Tuesday, June 4, 2013

June 1- Chicago White Sox

This is the first and hopefully only post where my finances prevent me from writing a particular story about a specific hat on the day that I intend. I really have no one else to blame but myself on this one. I had been meaning to pick this cap up some time last year, but kept putting it off over and over again until it finally swam up and bit me in the ass. In my head I sounded like Richard Dreyfus in “Jaws” when I said that last bit. I finally DID pick this cap up; I got it off of the Lids Web site some time around the end of April and got it in the mail on May 6th. And yet, even getting it two days before the intended date, I somehow managed to completely forget about what I had intended, let alone what I had marked up on my cap. Needless to say, I was pounding my head against a wall in the days to follow.

Now that I have you attention, let me tell you a little bit about this cap. Don’t worry; the epic story is not too far away. The Chicago White Sox, as you’ll learn throughout the year, are one of the more notorious teams in Major League Baseball history to make changes to their hats and uniforms on a four-to-five year basis. On this occasion I present to you their home cap used from 1982-1986. In the spirit of the 80s this is the first time the White Sox introduced a rather unorthodox-looking logo, which happens to be my favorite of all-time; the robotic version on the MLB logo.

I wrote about a similar hat back on April 4th; however, the biggest difference between that cap and this one is that this is an actual game used cap. The other awesome feature about this time frame is that this is when the White Sox starting printing the players’ numbers on the left hip of the pants. I think the most unusual part of all of this is that this all came right as soon as the Jerry Reinsdorf legacy was just getting started. I say this because Reinsdorf is a very business savvy guy and doesn’t come off as someone who makes a lot of changes to a successful product. Well, unless it benefits him that is. Here’s the story behind his ownership for starters.

Former owner Bill Veeck and his partners sold the White Sox to Reinsdorf, a real-estate developer who owns the Chicago Bulls, and Eddie Einhorn, a television sports producer who had once sold hot dogs at Comiskey Park. Stocking the team with solid veterans like Carlton Fisk and Greg Luzinski, the new owners brought a division title to Chicago in 1983. But the erosion of fan support and media coverage continued, leading to fears that Reinsdorf and Einhorn would move the White Sox to another city. Reinsdorf had threatened to move the White Sox to Itasca or Addison, Illinois in DuPage County. Reinsdorf, through his real estate business purchased 100 acres in Addison. Chicago Mayor Harold Washington lobbied the Illinois legislature, and subsequently then-Illinois Governor James R. Thompson promoted a package of incentives to retain the team in Chicago. The state floated bonds to build New Comiskey Park and let Reinsdorf keep all parking and concession revenues, as well as the $5 million per year from 89 skyboxes. This was a home run of a deal for Reinsdorf who wasn’t particularly fond of the original Comiskey Park. New Comiskey opened in 1991 across the street from the old stadium, which was demolished in favor of a parking lot.

The White Sox went through another uniform change in 1987, which happened to feature one of my favorite hats in the White Sox history, until they changed again one last time in 1991, which they’ve stuck with ever since.

5/8-9/84: Like I said above, I got this hat in the mail on May 6th and for some reason I completely spaced it out even after I marked it up with these numbers the second I opened the package. My mistake was brought to my attention on May 20th as I was sitting on my friends’ couch in South San Francisco, watching MLB Network as I really had nothing better to do with my time. It was early in the morning and I was about to take to my computer, as I’m doing now, to write my blog post for that day about the Stars and Stripes hat for the Atlanta Braves. “MLB Now” was at a commercial break when out of the blue Bob Costas’s voice came over the television for MLB Network’s “this day in baseball” segment. Well, rather than talk about the day that it was, they opted for a general month of May highlight… which talked about this particular game. Almost immediately the light bulb kicked on and a wave of “I can’t believe I just did that” punch me in the gut, knocked me to the ground and kicked me in the face for good measure. So now, I bring you this epic tale, and hope to God I don’t blow it on another important anniversary again.

On May 8, 1984 the White Sox hosted the Milwaukee Brewers at the original Comiskey Park in a contest that featured five future Hall of Famers and Tony Larussa managing the White Sox. Don Sutton started the game for the Brewers while Bob Fallon took to the hill for the White Sox. The game got off to a masterful pitchers duel. Both Sutton and Fallon got through five frames without allowing a single run and only allowing at least one hit and a few walks each.

In the bottom of the sixth inning Sutton struck out Carlton Fisk and then gave up a single to White Sox first baseman Greg Walker. Greg Luzinski struck out next. While Sutton stared down Harold Baines to hopefully get the third out, Walker stole second, making him the first base runner to end up in scoring position thus far on the night. Baines then popped the next pitch up into foul territory on the third base side… which was dropped by Brewers’ third baseman Randy Ready, who was clearly not ready for the ball. Terrible joke, I know. Baines ended up drawing a two out walk as a result of the error. Left fielder Tom Paciorek then came to the plate and fired a single into left field, scoring Walker easily before Vance Law flew out to right field.

In the top of the seventh inning Salome Barojas relived Fallon who was on the hook for the win. Barojas’s first batter was Ready. Ready redeemed his folly by drawing a walk. The next batter, Jim Sundberg, moved Ready over to third with a single to right field. Next up, Robin Yount. Yount drilled a single to centerfield which scored Ready and moved Sundberg to second. Larussa had had enough and replaced Barojas with Brit Burns who ended up getting out of the jam. The score now is 1-1.

