This Day in White Sox History: MJ holds off the Cubs

This Day in White Sox History: MJ holds off the Cubs
The greatest basketball player of all-time, Michael Jordan, takes some swings with the White Sox. Jordan played one season for the team.

April 7, 1970 - The worst White Sox team in history began their forgettable season getting pounded 12-0 at home by the Twins. Sox starting pitcher Tommy John only lasted into the fifth inning. The Sox would go on to lose a franchise record 106 games. 

April 7, 1971 - Charlie Finley, the A’s owner, got  the first regularly scheduled opening day double header in history but was stunned when the Sox under manager Chuck Tanner beat them twice 6-5 and 12-4. Tommy John and Bart Johnson were the winning pitchers. The Sox clubbed five home runs on the day, including a grand slam by Bill Melton. It should have been six homers except that Carlos May somehow missed touching home plate on his blast. The A’s picked up on it and tagged him out when he was sitting in the dugout. May talked about the play when I interviewed him years later.

“As I was rounding third base the bench was empty. I mean nobody was in the dugout, they were all at home plate. As I got towards home they mobbed me and I guess I never touched the plate. I don’t know how Gene Tenace, the A’s catcher, saw that I missed it with everybody around. I was in the dugout when Tenace got a new ball, came over and tagged me and the umpire said I was out. I was embarrassed! (laughing)”

This was also Harry Caray’s first regular season game as Sox announcer although at the time not a whole lot of folks could hear him. Three straight awful years caused the Sox to lose their radio contract with any mainstream Chicago station. For the next two years Sox games were broadcast on WTAQ (LaGrange) and WEAW (Evanston), two low powered stations.

April 7, 1973 - On opening day in Texas, Mike Andrews became the first White Sox DH. He hit sixth in the lineup for manager Chuck Tanner. He went 1 for 3 in the Sox 3-1 win behind Wilbur Wood

Andrews would tell me more about that historic at bat when I had the chance to speak with him.

"Not only was I the first Sox DH, but I was the second ever in the league. They had some guy tracking it. New York played at home and they started earlier then we did. It was either Ron Blomberg or the guy from the team the Yankees were playing who was first, then I came up to hit. For me, the DH was a blessing. I was having throwing problems. It was just like Steve Blass, Steve Sax and Chuck Knoblauch. They called it ‘throwing yips’. Nobody knows why it happens but on balls hit right to me where I had a second or two to think about it, I just couldn’t make the throw. When I had to move and throw, I didn’t have any problems. I also didn’t have any problems in practice. Just DH’ing was great for me because it was eating away at me. I started out really hot and Sports Illustrated did a story on me called ‘Super DH’ or something like that, but I knew that I was getting a lot of cheap hits at the time. It didn’t last."

April 7, 1977 - The White Sox introduced American League baseball to Canada as they played the first game against the expansion Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays outslugged the Sox in a driving snowstorm to win 9-5. But it was the start of something much bigger; the “South Side Hitmen” were born.

April 7, 1984 - The Tigers Jack Morris threw the last no-hitter at the original Comiskey Park when he shut down the Sox 4-0 on the NBC Saturday “Game of the Week.” The Sox had their chances; including loading the bases on walks in the fourth inning with no out, but could never get the key hit.

April 7, 1993 - On his first swing of the season, future Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk would blast his final major league home run. It would come off the Twins Jim Deshaies in the third inning and be the only run scored by the Sox in a 6-1 loss. Fisk would be released by the Sox in June.

April 7, 1994 - In the annual “Crosstown Classic” charity game between the Sox and Cubs, Michael Jordan wrote his name into Sox lore. His double in the late innings tied the game and prevented the Sox from losing for the first time in this series. The game would end in a tie. The Sox would go 10-0-2 in this affair that lasted from 1985 through 1995. (Two games were played in 1995)

Want to read up on the White Sox farm system and stars of tomorrow? Check out Future Sox.

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