@SOXNERD RANDOM RELIC: HE PLAYED FOR THE SOX?

Tony Pena was with the White Sox long enough in 1997 for me to secure this autograph picture.

Pena hit .164 with eight RBI in 31 games for the Sox before being dealt to Houston for a minor leaguer.

The four-time Gold Glove winner and five-time All-Star is among a legion of players who caught for the Sox but are better known for their time with other teams.

This list also includes but is not limited to Charles Johnson, Mike LaValliere, Pat Borders, Don Slaught, Charlie O’Brien, Toby Hall, Bob Melvin and Sandy Alomar Jr.

SO CLOSE TO A BIZARRE WHITE SOX RARITY

Ross Detwiler throws to first to end an inning without facing a batter on Aug. 3, 2020 in Milwaukee.

In the end, it was just another appearance in what is shaping up to be a nice season for White Sox pitcher Ross Detwiler.

For a while, though, it looked like Detwiler would join an small group of Sox pitchers to accomplish the “arcaniest” of feats.

It is these bizarre enclaves of stats and feats that fuel me going during a game.

They also reinforce two things about baseball that I love: Every player, no matter how obscure, holds some sort of record or distinction …

And …

In every game, no matter how mundane, something incredibly unique can happen.

This journey to the center of my nugget-creating mind began when Detwiler entered with a runner on first and two outs in the sixth inning on August 3rd in Milwaukee.

Detwiler ended the frame without facing a batter.

Detwiler induced Ben Gamel into a caught stealing after first baseman Jose Abreu took the southpaw’s pickoff throw and relayed it to second to get the third out.

My @SoxNerd sense started to tingle immediately.

How many Sox pitchers have had an appearance where they recorded at least one out without facing a batter?

I enthusiastically headed to the sortable database at baseballreference.com (my best on-line friend) in search of the answer.

As usual, my pal delivered.

Baseballreference.com told me Detwiler would be the seventh Sox twirler (eighth time) to finish an appearance of at least one-third of an inning without facing a batter.

Things got more interesting as I was unearthing this precious gem.

The Sox had tied the game and could have taken the lead with Detwiler and his zero batters faced as the pitcher of record.

That would have put Detwiler in line for a win without facing a batter.

That feat would have whittled the original list from eight to … TWO!

The research game can be just as humbling and unforgiving as the game of baseball.

At about the same time, the list of two popped up, the Sox were retired in the seventh, leaving the game tied and taking the Detwiler victory without facing a batter out of the equation.

Then the other possibility blew up when Detwiler came out for the seventh.

Just to rub it in, the Sox scored in the next half to put Detwiler in position to earn the win, which he did.

This isn’t the first time I had dirt bulldozed on a Sox archeological dig.

In fact, it has happened many times.

https://soxnerd.wordpress.com/2019/09/01/a-sox-triple-1-putout-inning-so-close/

The most frustrating, though, may have occurred on Aug. 25, 2019 when Reynaldo Lopez foiled his own chance to take a solitary spot in Sox history.

Lopez was on the brink of becoming the only pitcher in the 119-year history of the Chicago American League Ball Club to record three putouts in one inning.

After snaring a liner and covering first (and hitting a batter), Lopez had the nerve to strikeout Texas’ Rougned Odor swinging to end the inning and his shot at Sox exclusivity.

The baseballreference.com listing of White Sox pitchers who were credited with one-third inning without facing a batter.

Oh … If Detwiler had finished his one-out appearance without facing a batter he would have joined Chris Volstad on June 3, 2018; Damaso Marte on April 30 and May 21, 2005; Sean Lowe on June 10, 2000; Lerrin LaGrow on May 29, 1977; Biggs Wehde on Aug. 3, 1931 and Hal McKain on July 25, 1929 as the only Sox pitchers to accomplish the feat.

Of that group only Volstad and McKain — the first and last to do it — earned victories.

These near misses won’t discourage me.

I WILL KEEP LOOKING FOR THE ARCANE AND THE OBTUSE AND I WILL KEEP DIGGING!

Now, about Sox homers during a pandemic …

@SOXNERD RANDOM RELIC: YOU CAN’T THE PLAYERS …

Mrs. SoxNerd and I have always integrated baseball into the lives of our two girls.

There was no choice in the matter because I worked a lot of games so we made a point of having the girls enjoy the game and one of the ways was through scoring.

This is a scorecard our girls and their mom kept from the Sox 6-1 loss to Kansas City at Comiskey Park on July 25, 2000.

Dad was in the board flashing stats, notes and trivia to the 21,091 on hand.

