It’s been fifty years since the White Sox won the AL Pennant in 1959, when Mayor Richard Daley the 1st set off the fire sirens, sending some people into a panic, but not White Sox fans. I was only three years old, so I don’t remember my team winning the pennant or subsequently being defeated by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series that year, but I have had many sleepless nights wondering why Manager Al Lopez didn’t use Billy Pierce against LA, a question Lopez never answered to his dying day.
But this was a happy time, the Go-Go White Sox featuring Little Luis Aparicio at shortstop, Nellie Fox at second, Sherm Lollar behind the plate, & in centerfield was Jim Landis, talk about strong up the middle defensively, no team was better. Speed, pitching. & defense made this team go. Aparicio was the AL leader in stolen bases from 1956-64, stealing his alltime high of 56 in 1959. It still strikes me as funny, when a friend ran into Luis many years later, and asked, “How many bases would you steal today?” Luis responded, “Not very many. I’m very old”. Pitcher Early Wynn won the AL Cy Young Award that year with a record of 22-10. Youngster Bob Shaw experienced his best year finishing with an 18-6 mark. Lefty Billy Pierce had a disappointing record of 14-15, but had won 20 games two of the three previous years, and alot of his losses in 1959 were due to poor run support. Then there was 9-10 Dick Donovan. Before good bullpens became a must, the White Sox had a good one, Turk Lown (9-2 15 saves) & Jerry Staley (8-5 14 saves).
The White Sox finished the season with 94 wins, five more than the Cleveland Indians, winning 47 on the road & 47 on the road, their record was 35-15 in one run games, and 12-3 in extra inning ballgames.
In Game #1 of the World Series at Comiskey Park, the Southsiders pounded the Dodgers & Roger Craig, for an 11-0 win behind 5 Ted Kluszewski (a late season pickup) ribbies and the shutout pitching of Early Wynn.
Charlie Neal hit two homers accounting for three runs off Bob Shaw, Chuck Essegian hit a solo shot off Shaw to account for another Dodgers run off Shaw, as the Dodgers won game two 4-3 behind Johnny Podres & Larry Sherry, it looked like it would be another laugher as Podres surrendered two first inning runs, but then came back to work the next five innings without allowing another tally.
The 3rd game was at the Coliseum in LA, over 92,394 fans in attendance. Dick Donovan was matched up against Don Drysdale. Drysdale allowed 11 White Sox hits, the Sox stranded 11 runners, had three runners thrown out trying to steal by catcher Johnny Roseboro. In the 7th inning of a scoreless game pinch hitter Carl Furillo came through with a two out two RBI basehit off reliever Jerry Staley. Then in the top of the 8th Al Smith hit into a doubleplay with the bases loaded and nobody out off reliever Larry Sherry, the Sox scored their only run on the play. The Dodgers would add a run in the eighth and hold on for a 3-1 victory. Even though Donovan didn’t allow a run, where was Billy Pierce?
The Dodgers scored four runs off Early Wynn in the 3rd inning, sending Wynn to the showers Early (allthough my heart is breaking, I couldn’t resist). Billy Pierce faced only 11 batters over three innings, no runs, keeping the Sox in the game, was lifted for a pinch hitter in the 7th, Chicago scored four in the 7th after two outs to tie up the contest, an RBI single by Big Klu and a three run poke by Lollar. But then in the bottom of the 8th Gil Hodges hit a monster shot to left off Staley, which turned out to be the game winner, 5-4, and the LA had a 3-1 Series lead.
92,706 fans were on hand for the last game in Los Angeles, looking to win the Championship, if not the Series would return to the Southside of Chicago, which is the baddest part of town (again, my apologies, I crack myself up). Sandy Koufax was matched up against Bob Shaw. The Sox scored a 4th inning run to take a 1-0 lead when with runners at the corners and nobody out Sherm Lollar hit into a doubleplay. Shaw, along with relief help from Donovan, would make it stand up for a 1-0 victory.
Duke Snider hit a two run homer off Wynn in the 3rd to give LA a 2-0 lead at Comiskey. Then the Dodgers exploded in the 4th inning for six more runs off Early & reliever Donovan. A 4th inning three run big fly off the bat of Kluszewski cut it to an 8-3 game, after a walk to Al Smith, Podres was lifted for reliever Larry Sherry. Sherry pitched 5 2/3 innings in relief to seal the deal and notch the win in the Series clincher.
Luis Aparicio, .308 average in the Series, only stole one base in the Series, the White Sox stole only 2, getting caught 3 times (I guess speed can go into a slump), while the Dodgers pilfered 5 bases. Ted Kluszewski hit three home runs, drove in ten (5 in game #1), and batted .391. Nellie Fox batted .375. While Bob Shaw was 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA, working 14 innings. Early Wynn didn’t seem to have it after the first game, finishing with a 1-1 record, and a 5.54 ERA. Billy Pierce didn’t allow a run, working only four innings in relief.
Reliever Larry Sherry was the star of the World Series for the Dodgers, working 12 2/3 innings, 0.71 ERA, with two wins, & 2 saves. Don Drysdale scattered 11 hits over 7 innings in his only start, allowing only one run, picking up a win. Charlie Neal was on fire in the series, hitting two home runs, while batting .370 & knocking in six. Gil Hodges hit a red hot .391. Pinch hitter Chuck Essegian, who’d only homered once in the regular season, hit two pinch home runs in the World Series.
Even though losing the World Series to the Dodgers was tough to take, it was a bittersweet moment in Chicago White Sox history, because at least the White Sox won the Pennant.