White Sox Rally, Defeating Giants in Erratic Game

Damon Runyon

Washington Herald/October 14, 1917

Years ago a Chicago Bard o’ Shorts penned some inspiring verse in which he sang of the “Good game Sox who run from behind.”

He did not sing of the Chicago White Sox of the present era. His chant was of the Sox of 1906—the hitless wonders of old Fielder Jones time, but it fits the club commanded by Clarence Rowland.

Ear-Splitting Finish

The Sox of 1917 ran from behind in the fifth game of the world series here today—from ’way, ’way behind—on the New York Giants and they ran good and gamely.

In one of those pop-eyed, ear-splitting finishes that are the dream of the hometown fan they overhauled the flying Giants when the big town club was far in front and won out by a score of 8 to 5.

The Lucky Eighth

They were three runs behind going into the seventh inning. They were still a run away when the eighth opened. They tied and won the game in that inning while 33,000 Chicago fans were lifting their voices and contorting their bodies in a wild gloat.

The Sox did the baseball impossible. They came on and on, and anyways on, even when their most devoted followers were submerged in gloom with not even a periscope of hope showing.

When the winning run crossed the plate in the eighth the tension of the Chicago bench snapped simultaneously with a general snapping of tension in the crowd. The players leaped up and swung their bats and blankets and gloves and sweaters in the air and danced about like a Russian ballet.

“Slim” Sallee Weakens

Over on the Giant bench the brown-sweatered men from Manhattan were watching the mad scene dumbly. They could scarcely credit their eyes.

The weakening of Harry Sallee, the veteran left-hander, in the closing innings, when it looked as if he were well-nigh invincible, a couple of infield misshape tell the tale.

It was bitter cold, and it took Sallee several innings to get thawed out.

He is a sort of Salamander, anyway, thriving best in the heat of summer.

His fingers were numb when he started today. The ball would not respond in the usual way when he cut loose. Then he got better, and finally was pitching steady. The seventh and eighth inning explodings were unexpected and well-nigh incredible to the Giants.

They had gone through with their old-time slashing, and thought they had more than enough runs to win. They had crushed “Tex” Russell, a left-hander, and had beaten back Eddie Cicotte, the star right-hander of the enemy.

Thought It a Cinch.

They thought it was a cinch, and so it was, until the seventh inning came around. Then the Sox rallied and before that rally Sallee’s cross fire was swept away as if it were but practice pitching.

The earlier deeds of Benny Kauff and Robertson and Rariden and the other big-town stars were forgotten in the blazing finish which brought silent John Collins and Eddie Collins and Joe Jackson and the rest of the Sox out in a flare of baseball glory.

The Chicago fans were jeering the Sox a bit when the seventh started because they seemed so weak and puny before the onslaught of the Giants. Some of the people were leaving the yard to escape the cold. They thought it was all over. Then came the finish.

The weather today was clear, but quite cold. There were snow flurries here yesterday and last night the sky remained overcast. The sun appeared this morning, but it did not bring much heat.

Fur coats were in evidence all over the grandstand, shedding a heavy odor of moth balls. Bill Farnum’s now famous yellow leather “flogger” was temporarily eclipsed in grandeur.

Only one man waited up at Comiskey’s gates last night, and it was later declared that he had not been altogether right in the head since being kicked by a mule when a child. There were empty seats when the game began.

It is said that some of the baseballs used by Eddie Cicotte in the last New York game have been sent to a chemist for analysis. There have been so many wild stories as to Eddie’s methods of doctoring the ball that the baseball authorities decided to settle the matter once and for all. If Eddie does some of the things he is reported to do to a pill he would have to have a laboratory adjoining the box.

There was only a breath of air stirring at 1 o’clock, but the temperature was away down. No world series game was ever played under more uncomfortable circumstances from the spectators’ standpoint. Under feet the concrete floors of the stand were icy cold.

While waiting for the game to begin the National Commission got together and decided the place of the seventh game, if it is necessary to play a seventh. Garry Herrmann, chairman of the commission, tossed a coin, and Harry Hempstead, president of the Giants, gave Charley Comiskey the call. The “Old Roman” called heads and the coin fell tails.

It was the first time Hempstead had won a toss. He missed three straight calls in tossing for the opening game.

On that occasion the coin twice fell off a table. This time Hempstead insisted on having it tossed on the floor. “I don’t want any more tables,” he said.

Benny Kauff, the hero of the third game, was given quite a hand when he stepped to bat in practice. He was literally surrounded by photographers before the game. The Giants put up a great infield practice, the cold causing them to inject a lot of zip into their efforts.

Sallee and Pol Perritt shed their sweaters and began warming up side by side, while Reb Russell, the Sox left-hander, went through the preliminary motions in front of the Sox bench. The fans were coming in by droves at this time, and the empty seats were filling, though there was still much vacant space in the right field bleachers and the right field pavilion.

The announcement that Russell would pitch caused McGraw to make a change in his batting order. He withdrew Davy Robertson, the sensational Virginian, who bats left handed, and installed Jim Thorpe in right field, Jim being a right-handed hitter and generally quite effective against left-hand-pitching.

Thorpe is that famous Indian athlete who was hailed as the greatest all-round athlete in the world after his amazing showing in the Olympic games at Stockholm, only to afterward be declared a professional and stripped of his medals.

Thorpe had played baseball for a salary in a little league in the South before he went to Sweden and this fact was not discovered until after the Olympic games. He played football at Carlisle for several years and many football experts believe to this day that he is the greatest player that ever wore a cleated shoe. McGraw signed him after he was outlawed by amateur sport and took him around the world on a tour with the White Sox.

Since then Jim has been back and forth into the majors and minors with regularity. He improved in fielding and everything else very gradually, and finally while with Mathewson at Cincinnati he began showing hitting form against the sidewinders.

There were few preliminaries to the starting of the game. Benny Kauff was hooted by the crowd when he came to bat but he banged the first ball pitched at him to the right field bleachers over John Collins head. It was almost a home run but simmered down to a double.

Bill Evans heard a yell from Rowland and held up his hand to stop the game. Rowland then announced his intention of changing pitchers. Cicotte had been warming up in front of the left field boxes almost in the instant Burns walked and Rowland motioned him in. Russell walked dejectedly from the ground, swinging his glove.

(Source: Chronicling America, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045433/1917-10-14/ed-1/seq-1/)