Red Sox Repeat in '52! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jason Russell   
Sunday, 18 November 2012 10:50

In a repeat of the 1950 World Series, the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs met up once again to decide the champion of the world of baseball. Both teams have been making a habit of appearing in the Fall Classic of late as the Red Sox have now been three times in a row after having previously not appeared in the World Series since 1918. The Cubs have been regular participants, having appeared 11 times since 1928, including 4 of the last 6. The Sox managed to pull out last year's championship over a game New York Giants team after losing the 1950 Series, and the Bostonians were itching for payback.

This year's Boston team had limped into the playoffs, having only an 18-28 record in August and September but still managed to hold off the Yankees and Indians who had been pretty much as awful. That, combined with the loss of 19 game winner Mike Garcia and solid rotation starter Chris Van Cuyk along with veteran on-base machine Augie Galan left the Sox wondering if they had the horses to make another run at this thing. Meanwhile, the Cubs had a stellar second half, finishing with a 14-5 September which allowed them to really pull away from the Atlanta Braves for the division championship.

In the League Championship, Boston surprised everybody by defeating the Kansas City Athletics in their first season in the Show-Me State in five games, including one-run victories in the final two games. The A's finished the season first in the AL in both runs scored and fewest runs allowed and had every reason to expect a victory over a Boston team that also had a strong offense but had struggled to stop anyone else from scoring at times. However, Boston pulled it out in a close series, outscoring KC by only a 17-14 margin over the series. In the NL, Chicago also had their work cut out for them, facing off against a Giants team that was determined to avenge their loss in the World Series last season. New York came into the series with the best record in baseball, having put up a stellar 97 wins on the season with an offense that scored the most runs in baseball and the second best defense in the majors after Kansas City. However, that offense was largely stymied by a strong Cubs pitching staff whose bats came alive, defeating the New York squad in six games to send them to the Series yet again.

Game 1 - The Cubs started off at a slight disadvantage to Boston in spite of having the home field to begin the Series since they had to play an extra playoff game. This put Boston on track at the top of their rotation while 29-game winner Howie Pollet started the final game of the New York series. So, the Red Sox sent up 19-game winning, 23-year old lefty Curt Simmons in Game 1 while the Cubs countered with veteran lefty Tal Abernathy, the 1949 winner of the NL Joe Wood Award and a victor in 172 BOY games. The Sox jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first as leadoff man Whitey Lockman tripled on the second pitch of the Series and scored on a sacrifice fly. The Cubs struck back and took the lead on solo homers by rookie superstar Bob Cerv in the bottom of the fifth and newly acquired slugger Duke Snider, picked up from the rival St. Louis Cardinals at the deadline, in the bottom of the sixth. However, the Sox tied it up off of Abernathy in the top of the seventh and continued their onslaught against reliever Pinky Woods, scoring 4 runs in a two-out rally that included a bases clearing double by Shotgun Shuba. The unfortunate thing for the Cubs was that they had a chance at getting out of the inning until Cerv's insufficiency as an infielder caused him to boot a potential double play ball early in the inning that would have surely prevented the rally. The Sox take home the victory on the Cubs turf, 6-2 to take a 1-0 lead in the Series.

Game 2 - There seemed to be a distinct advantage for Chicago in Game 2 as they sent master pitcher Jiro Noguchi and his 21 wins to the mound against strong-armed, but control-challenged Soup Polivka who had missed three months of the season with a hamstring injury and hadn't pitched since June until going 1-1 against the A's in the League Championship. However, Noguchi had a physical challenge of his own, having suffered a mild shoulder strain against the Giants and being pulled in his one start. The Cubs jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a solo homer by Jackie Robinson while Noguchi held the Sox scoreless through the first three innings. However, Polivka was more than up to the challenge, keeping the Cubs from scoring again through seven innings while only allowing 4 more hits and an uncharacteristic 2 walks. Meanwhile, the Sox jumped on Noguchi in the fourth and fifth, including a solo homer from rookie Joe Caffie. They tacked on two more on a two-run shot from Whitey Lockman in the 7th, but they already had more than enough as veteran reliever Charlie Stanceau pitched to the minimum in the final two frames to secure the 5-1 victory and send the teams to Boston with the Red Sox up 2 games to none.

