32,000 Rabid Fans Cheer White Sox in Beating Giants

Damon Runyon

Washington Herald/October 7, 1917

Felsch’s Home Run and Cicotte’s Pitching Main Factors in 2-to-1 Result of World’s Series Opening Clash

Chicago, Oct. 6—“Happy” Felsch—Happy by nickname, and just as happy by nature—is hero Number 1 of the world series of 1917.

He is the blocky-built, made-in-Milwaukee center-fielder of the Chicago White Sox, born in Milwaukee, raised in Milwaukee and developed in Milwaukee.

Hits Second Pitch

His home run in the fourth inning of the opening game of baseball’s annual championship struggle this afternoon beat the New York Giants The final score was 2 to 1.

The leathery left arm of old Harry Sallee, the tall, thin veteran of the Giants’ pitching crew, lashed just two balls in Felsch’s direction. “Happy” hit the second into the crowd in the left-field bleachers.

Milwaukee Boy Grins

A wide grin covered the face of the Milwaukee boy as he trotted leisurely around the bases. He was happy inside and outside, was “Happy” Felsch, but no happier than the 32,000 persons packed into the baseball park of the Chicago White Sox, champions of the American League.

The Sox already had one run when Felsch hit his home run, but after that the National Leaguers scored one, so it was “Happy’s” terrific smash that decided one of the closest and most bitterly fought games that a world series has ever known.

Working on the margin of Felsch’s home run, Eddie Cicotte, the chunky right-hander, who has seen some dozen baseball seasons come and go since first he entered the big league, pitched superbly against the sluggers from Manhattan Island.

For years Cicotte’s only claim for fame was that he came to the big league from the same club and at the same time as Tyrus Cobb. He was the cast-off of two other American League clubs He had a delivery they called the “knuckle ball.” It was not regarded as anything remarkable in baseball. Then, suddenly Cicotte began showing exceptional pitching ability, until he finally became known as one of the best men in the game. He has a trick of rubbing the ball on his shirt front before delivering, first, however, applying it to a spot on his knee. Ball players have claimed that this rubbing produces a small shiny place on the ball, and makes it take odd quirks and turns. They call it the “shine ball.”

Cicotte Rubs Ball

Many an American League player and manager protested Cicotte’s practice. They said it was illegal. Time and again games have been delayed in that league while the players and umpires examined the ball used by Cicotte, but it was never established that Cicotte was using any foreign substance to aid his delivery.

He rubbed the ball a great deal today, but the New York Giants paid little attention to his rubbings. Before the game they had reached the conclusion, which is probably true, that the “shine ball” is largely a matter of the imagination and that Cicotte’s real secret was his great control and fast ball.

Alternating at first and third base, John J. McGraw, leader of the Giants and his veteran aides George Gibson, the old Pittsburgh catcher, and Hans Lebert, the third baseman, watched Cicotte with great care but they never bothered with the baseballs.

On the other side Clarence Rowland and his chief lieutenant, the old seamy-faced Kid Gleason, were just as attentive to the delivery of the amazingly long and amazingly thin “Sal” Sallee only some 33 or 34 years old, as years go, but sun-baked to a century in the summers of St Louis.

Both are Veterans

Both Sallee and Cicotte tonight are the veterans of their respective cubs. They both “got by” as baseball puts it partly on what they have in the way of physical ability—in the knack of putting “stuff” or quirks on the ball as it leaves their hands, and partly on what they know; partly on their baseball wisdom.

They are among the wise men of the pitching mound and they proved it today. One blow settled Sallee’s fate. Another blow might have turned it just the other way around.

A bit of over-eagerness on the part of Benny Kauff, the hustling, bustling little center fielder of the Giants, was disastrous to the big town club. Kauff tried to catch a fly that could not very well be caught. Had he caught it, he, too, would have entered the hero class. He failed. Failure and success march arm in arm down through baseball history.

McMullen, the rookie third baseman of the Sox, Shane Collins and “Shoeless Joe” Jackson, were among the stars of the occasion, but it is the fellow who clouts one when the clout is important who always gets the most of the limelight, and that is why “Happy” Felsch is tonight holding the glare of publicity and discussion.