The highlight of the game for the Sox was a home run by Herbert Perry.

The highlight of the contest for the Royals were two home runs by … Jermaine Dye!

@SOXNERD RANDOM RELIC: HALL OF FAME AUTOGRAPH

I took a huge gamble when I asked White Sox Hall of Fame manager Al Lopez for his autograph in the visitors dugout at the 1990 All-Star Game at Wrigley Field.

I do recall there being NO AUTOGRAPHS stamped on the credential issued to me in my role as a sports writer for the Kenosha News.

If I was “caught,” I could have had my credential revoked and then I would have had to have gone home.

I took a gamble and glad I did.

After discussing his presence at the game at the request of American League manager and fellow Tampa native Tony La Russa, I quietly and respectfully asked the man who guided the 1959 White Sox to the World Series for his autograph.

“The Senor” happily took my pen and carefully signed my reporters notebook.

Emboldened by that experience, I later got Sadaharu Oh’s autograph but that’s a story for another day.

Here’s a look back at Lopez’s 1959 pennant winners:

–Franchise’s 59th team went 94-60 under Lopez in winning the club’s fourth pennant

–Billy Pierce went the distance and Al Smith hit a two-run homer as the Sox moved into first place for good with a 4-3 win over the Yankees before 43,829 at Comiskey Park on July 28, 1959

–Gerry Staley used his only pitch to induce a  game-ending DP as the White Sox clinched their first pennant in 40 years with a 4-2 win at Cleveland on Sept. 22, 1959

–1959 White Sox spent 94 days in first place in winning the franchise’s first pennant in 40 seasons

–Sox dropped the 1959 World Series in six games to the Los Angeles Dodgers

–The 1959 Sox set a franchise and Chicago baseball record (since broken) with a home attendance of 1,423,144

–The 1959 Sox set a franchise record (broken by the 1977 Sox) with a .741 winning percentage (20-7) in July

–The 1959 Sox tied the 1916 and 1920 team’s record with 22 wins in July (tied by the 1977 Sox)

–The 1959 Sox set a franchise record (since broken by the 1983 team) with a .671 second-half winning percentage

–Shortstop Luis Aparicio led the A.L. with 56 steals, won a Gold Glove, represented the Sox at both All-Star Games and finished second to teammate Nellie Fox in the MVP voting in 1959

–Luis Aparicio tied the franchise record with a league-leading 56 steals in 1959

–Dick Donovan escaped bases load jam in the eighth and retired all five men he faced in earning the save in Sox 1-0 win over the Dodgers in Game 5 of the 1959 World Series before 92,706 at the Los Angeles Coliseum

–Second baseman Nellie Fox was the American League MVP and a Gold Glove winner for the 1959 Sox

–Ted Kluszewski was –3-for-5 with two homers and five RBI in the White Sox 11-0 win over the Dodgers in Game 1 of the 1959 World Series at Comiskey Park

–Jim Landis led the 1959 Sox with seven triples, 78 walks, 13 sacrifices and nine sacrifice flies

–Sherm Lollar led the 1959 White Sox with a career-high 22 home runs and 84 RBI and was a Gold Glover behind the plate

–Turk Lown led the American League with 15 saves and 37 games finished for the 1959 White Sox

–Bob Shaw was 18-6 with a 2.69 ERA in 47 games (26 starts) for the 1959 White Sox

—Bob Shaw led the A.L. with a .769 winning percentage in finishing third in the Cy Young voting and 20th in the MVP voting for the 1959 Sox

–Gerry Staley led the American League with 67 appearances, 15 saves and 37 games finished for the 1959 White Sox

–Early Wynn led the A.L. with 22 wins and posted a 3.17 ERA in winning the Cy Young Award for the 1959 White Sox

—Early Wynn started and threw seven shutout innings for the win in White Sox 11-0 victory over the Dodgers in Game 1 of the 1959 World Series at Comiskey Park

@SOXNERD RANDOM RELIC: WHAT A RUN!

My late father (in blue) underwent a lifestyle change in the 1980s which included a jogging regimen.

He liked it and eventually started running competitively and one of those competitions led him to a 5-K at Comiskey Park in September of 1986.

I was working the game and was there to greet him at the finish line at the park where he took me to my first baseball game 16 years earlier.

As he approached the finish line, I had White Sox photographer Tony Inzerillo take his picture.

I am so glad I did.

At age 56, my dad finished the race in 26 minutes, 58 seconds (according to his notation on the back of the photo).

As with every day of my life continuing to this day, I was so proud to be his son.

White Sox nuggets