isbell was the “opener” for the game, pitching one inning of three-hit, two-run ball. Then Mertes took over for the next 7 2⁄3 innings! With just one earned run allowed, Mertes finished the year with a 1.17 ERA; it was the only pitching performance of his career, and earned him 0.2 WAR as a hurler.
Both teams also had unorthodox lineups. St. Louis went bananas, with some players manning four different positions during the course of the game. The White Sox didn’t swap positions in-game, but there were some uncustomary assignments: White Sox two-way player Nixey Callahan, normally a left fielder/pitcher, started at shortstop. Pitcher (and manager) Clark Griffith played left field. And Mertes himself started at catcher, then moved to the mound after one inning.
Oh, and the game ended one out early, with St. Louis fans rushed the field, apparently tiring of the unique exhibition.
For the next 110 years, this remained the only game where both winning and losing pitchers were position players. In 2012, Oriole Chris Davis beat Boston’s Darnell McDonald in a 17-inning game at Fenway Park.
Eight members of the 1919 White Sox Swede Risberg, Chick Gandil, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Buck Weaver, Eddie Cicotte, Lefty Williams, Happy Felsch and Fred McMullin — officially became targets for trial, as a grand jury convened in Chicago to investigate their throwing the 1919 World Series (ending in a White Sox loss, five games to three, to the Cincinnati Reds). The grand jury returned five counts of conspiracy to obtain money by false pretenses and/or via a confidence game against these eight “Black Sox.”
The group was exonerated by a Chicago jury the next summer but were nonetheless banned for life by the baseball commissioner, Kenesaw Landis — who, ironically, was a White Sox fan.
J. Louis Comiskey, son of Charles Comiskey and the new owner of the White Sox, made a move to try to rebuild his franchise: He paid an unheard-of sum (in those days) of $150,000 to the Philadelphia A’s for infielder Jimmy Dykes, outfielder Al Simmons and utilityman Mule Haas.
Simmons would be elected to the Hall of Fame in 1953, and in three seasons with the Sox twice drove in over 100 runs. Dykes played for the White Sox for four full seasons and parts of three others, eventually managing the team for 12 full seasons beginning in 1934, and part of a 13th. He’d have five winning years, and one season at .500 in that time — the longest-tenured and (arguably) best manager in White Sox history.
Dykes also had the distinction of scoring the first-ever run in the All-Star Game, going 2-for-3 in the inaugural 1933 contest.
The White Sox team photo appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, with this headline: “Chicago’s New Champions Sit For Their Portrait.”
Frank Thomas won the AL batting championship, with a .347 average. He joined Luke Appling as the only White Sox player to win a batting title (Tim Anderson won a batting title in 2019).
Thomas was one of only a handful of players in major league history with a batting title and at least 450 home runs to his credit. Thomas was also the largest player (both in height and weight) to ever win a batting crown. He had 184 hits in 530 at-bats in 1997.
White Sox starter Esteban Loaiza recorded his 21st win of the season, beating the Royals, 5-1. The 21 wins tied the major league record for the most wins in a season by a pitcher born in Mexico (Fernando Valenzuela, 1986). Loaiza would finish second in the Cy Young voting that season; two 1-0 losses to a last-place Tigers team probably cost him the award.