Game 3 - The Cubs finally got to see their superstar ace, Howie Pollet on this Sunday evening, and it was a good thing with the Boston wind blowing heavily out to center field. Pollet clearly outmatched Boston swingman Tom Poholsky who had only won 6 games on the season but had secured an important victory in a complete game against Kansas City in the League Championship. The fans were treated to a classic pitchers' duel. The Cubs attacked in the top of the fourth with doubles from Robinson and Mickey Mantle, scoring two runs in the frame. The Sox struck back in the bottom of the 6th after an error by Pollet put Steve Bilko on first base. Catcher Hawk Silvestri followed with a double blasted deep into Fenway's cavernous center field which allowed Bilko to come all the way around to score. However, Pollet was otherwise masteful, walking nobody in a complete game, scattering 8 hits and only allowing that single run to score. The visiting team won the third game in a row in this unusual Series, but the Cubs still had their work cut out for them with two games left in Boston.

Game 4 - In a repeat of Game 1, Simmons faced off once again against Abernathy, and neither pitcher disappointed. The Sox struck first in the bottom of the initial frame as the Cubs defense failed them again. Normally sure-handed Jackie Robinson erred on a grounder from leadoff man Lockman. Lockman was eventually thrown out at the plate as he challenged right fielder Jim Lemon who had 15 outfield assists on the season. However, that extra out the Cubs failed to make was costly as Silvestri drove in Buddy Kerr on a two-strike single. Robinson made up for that error with a solo homer in the top of the sixth inning that tied the game at one apiece, but that was all Simmons was going to give up on this day. He and Abernathy went head to head for nine innings, and the Cubs manager showed faith in Abernathy in the ninth even after he allowed a leadoff walk on four pitches to George Hausmann] and followed that by allowing a single to veteran [url=http://baseball-backtothefuture.com/game/lgreports/news/html/players/player_4913.html]Charlie Brewster who had spent most of the season riding the pine in Pawtucket and was only on the big league roster due to the injury to Galan. After a popup from rookie Ted Lepcio, Abernathy faced what looked like a sure out in Dick Kokos, a platoon player who only had 39 ABs all season against lefties, hitting a paltry .154 against southpaws. However, the Sox bench was looking short and extra innings were a possibility. So, the Boston manager put Kokos in to pinch hit for Simmons against Abernathy, who looked to be tiring out. Kokos took a strike and then a ball before making contact and hitting a weak flyball into short center field that Mantle couldn't catch up to. With two outs, the runners were moving on contact, and Hausmann scored easily from second base to give the Sox a 3-1 Series lead.

Game 5 - Clearly the Cubs needed this game desperately, not only to extend the Series but to send them back home with Pollet and Noguchi ready to go. However, as fourth starters go, the one they had going wasn't too shabby. Out to the mound in Fenway Park, the Cubs sent 323 game winner, Paul Dean. Meanwhile, Boston sent Soup Polivka and his 25 career victories back to the mound, hoping he could repeat his Game 2 performance. However, Soup was not good on this day and was pulled in the sixth inning after giving up 7 runs, 5 of them earned. The Cubs knocked him around, including a solo homer from big Bob Cerv and another homer from Robinson, a two-run shot in the 4th inning. In the bottom of the fifth, the Cubs got a big boost from a big man as Hammerin' Hank Greenberg added to his Hall of Fame credentials with a two-run homer of his own. Meanwhile, Dean was superb through 7 innings, giving up only 4 hits and a single run in the second inning. It looked like the game was safe as Dean went into the 8th with a 7-1 lead, but the Sox made it interesting, stringing 5 hits and an error by Greenberg to score 4 runs and make the game interesting. Dean was still out there in the ninth before allowing a hit and being relieved by Pinky Woods. Woods walked pinch-hitting Silvestri, bringing him to the top of the order with men on first and second and only one out. Joe Caffie hit a fly ball deep to Fenway's center field which would have likely been a Series-winning homer in most parks but was flagged down by Mickey Mantle. That brought up the powerful right-hander, Steve Bilko, and fans of both teams held their breath as Woods struck Bilko out staring at a 1-2 curveball. The Cubs had gotten their wish and were headed back to Chicago with two of the best pitchers in the game ready to go.

