COUNTDOWN TO WHITE SOX OPENING DAY: 77 DAYS!

Screen shot of the Sox Ralph Garr waiting for the first American League pitch in Canada in 1977

77 days to Opening Day, White Sox fans!

Opening Day No. 77 for the Sox was one of the most interesting in franchise history:

Consider …

*The White Sox 9-5 loss at Toronto on April 7, 1977 was the first American League game in Canada

*The game was played before 44,649 at Exhibition Stadium in absolutely brutal conditions. It snowed before the game prompting the Sox Jack Brohamer to don a pair of snowshoes, which made for a famous photo. The snow continued during the game as well. … Temperature at first pitch was 33 degrees.

*Harry Caray has the distinction of announcing the first Canadian game in both games. In addition to working the Sox at Jays tilt, Harry was behind the mike for the Cardinals for the Montreal Expos in April of 1969

*Richie Zisk ignited the Sox Southside Hitmen season with a homer in his first A.L. at bat

*Pete Vuckovich, plucked by the Jays from the Sox in the Expansion Draft, earned the save for Toronto

*The opened the door of Exhibition Stadium and closed the curtain on the place, too. On May 28, 1989, the Sox lost to the Jays 7-5 in the finale at Exhibition Stadium

The game:

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COUNTDOWN TO WHITE SOX OPENING DAY: 78 DAYS

78 days to Opening Day, White Sox fans!

White Sox Opening Day No. 78 featured the first Opening Day start in the career of Steve Stone.

The assignment was also the first time a right-handed pitcher started on Opening Day for the Sox since 1968. The next righty wouldn’t start until LaMarr Hoyt in 1983.

In the ’78 Opener, Stone got no decision (two earned runs in seven innings) min the Sox 6-5 walkoff win over Boston before 50,754 at Comiskey Park.

COUNTDOWN TO WHITE SOX OPENING DAY: 79 DAYS

79 days to Opening Day, White Sox fans!

“Shoeless” Joe Jackson and Minnie Minoso — two icons of mythic proportions — are tied for sixth in White Sox history with 79 triples.

NOTE — I covered Jose Abreu, the White Sox No. 79, in last year’s countdown post:

https://soxnerd.wordpress.com/2018/01/09/countdown-to-white-sox-opening-day-79-days-2/

By the way, the Marlins’ Isaac Galloway joined Abreu as the only 79s in big league history to hit safely

COUNTDOWN TO WHITE SOX OPENING DAY: 80 DAYS

80 days to Opening Day, White Sox fans!

There’s quite an eclectic gathering tied for 80th in home runs in White Sox history.

I mean, did you ever think Alejandro De Aza, Nellie Fox, Oscar Gamble, Ken Henderson and Chris Singleton would be mentioned in the same breath when it came to Sox history?

They are all logjammed at No. 80 with 35 homers.

Here’s a look at each players most significant Sox homer(s):

*ALEJANDRO DE AZA: On March 31, 2014, De Aza launched two homers in the White Sox 5-3 win over the Twins on Opening Day before 37,422 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Those roundtrippers made him the first Sox player to post a multi-homer game in a home opener since Tim Raines did it in 1994.

De Aza, Raines, Carlos May (1969) and Minnie Minoso (1960) are the only Sox players with a multi-homer game in home opener

*NELLIE FOX: On Opening Day 1959, Fox’s homer in the 14th was the difference in the Sox 9-7 win at Detroit.

The homer was one of 35 Fox would hit in his Hall of Fame career, one of two he would hit in 1959 and the third of four extra-inning shots he would have in his career.

*OSCAR GAMBLE: On Sept. 17, 1977, Gamble hit his 30th homer to set the club single-season record for lefties.

Gamble’s three-run homer off the Angels Dyar Miller allowed him to break the mark set by Eddie Robinson (the fifth-oldest living big leaguer at age 98) in 1951.

Gamble’s game-tying shot, one of 31 he would hit that season, came in a 4-3 loss at Comiskey Park.

*KEN HENDERSON: On Aug. 29, 1975, Henderson became the first player in Sox history to homer from both sides of the plate in a 4-2 win at Baltimore.

Henderson touched Wayne Garland and Ross Grimsley for solo shots for his seventh and eighth homers of the campaign.

https://www.mlb.com/video/singleton-hits-for-cycle/c-543432183

*CHRIS SINGLETON: On July 6, 1999, Singleton needed a home run for the cycle and he got it.

Singleton’s four-bagger in the seventh off Jeff Suppan made him the fourth player in Sox history and first rookie to hit for the cycle. He was also first Sox player to hit for the cycle at New Comiskey Park.

COUNTDOWN TO WHITE SOX OPENING DAY: 81 DAYS

81 days to Opening Day, White Sox fans!

Win No. 81 of Mark Buehrle’s career was an eventful one and … ONE THAT THE @SOXNERD FAMILY WITNESSED.

On Aug. 1, 2005 the left-hander got the win but saw an impressive streak come to an end.

On an unbearably hot and humid day in Baltimore, Buehrle and the first-place Sox beat the Orioles 6-3 before 47,823 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Buehrle’s streak of going at least six innings was halted at 49 when he was inexplicably tossed without warning by plate ump Brian Gorman with two outs in the sixth.

The streak was the longest since Steve Carlton went 69 straight for the Phillies from 1979 to 1982.

Buehrle got the gate for the first time in his career after he plunked B.J. Surhoff with Sammy Sosa (THE TYING RUN) on first base.

The HBP was the latest in a series of plunkings in the four-game set.

Hawk Harrelson was not pleased.

“Oh, come on. What are you doing?” Hawk said on the telecast as reported in the next day’s Tribune. “You’ve got to be kidding me. What are you doing Brian Gorman? Are you nuts?

“Are you nuts? You have got to be. . . . “That is total BS.

“They drill [Tadahito] Iguchi last night … [A.J.] Pierzynski gets drilled . . . aw, I’ll tell you. That is absolutely BS from a veteran umpire.

“I’ll tell you. Some of these umpires have no clue, absolutely no clue. And evidently, he’s one of them. . . .

“The only guy who doesn’t know what’s going on is the guy behind the plate.

“That is so bad. For a veteran umpire . . . that’s so much BS, it’s unbelievable.

“(Buehrle’s 49-game streak of pitching through six innings) was ended by an inept call possibly by an inept umpire.”

By the way, Joe West was the third base ump that day. He would deliver Buehrle his second ejection five years later over a balk call in Cleveland.

Other highlights from that game …

*Prior to the game, the Orioles learned Rafael Palmeiro was suspended for steroids.

*Buehrle improved to 12-4.

*The win completed a four-game sweep, the Sox first in Baltimore in 1954.

COUNTDOWN TO WHITE SOX OPENING DAY: 82 DAYS

82 days to Opening Day, White Sox fans!

The 82nd 1-0 win in White Sox history was one of just two that featured a ninth-inning home run.

The heroes in those games were Eddie Collins and Daniel Palka.

On July 12, 1920 in Philadelphia, Collins broke up a scoreless duel with an inside-the-park home run to lead off the ninth.

The dinger (a vicious line drive to right, according to the next day’s game story in the Chicago Tribune) made a winner out of “Little” (also in the Tribune) Dickie Kerr, who threw six no-hit innings in the complete game effort.

The next time the Sox would win a 1-0 game on a homer in the ninth was courtesy of Palka on Aug. 10, 2018 vs. Cleveland.

On that Friday night a Guaranteed Rate Field, Palka’s leadoff blast off Cody Allen provided the Sox with one of their best wins of the season.

White Sox nuggets