The seventh and eighth inning featured a few walks, a Pete Ladd for Sutton pitching change, a Dave Stegman pinch run for Luzinski and not much of anything else. In the top of the ninth Larussa made a defensive change by replacing Walker with Mike Squires (no relation to Billy). Not a lot of good it did as Burns collapsed on the mound, giving up a double to Yount, who then stole third and scored on a throwing error on the play. Ted Simmons then roped a single in which he advanced to second on a wild pitch and then scored after a single by Ben Oglivie. Oglivie then got caught stealing by Fisk. The next batter, Bobby Clark, walked only to be caught stealing by Fisk as well. So now it’s 3-1 Brewers.

With a two-run pad Brewers manager Rene Lachemann went to his closer, Rollie Fingers, to wrap things up quick before Happy Hour ended. Fingers’ first test was Paciorek, who ended up getting on second due to fielding error on the right fielder’s behalf. Next up, Vance Law, who flew out to centerfield. One down. Jerry Hairston then pinch hit for Scott Fletcher… only to fall victim to the “Mike Tyson’s Punch Out.” Two out. White Sox second baseman Julio Cruz worked himself a nice count before crushing a double into centerfield, easily scoring Paciorek. 3-2 Brewers with two out now. With Cruz on second it was back to the top of the White Sox batting order, where centerfielder Rudy Law stepped in to be a potential hero. With a 2-2 count Law smoked a single into left field, scoring Cruz from second to tie the game at three apiece. Fingers got tagged with a blown save, but still needed to get out of the inning. Fisk then grounded out to the shortstop and the game moved into extra innings.

For the sake of speeding things along, no one scored all the way through the 17th inning. That’s right, the game lasted eight more full innings before the umpires halted the game 12:59 AM due to a rule which prevented any game to continue beyond 1:00 AM, a rule that has since been kicked to the curb as shown by the Oakland Athletics versus Los Angeles Angels game with went 19 innings on April 29th.

The game was continued the next day as an accidental doubleheader. The game would remain scoreless all the way through the end of the 20th inning. At the top of the 21st the White Sox made a pitching change. Ron Reed replaced Juan Agostoas backup catcher Bill Schoeder came to the plate and proceeded to strike out. One out. Yount came up next and quickly flew out to right field. Two out. Designated Hitter Cecil Cooper was next. Cooper had been 0-9 prior to this at-bat and finally proved his worth with a single to the second baseman. Next up, Simmons, who proceeded to draw a walk. With runner on first and second Oglivie blasted a three-run shot to give the Brewers a 6-3 lead. Reed was now on the hook for the loss.

In the bottom of the 21st the White Sox made short work on Chuck Porter. Leadoff man Law got a single and Fisk knocked him in to bring the score to 6-4 in favor of the Brewers. The first three batters got on base while the fourth, Dave Stegman who had replace Luzinski in the eighth, struck out. Baines then drew a walk to load the bases. Paciorek, who had been lights out all game continued his rampage by singling to centerfield, bringing in two runs. Porter was able to make the final two outs but tagged himself for a blown save and a 6-6 tie ball game.

Both teams breezed through the 22nd inning. In the top of the 23rd, Floyd Bannister replaced Reed for the White Sox with two outs and runner on first and second. He was able to get Oglivie to fly out to left field to end the side. The White Sox then squandered a potential win in the bottom of the 23rd inning after Stegman and Paciorek both singles; however, Stegman ended up getting called out at third due to interference. Law then singled, putting two runners on at which shortstop Jerry Dybzinksi grounded out to end the side. Baines had flown out too, three outs.

The 24th inning came and went. Each time had a base runner on at one point, but nothing more than one.

At the top of the 25th the White Sox had to make a call to the bullpen again, this time to Tom Seaver. What’s interesting about this move is that the White Sox were so depleted on pitchers that they had to use the guy who was supposed to start the game which followed this game in to pitch. But, desperate times call for desperate measures. With little time to warm-up, Seaver gave up a single to Schroeder. Next up, Yount, who grounded into a double play. Next, Cooper, who flew out to left field to end the side.

Porter was still in for the Brewers in the bottom of the 25th innings when Cooper came up to bat for the White Sox. Cooper quickly got two strikes on him and for some reason decided to bunt which he fouled back for an automatic out. With one out u walked Baines. Baines had gone 1-9 so far in the game with a double and two walks under his belt. Baines, a left-handed batter, was perfectly matched up against right-handed Porter. Porter fired a fastball right down Broadway. Baines kicked his right leg up, a la Mel Ott, and swung with the fury of a thousand winds. As soon as Baines made contact Porter knew he had made a mistake. As soon as Baines made contact all of Comiskey knew that Porter had made a mistake. As soon as Baines made contact he knew he had won the game. At eight hours and six minutes the White Sox had beaten the Brewers 7-6 in the longest game (by time) in MLB history. Porter was tagged with the loss. Seaver got the win and Baines was the toast of South Chicago. The storybook ending was complete… well, not really actually. They still had another game to play. Even though Seaver had won the game that had just ended, he still pitched in the next game. Seeing how he had only done one inning of work, he was beyond warmed up, and ended up getting two victories in one day as the White Sox won again 5-4. Crazy.


  1. It's funny that this hat keeps popping up, as if it's the default throwback for the White Sox. Funny because they only wore it for 5 seasons, and they have over 100 years of history to tap into.

    But, they rolled this one out last year, and are bringing in a variation of it with the "batter man" logo as a Diamond Era thing.

    As a kid I fell in love with the 1976-81 Sox hats. They made me the Sox fan I am today. So it was a bit stunning to my young self when these things appeared in 1982.

    Surely some mistake, I reasoned.

    Surely they'll bring the proper hats back, I reckoned.

    Surely if I wait long enough...

    ...still waiting. :(