Game 6 - Things couldn't have lined up less perfectly for the Red Sox as they sent Poholsky to the mound once again to face off against the dominant Howie Pollet. It was a cool night in Chicago with a stiff breeze blowing out to right field. With the right-handed Poholsky on the mound, you'd better believe that Duke Snider and Mickey Mantle were eyeing those right field stands as Poholsky and his mediocre arsenal of pitches warmed up before the game. Boston's offense against left-handers like Pollet had not been strong on the year, and Augie Galan coming back finally from injury to make an appearance in left field was not expected to do a whole lot to help that situation. Before the first pitch, it seemed obvious to everyone, including the few Boston faithful who had made their way to Wrigley Field, that these teams were destined to see a Game 7. However, it appears that nobody told the Red Sox lineup that they were supposed to lay down. In the first inning, Whitey Lockman worked Pollet for a walk in front of a single by Buddy Kerr. A throwing error by Mantle moved the runners up a base, and Ken Silvestri drove in Lockman when left fielder Snider's weak arm was tested and failed. In the second inning, Hausmann led off with a double and Lepcio worked a 7 pitch walk. Poholsky bunted the runners over, and Kerr hit a ball between Mantle and Lemon that scored both runners to give the Sox a 3-0 advantage. Meanwhile, Poholsky was pitching masterfully. It was as if he had no idea that at 23 years of age he was not supposed to be doing this to a great team like the Cubs. As if he didn't realize that his 20 win 1951 season was actually a fluke. As if nobody made him aware that his pitches weren't good enough to get out great hitters. His confidence carried him through as he gave up only three hits through 8 innings where Boston clung to that 3-0 lead going into the bottom of the ninth. Before that final inning, Poholsky had already thrown 113 pitches, but the manager thought he still looked strong. He started the inning by inducing Bobby Brown and his .319 average against righties to tap back to the mound. He then faced Duke Snider, but the Silver Fox wasn't about to give this game up and drove a ball into the right field stands to pull the Cubs within two runs. With big bats in Mantle, Lemon and Greenberg yet to come, the manager considered pulling Poholsky, but when he looked into the youngster's eyes, he knew he had this, and he was right. He got an over-anxious Mantle to pop up to first before Lemon hit a double off the Green Monster. With two outs, the aging hero Hank Greenberg stepped to the plate. On a 1-1 count, Greenberg guessed fastball and swung too hard at a changeup, tapping the ball to the left of Poholsky who picked it up and tossed the ball to Steve Bilko at first to give the Boston Red Sox their second World Championship in a row, this one even more unlikely than the first.

 
Red Sox Win Franchise's First Championship!!! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jason Russell   
Thursday, 13 September 2012 13:45

After 51 years and 6 unsuccessful World Series appearances, the Red Sox finally won their first! After dispatching the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship, they faced off against a super-hot New York Giants team which had beaten the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Championship in spite of the Reds being heavily favored.

Game 1
Having lost their ace, Curt Simmons, to injury, the Sox turned to fastballer Ken Polivka in Game 1. Polivka had seen varied results in his previous years with the Braves but had been strong in 14 starts with the Sox this season after a July callup, including a 1.74 ERA in September. The Giants countered with Warren Spahn, their All Star lefty coming off of his third consecutive 20 win season. On paper, it looked like no contest, but Polivka was up to the challenge. He only allowed 4 hits over 8.2 innings while Spahn scattered 9 hits over 8. It was a classic pitchers duel with the Sox taking a 2-1 lead in the sixth on a Joe Gordon solo homer. Still, the Giants threatened to tie in the bottom of the ninth as Polivka's control issues reared their head with a leadoff walk to Bill Wilson. Len Okrie bunted him to second before Fred Hatfield flew out to center for the second out. In a strange move, the Sox brought in right-hander Mike Palm into the game. All of the Giants best hitters against lefties were already in the game, and pinch hitter Dale Long and his powerful bat were looming in the on deck circle to hit for Spahn. Still, the Sox manager went with Palm instead of lefties Mel Parnell or Chris Van Cuyk. Just the same, Palm struck Long out looking to end the game and give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead in the Series.

