Random Thoughts on a Baseball Photograph

ted and the sawx vs sox
Written by James Boyce

I came across this photo and I really liked it. The black and white contrasts, the pitcher and catcher warming up, the ball in the air, how the light seems to be act like a spot light, and the batter waiting, observing it all. It was also fun tracking down what game this was – Ted Williams is the batter, and it’s Boston vs. Sox in old Comiskey Park – but when? Its 2-1 top of the 6th but I couldn’t quite make out the right side of the score board until an eagle-eyed friend pointed out that the last two columns were the #s of the battery mates of each team – Billy Pierce and Sherm Lollar for the White Sox, and Frank Sullivan and Pete Daley for the Red Sox. Then it was easy to find via the Baseball Reference website.

The night was August 23rd, 1957, and Billy Pierce went the distance in a 4-1 win. It took two hours and twenty minutes. Ted Williams went 0-4 that night to drop his batting average down to .382. He finished at .388 with a .526 OBP, and second in MVP voting to Mickey Mantle, who hit a not too shabby .365. It was Williams 4th second place finish, beaten each time by Yankees – besides Mantle, twice by Joe DiMaggio and once by Joe Gordon. Three years later he would retire. Billy Pierce came in 11th that year in the voting. His teammates Nellie Fox, 2B, and Minnie Minoso, LF, came in 4th and 6th respectively. Fox won the MVP two years later in 1959 and had 5 other top-ten MVP finishes. Both Minoso and Pierce were recent candidates considered by the Golden Era committee for the Hall of Fame. Neither received enough votes, and no one was elected from the group of 10 candidates they considered. Minoso came in 4th in MVP balloting four times. Pierce placed 5th one year in MVP voting and 3rd one year in the Cy Young voting.

The White Sox would come in second in 1957 and the year after, finally winning the pennant in 1959. It was their first pennant since 1919 and their last until their championship year in 2005. They lost to the Dodgers in six games (Sandy Koufax had yet to morph into the unhittable Sandy Koufax). It was the only series between 1949 and 1964 that there were no New York teams playing. However, if you count ex-New York teams, then you would have to wait until 1967, when the Red Sox finally made it back to the Series against the Cardinals. It was the Red Sox’s first pennant since 1946, the year Ted Williams won the first of his two MVPs.

Sherm Lollar, C, played 18 years in the bigs, mostly with the White Sox, and finished ninth in the MVP balloting in ’58 and ’59, swatting around 20 HRs and driving in around 80 runs in both years. Pete Daley, C, played 7 years in the bigs, 5 with the Red Sox. His battery mate that night Frank Sullivan, SP, played 11 seasons, 8 with Boston, and he was a two-time all-star in ’55 and ’56. Some other players of the game that night – for the Red Sox, Jimmy Piersall, CF, of backwards base running fame; Frank Malzone, 3B, who came in 7th in the MVP voting in ’57 and 2nd in the ROY voting, behind Tony Kubek; Jackie Jensen, RF, who won the AL MVP in ’58; Gene Mauch, 2B, who in 1960 started his long managerial career; for the White Sox, Luis Aparicio, SS, who won the Rookie of the Year in ’56 and led the league in stolen bases for 9 years in a row. He also nabbed 9 Gold Gloves and a second place MVP to his teammate Fox in ’59; Larry Doby, CF, who broke the AL color barrier with Cleveland in ’47, and who also had a second place MVP to Yogi Berra in ’54; Earl Torgeson, 1B, who shared the nickname “The Earl of Snohomish”, with Earl Averill, who starred earlier for mostly the Cleveland Indians. Both hailed from Snohomish, Washington. The lineup that night featured 4 eventual Hall of Famers, three for the White Sox (Aparicio, Doby, and Fox) and one for the Red Sox (Williams).

One of the more notable players who played for both Sox teams was Carlton Fisk, who played 11 years with the Red Sox and 13 years with the White Sox. He also reversed his #s, 27 with Boston and 72 with Chicago. Another was Hall of Famer Harry Hooper, who played 12 years with the Red Sox, playing on four championship teams in the 1910s, and ended his career with 5 seasons with the White Sox.

Comiskey Park was built in 1910, the third concrete and steel stadium built since 1909. The first two were Shibe Park and Forbes Field. It sat 32,000 and its original dimensions were 363 down the lines, 382 in the alleys, and 420 to center. Lights were added in 1939 and an electronic scoreboard was added in CF in 1951. The scoreboard was replaced in 1960 by a monster-sized exploding scoreboard, the brainchild of owner Bill Veeck. The park’s last season was in 1990.

Just some random thoughts on a baseball photograph of a late summer night baseball game in Chicago of ’57… Billy Pierce warms up, and Ted Williams waits …

tedwilliamsGood luck pitchers, this guy can hit.

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