McGraw sprang a surprise when he opened with Sallee. It was generally believed that Schupp, the younger left-hander, would start the series for the Giants, but Sallee’s pitching proved that McGraw knew what he was doing when he put in the veteran. The Giants could not get any runs for Sal and a pitcher cannot win without runs, no matter how well he pitches.

All night long lines of men and boys had waited patiently in the lee of the walls which surround Charley Comiskey’s baseball park.

Pelted by an early evening rain and sleet storm and nipped by brisk breezes off Lake Michigan, they maintained a vigil until the gates opened at 10 o’clock. At that hour the lines tailed off five deep a half-mile in every direction.

Clark Griffith on Job

One by one they shuffled through the entrances and right away to sleep presently a gracious sun broke through the haze which had veiled the sky and warmed them up. Thereafter the sun shone brilliantly. During the early part of the afternoon the heavy coats which everybody wore were almost uncomfortable.

There was a band on the field in front of the temporary boxes built out o the front in front of the left field pavilion. It shed music of patriotic tinge before the game. A crew of trained song “pluggers” shrieked unintelligently through megaphones at the crowd.

Here and there at frequent intervals through the stands were splotches of the olive drab of the army. Clark Griffith stood at the press gate as the people were coming in superintending the distribution of envelopes for contributions to his soldiers’ bat and ball fund.

Before the game many prominent players, including Johnny Evers and Walter Johnson, passed through the stand taking up the collections for Griff’s fund.

White Sox First on Field

The White Sox were the first to appear on the field. They came very leisurely and just as leisurely began tossing the ball around. A scattered volley of cheers and hand-clapping greeted them.

Somehow there seemed to be none of the dash and spirit to the preliminaries which usually characterize a world series. The Giants came moping out one by one. The violet hues in their stockings, the lettering on their chests and on the peaks of their caps have commenced to die out and are now little more than a bright memory. The White Sox wore their white uniforms which had apparently been newly laundered. They had red, white and blue bands on their stockings.

The Giants marched to the bench back of first base and Ed. Mackall, the colored trainer of the Cubs, spread the bats fan-shape on the ground. Whilte the White Sox were at batting practice with el Wolfgang, “Blitzen” Benz and Williams, the left-hander doing the pitching to them, the big town boys practiced on the sidelines.

When the Sox finished their first round at bat McGraw’s club spread out over the field. He is carrying a lot of young recruits for fall inspection and they all rushed out together while the regulars hit against the practice pitching of Rube Benton the North Carolina southpaw.

Schaefer Bats to Infield

A battalion of photographers was on the field filming the different players, the managers and everybody and everything in sight. The Giants had as bat boys a hunchback who wore street clothes and a youngster from Pittsburgh, ,who was a proud lad in a white uniform and brown sweater.

George Smith, the lanky Columbia collegian, relieved Benton, and gave the Giats a crack at some right-handed hurling for a spell.

“Germany Shafer, who is unattached these days, but who has been doing a bit of scouting for McGraw, was in uniform and hit to the infield in practice. Ban Johnson, president of the American League; John K Tener, president of the National League, and Garry Herrman, of Cincinnati, chairman of the National Commission, came and were heavily photographed as they moved ponderously to their box.

Hempstead Not There

These represent the government of baseball. Oddly enough Harry Hempstead, president of the New York Giants, did not come to Chicago for this game, being occupied with the distribution of tickets in New York.

The motion picture men invited the bleacherites in left field to a demonstration for film purposes. A tiny little fellow in a bright red cap and white trousers drew a round of applause when he stopped in front of the band and led the musicians like a bay Sousa.

Shortly before 2 o’clock a column of candidates from the Officers’ Training Camp at Fort Sheridan marched in single file through the left field pavilion and then the White Sox took the field again for their final practice. This time the crowd set up a real yell.

Old Sal Sallee and young Schupp began warming up in front of the Giant bench In front of the Sox bench Eddie Cicotte alone was warming up.

Just before the game started the band struck up “The Star Spangled Banner” and the crowd stood with bared heads while the song “pluggers” sand the words through their megaphones. The soldiers stood with their hands to their hat brims.

McGraw and Rowland were photographed in the good old pose of shaking hands after which they held an argument about ground rules. At 2:10 the Sox dashed to their positions while the crowd roared.

(Source: Chronicling America, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045433/1917-10-07/ed-1/seq-1/)