Game 2
For the second game in Boston, it appeared to be another pitching mismatch as the Sox went with 36 year old Harry Shuman whose performance has belied his ratings for three years in Boston. This season, he had walked 36 more batters than he struck out but still managed 14 wins and a 3.47 ERA, mostly due to his ability to keep the ball in the park and in the hands of Red Sox infielders. New York countered with rookie phenom Bullet Bob Turley who led the National League in both walks and strikeouts this season. His 237 Ks were the second most in the last ten years while his 224 walks were the third most all-time and the most since 1925. The Giants loaded the bases in the top of the first but failed to score but scored 2 of their own in the bottom of the second and third, sandwiched by a single Giants run in the top of the 3rd. Both teams continued to scratch out runs, leading to a 5-3 score after six innings, and that is where the score stayed as Red Sox reliever, Mike Garcia came in during the sixth inning and shut the Giants down for the rest of the game on a single hit. Turley's control definitely did him in as he walked 6 in the game, and the Red Sox game plan of just putting the ball in play worked out for them as the flame thrower only struck out a single Sox batter. The Sox take a 2-0 lead in the Series into Gotham.

Game 3
Off to New York these two teams went, and the Giants were determined to not let this thing get out of hand. They started off strong in the bottom of the 1st, sending 8 batsmen to the plate and scoring two runs off of Boston hurler, Tom Poholsky. The second year man had quite a season, winning 20 games with a 3.42 ERA at the tender age of 21. He had finished the year strong with a 2.24 ERA in August and September, but this was not his day as the Giants put up 6 runs on 9 hits in Poholsky's 5 innings. Garcia came in again and was joined in relief by Charlie Stanceau as the Sox pen shut out the Giants the rest of the way. However, 31-year old fastballer Fred Bradley proved too much for the Sox bats on this day. He kept them off balance, striking out six and only walking a single batter in 8 innings. Still, Boston managed to power their way to 5 runs, thanks largely to homers from Irv Noren, Solly Hemus and Dick Kokos. Unfortunately for Boston, those were all of the solo variety thanks to Bradley's impeccable control in this game. The Giants brought out their gap bats against the Sox, coming up with 5 doubles in the game. In the end, Red Fields, relegated to the pen for this series, came in and shut down the Sox in the ninth, leading the Giants to a potentially Series-saving, 6-5 victory.

Game 4
This game sees both Game 1 starters, Polivka and Spahn, back on the mound, and Giants fans hoped that Spahnie would be able to prove his dominance this time. It looked good in the first inning as the Sox went three up and three down while the Giants struck for two runs in the bottom of the first. However, the Sox power came to life in the second inning as Archie Wilson hit a line drive homer to left, scoring himself and Steve Bilko to tie the game. The Giants nearly took the lead in the fourth as Len Okrie was thrown out at the plate on a strange play. Standing at second when Spahn hit a grounder to the deep hole between the first and second basemen, the led-footed catcher, Okrie, decided to try for home. Boston second baseman George Hausmann was initially surprised by Okrie's attempt but recovered in time to make a good throw to catcher, Ken Silvestri, to nail Okrie at the plate. The Sox power showed again in the top of the fifth as they scored three runs on an RBI double by Silvestri and a two-run homer from Whitey Lockman. The Giants put up one more run in the eighth inning before being shut down in the ninth by 28 year old rookie, Duke Markell, and his devastating curveball. The 5-3 victory puts the Sox up 3 games to 1 in the Series, and it doesn't look good for the Giants.

