Friday, July 16, 2010

Lightning in a Bottle

     In the summer of 1948, White Sox fans could hardly savor the misfortunes of the last-place Cubs, for the Pale Hose were even worse. But on July 18, an obscure outfielder by the name of Pat Seerey gave them something to shout about, if only for one game.
     The chunky five-foot-ten, 200-pound Seerey had been acquired early in the season after five years with the Cleveland Indians, during which time he had hit 68 home runs while struggling to keep his batting average over .225. He’d also struck out about twice for every seven at-bats. Seerey was a player of limited talents to say the least—just the sort of fellow who would be rendered obsolete when the doors were opened to more than a handful of African Americans. On this one day, though, he accomplished something that Babe Ruth, for one, never did.
     The White Sox, visiting the Philadelphia A’s for a Sunday doubleheader, were behind 5-1 in the first game when Seerey came to bat in the fourth inning. He blasted a solo home run that cleared the roof of the left-field pavilion. In the fifth, with a teammate on base, he landed one on top of the roof. In the sixth, he again hit the roof, this time with two teammates aboard.
     Seerey had hit three home runs and knocked in six runs in a little less than an hour, but his production was not sufficient to keep the game from going into extra innings after the Sox blew a four-run lead in the seventh. He came up again with two outs in the top of the 11th. This time his drive fell short of the roof, landing in the left-field stands instead. Seerey’s fourth home run of the game provided the margin of victory as the Sox prevailed 12-11 for their 26th win of the year against 50 losses.
     The unknown Seerey was only the third player in the modern era to hit four homers in a single game, equaling the feats of Lou Gehrig in 1932 and Chuck Klein in 1936. He and the Sox immediately reverted to form in the second game of the doubleheader, losing 6-1.
     For the season, the Sox lost 101 games and finished 44½ games behind Cleveland. (The Cubs also finished last, and it was the first time that both Chicago clubs had achieved that dubious distinction in the same year.) Seerey ended up just about where he always did—18 homers, 64 RBIs, a .229 average, and 94 strikeouts in 340 at-bats. The next year, after going hitless in four at-bats, he disappeared from the major leagues for good.

Reprinted from Heydays: Great Stories in Chicago Sports
(c) 2009, 2010 by Christopher Tabbert

No comments:

Post a Comment