Tuesday, April 19, 2011


     The last Chicago team to win the World Series in the 20th Century did so with 82 years to spare.
     The 1917 White Sox won 100 games (still a franchise record) and cruised to the American League pennant by nine games. In the World Series against the New York Giants, they won the first two games at Comiskey Park, 2-1 and 7-2, with Eddie Cicotte going the distance in Game 1 and Red Faber doing likewise in Game 2.
     The Sox pounded out 14 hits in Game 2, and even Faber—an .058 hitter for the regular season—joined in the fun, rapping a single to right in the fifth inning. When Giant right fielder Davy Robertson threw home to hold Buck Weaver at third on the play, Faber alertly took second. Then, seeing that pitcher Pol Perritt was ignoring him, Faber took off for third on the next pitch. He slid in, apparently safe, only to come face-to-face with Weaver, who was still occupying the base. “Where the hell are you going?” Weaver asked. The sheepish Faber replied, “Why, back to pitch, of course.”
     Faber could afford to laugh at his baserunning blunder after the Sox scored an easy victory in the game, but the Sox weren’t laughing when they were shut out in Games 3 and 4 at New York. In the pivotal Game 5 on October 13, back at Comiskey Park, they were down 5-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh, and their hopes for a world championship seemed to be fading fast. But the Sox rallied for three to tie the score.
     When the Sox took the field for the eighth, manager Pants Rowland called on Faber, even though he had pitched seven tough innings just two days before. Faber set the Giants down in order. The Sox scored three times in their half of the eighth to take the lead. Faber was again perfect in the top of the ninth, and the Sox won 8-5. It was the turning point of the Series: the momentum had shifted back in Chicago’s favor.
     For Game 6 in New York, Rowland again elected to go with Faber. In the top of the fourth, the Giants fell apart defensively. Eddie Collins reached on a bad throw by third baseman Heinie Zimmerman, a former Cub who, it was said, “fielded by ear.” Joe Jackson lofted an easy fly ball that Robertson dropped. Then Happy Felsch hit a bouncer to Zimmerman, and it appeared that Collins was hung up between third and home. Inexplicably, however, catcher Bill Rariden and pitcher Rube Benton both left the plate unattended. With the unfortunate Zimmerman chasing him, Collins streaked home with the first run of the game. Jackson and Felsch scored on a single by Chick Gandil, and the White Sox were on their way. Faber went all the way, scattering six hits, as the Sox won 4-2 to claim the Series.
     Faber pitched 27 innings in the Series, winning three games and losing one. He and Cicotte pitched 50 of the 52 innings between them. Faber went on to star for the South Siders until 1933, but he missed the infamous 1919 World Series with an injury. “If Red had been available,” catcher Ray Schalk said, “there would never have been a Black Sox scandal.”

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

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