Game 5
This promised to be the last game in New York this season regardless of the outcome as a victory would send the Giants back to Boston where they would have to take two from the Sox. Game 2 starters, Shuman and Turley, were back on the mound, and the Sox were rude to Turley once again. In the top of the first, Steve Bilko drove in Whitey Lockman who had tripled and followed with 3 more runs in the third on a deep home run down the left-field line by catcher Clint Courtney. The Giants sandwiched a run in the bottom of the 2nd with a solo shot from the powerful Danny Gardella. Unfortunately for New York, Shuman was lights out on this day, mixing a good fastball, curve and sinker, retiring 10 straight Giants between the 2nd and 5th innings. Meanwhile, the Boston offense kept blasting away at Turley and reliever Mal Mallette, putting up 10 runs in the game. Shuman was still pitching in the 9th when the Giants attempted a last-ditch rally, culminating in another bomb from Gardella, this one a 3-run shot, before Cass Michaels ended the game on a nice play from Boston first baseman Steve Bilko who ranged to his right and speared a grounder that he then tossed to Shuman at first. With that, Boston's hopes and dreams came to fruition. The team mobbed Shuman behind first base while the Giants players stalked back to their dugout to the applause of their appreciative fans.

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 September 2012 13:46
 
Detroit Takes Series! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Rackow   
Monday, 12 March 2012 12:59
Change is constant and inevitable, so much so that the claim “Nothing is certain except death and taxes” rings true in any era. To this short list, though, I now propose we add “...and the Detroit Tigers winning championships.” In dispatching the Series' NL representatives, the Tigers have added to their impressive string of recent success: 6 division wins, 5 pennants, and 3 World Championships over the last 7 seasons.
The Tigers came into the 1948 Series riding a wave of confidence. Their 91 wins topped their league; their potent offense led the AL in batting average, and the majors in homers; their pitching was solid and consistent. The Philadelphia Phillies' pitching was sporadic at best, but their offense had plated 786 runs, tops in the majors. The intriguing matchup was dampened in some respects by what (or rather who) was missing, though.
Both teams had managed to make it though the end of the season and past the first round of the playoffs despite major injuries. The Phillies' #1 starter (Johnny Hetki) and their best offensive player (Cecil Travis) both were knocked out in early September, in addition to losing their #2 starter (Woody Rich) early in the year. The Tigers were missing the services of pitcher Johnny Beazley, starting left fielder Burnis Wright, and offensive juggernaut Stan Musial.
The Series was nip and tuck from the start, with the teams each posting a 2-run victory, then a 1-run win, so the games were tied 2-2 after 4. Game 5 loomed large, as it always does in a tied-up 7-game series.
The Tigers handed the ball to 18-game winner Jay Heard, 1943 Bob Smyk award winner and, rather notably, former Philly. The Tigers had burned the midnight oil at the trade deadline in 1947, pulling the trigger on a trade that gave up 2 first-round picks to acquire Jay's services in an attempt to catch the Chicago White Sox. They may have failed to catch them last season, but here was an most serendipitous opportunity to make that trade pay off, in a big way.
Philly, desperate for arms, turned to 39-year-old Lon Warneke. Acquired in a salary dump from Washington the previous season, his stats (career average 3.22 ERA and 1.25 WHIP) had ballooned to 5.60 and 1.76 this season in very limited work. The Phils were praying that, with 285 career wins, there was enough magic left in his arm to keep them competitive in his 1st career playoff start.
Boy was there! The 4,200+ innings Lon had thrown previously in his career were just prelude to the 10 innings of shutout ball he tossed that night. It would turn out to be one of the great unlikely clutch performances in Series history, remembered for decades...or rather, it would have been, if the Tigers had not matched him inning for inning. Heard threw 9 shutout innings himself, Marv Grissom and Johnny Johnson combined to throw 3 more, and the Tigers won Game Five 1-0 on Johnny Bero's pinch single off closer Tom Ferrick in the 12th.
After the Tigers took care of business in Game 6 (the only “blow-out” of the Series, a 6-2 final), a dejected Phillies bench had to watch former teammate Jay Heard celebrating with the rest of the world champs, trying to imagine what that feeling was like. A feeling that they are familiar with, “Maybe next year,” is also familiar to 14 other teams. So, congrats to the 1948 World Champion Detroit Tigers, but here is a warning to you, from the 15 other pro clubs in MLB:
Change, as they say, is inevitable. Watch out in 1949!
Last Updated on Monday, 12 March 2012 13:01
 
Northsiders Fill the Trophy Cases in ‘49 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dave Schwaller   
Sunday, 15 April 2012 14:26

Die-hard Cubbie fans kept waiting for it. The same improbable occurrence that they’ve witnessed their last four World Series visits. That feeling when they watch the final number being set into the scoreboard’s last inning that makes it go from the surreal to the all too real. First it was the A’s who were 12 games worse during the ’36 season. Then the Tigers who chalked up 9 fewer in ‘42, and the Yankees with their 17 game disadvantage in ‘43. Two years ago the knife was twisted by the team who they share the city with – they bettered the White Sox by 11. They say it’s not the destination, it’s the journey, but you probably shouldn’t say that within sight of Wrigley Field.

 

The World Series trophy will certainly go on the top shelf of owner Mike Giovacchini’s case, but others will be joining it. That’s because this season was one filled with excellence across the diamond, as well as from the past. The top pitching staff in the NL was led by Tal Abernathy, who ends up splitting the Joe Wood award with Johnny Schmitz. One could argue that he should be the sold recipient since he had more first place votes, but funnily enough, this isn’t addressed in the league rules. I’d say let’s line them up 60 feet and 6 inches away from each other and let them throw balls at each other until we have a victor. At the plate was the most feared lineup top to bottom, highlighted by a dominant 3-4-5 middle. Japan’s top hitter Kozuru hit 38 homers and stole 19 bases to set the tone. The corner outfielder would probably have brought home the Joe Jackson award if it was not for Ron Northey of the Giants with his new HR record of 48. Makoto was followed by NL Rookie of the Year Walt Dropo who was no slouch in his own right. How would you like to have your cleanup spot go for 34HR, 119RBI and bat 0.320? Rounding out this set is Jim Zapp who only hit 0.292. But with the two guys in front of him he had no troubles batting in 110 while depositing an additional 28 in the bleachers. Around this core were a number of solid players who would be household names had they played in towns like Washington or St. Louis. Guys like Jackie Robinson, Joe Greene, and Mickey Vernon. Or if pitching is more your thing, Dean, Noguchi, and Brissie. One thing if for sure, if the clubs in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis want a chance at the postseason anytime soon, they’d better figure a way to slow these boys down. To the Joe Wood and Bob Smyk awards add a probable Manager of the year for Giovacchini and a Hall of Fame induction for Dizzy Dean. This must be one of the most hardware heavy years in history.

 

Tough lessons like the one learned by Cub fans over the last 15 years never go away, they just like a change of scenery every once in a while. The fans in Philly hope this one moves on sooner rather than later. The Phillies have represented the NL the past two seasons and are tired of being the last team to lose. Betto, Collins, and Rapp should be around for a while and will keep this team in the race in the mediocre NL East. As for their city-mates their 98 win season ended sour at the hands of the 78 win White Sox. This pale hose squad just knows how to win when it counts, ending the season just a game above the reigning champion Tigers. The Sox have made a living mixing youth with trades and experienced free-agents. While much is up in the air in the AL, the A’s and Red Sox may be the only sure bets. In the end the city of Philadelphia had to watch a cross-town World Series from afar.

 

But now is the time to watch the Cub faithful enjoy their time in the sun. It’s difficult to imagine a world where the Cubs wouldn’t succeed. A bizarro world where they make the playoffs every 50 years and where the owners care only to put questionable talent on the field while charging for stars. This bizarro world would have curses and unbelievable turns of events during critical games, would have wild personalities calling games and be a place where people go not for the play on the field but for the social experience on aluminum benches.

 

Thank goodness this is only possible in my imagination.

Last Updated on Sunday, 15 April 2012 14:26
 
Pale Hose FINALLY win it ALL! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Carl Mitchell   
Sunday, 18 December 2011 17:52

Its been a long 43 seasons for owner Carl Mitchell, but in the unlikeliest of seasons, the White Sox finally got over the hump and won the BB2F/BOY World Series Title! In a year where the team wasn't expected to play better than .500 baseball, nor be able to win the AL West over the mighty Detroit Tigers, with their stars Stan Musial and Yogi Berra, the Southsiders showed incredible fortitude and did what nobody could have foreseen.

The credit for the team's success is widespread amongst the players, but nobody would argue the addition of future Hall of Fame Catcher Josh Gibson back in April in a trade with the only team he had ever played for, the Boston Braves, was the major catalyst for everything the Team accomplished.

The 35 year old Gibson didn't have his best statistical season, but still hit .321 with 23 HR and 84 RBI after joining the Sox, good for a VORP of 52.1 while with the team. He provided the leadership that was sorely needed on the squad. Gibson had been to the playoffs 4 times with Boston, and to the World Series once, but had never won. His hunger for the Championship Ring drove the team. He was joined by 36 year old veteran Hank Greenberg, who knocked in 99 while hammering 20 HR to provide the majority of offensive punch. Greenberg had never been to the playoffs in his long, great career. Young 3B Gil Hodges was the 3rd point in the power trio, and despite a late season injury, he was able to come back for The Series and provide much needed help against the vaunted Cubs. Gibson and Greenberg were both inked to extensions during the season, so the three will be together at least 3 more seasons barring injury or retirement.

I would be remiss to mention that All-Time great White Sox, 39 year old Ray Brown, will indeed get his Ring, despite missing the majority of the season injured after messing up his arm on May 30th. He did have a winning season for the Sox, going 5-4. He started every game he pitched in, and all 5 victories were needed! He is expected to be released by the White Sox, who will eat the final year of his contract to make room for younger players. There is no doubt now that his career is complete.

The Sox pitching was definitely a surprise this season. The team featured no Ace, yet was steady across the rotation of starters and relievers. Their combined ERA of 3.64 was good for 2nd in the AL. Washington had former Sox Bob Lemon, and Detroit traded for Lefty LaMarque, both of whom had amazing seasons, yet it was the Sox rag-tag 5 man rotation that led to the AL pennant! By playoff time, the team pared down to 3 starters and relied on the Pen. Those starters were fantastic, though.

Former National Lefty Wilkie, a Canadian, was definitely the MVP of the playoffs for the White Sox. The Sox got him in the Lemon trade back in 1945. He has bounced between the rotation and the bullpen in his Sox career, even starting in the pen this season. He was moved to the rotation on August 30 to replace the injured Elmer Singleton. He immediately caught fire and never cooled down. His performance forced the Blue Eyed Japanese, Vic Starffin, to the bullpen for the playoffs! Wilkie then went 3-0 in the playoffs, with a 1.13 ERA and 0.78 whip, including 2-0 in the World Series where he gave up only 1 run in 15 innings pitched. He earned the Win in the Title-winning game, with a save by the displaced Starffin for good measure. Pretty good for a one and a half star swingman.

Fellow starters Andy Lapihuska and Paul "Lefty" Minner were also spectacular in the postseason. In fact, Lapihuska did not allow an earned run in 3 playoff starts, and was the winner in the clinching game over Washington in the ALCS. Minner, pitching in only his 2nd major league season, had the honor of facing the other team's Ace in the Opening Games of both the ALCS and the World Series. That tough assignment led to a post-season record of 2-2, but his ERA was a meager 0.86 and he had a whip of 0.99! You cannot ask any more of 3 starting pitchers than what the White Sox got in the Playoffs! Just goes to show that in baseball, anything can happen if your players get hot at the right time. It was magical.

One other player to mention is 32 year old 2B John Antonelli, who nearly claimed the World Series MVP for himself. Antonelli somehow managed to hit 2 HRs and knock in 5 runs in the World Series, with a total playoff batting average of .341 with a .943 OPS! Completely unexpected! He was signed in the preseason with the intention of being a backup infielder, but ended up manning 2B for most of the season as the starter despite his offensive woes. He found himself an important role player on the team which decided not to re-sign long-time 2B Stan Sperry after 1946 (who ended his season on the Cubs' World Series roster, oddly enough). He is a lifetime .197 hitter in 3 regular seasons, with only 8 HRs to his name. Again, it was magical.

So the off-season begins, with another World Series Title for the Great City of Chicago, but this time its home is on the South Side for the next year! There will be changes to the team, including a hard good-bye to a loyal long-time friend in Ray Brown, but standing still gets you passed by in today's game. I just want to say I LOVE this League, and I cannot be happier than I am at this moment. And its good to finally beat Mike!

 
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