CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Bill Veeck shoots off fireworks in Comiskey Park, and his White Sox are skyrockets on the bases. But they are an old team, and their age is starting to show
April 10, 1961

ANALYSIS OF THE WHITE SOX

STRONG POINTS
Primarily, good balance—the White Sox have a full cupboard of hitters, fielders, pitchers. In their single best years, Early Wynn won 23, Herb Score 20, Billy Pierce 20, Cal McLish 19, Gerry Staley 19, Bob Shaw 18 and Frank Baumann 13. All but Staley can start. Score, Pierce, Baumann are lefties, the others righty, so Manager Al Lopez can juggle his pitchers according to opponents. Top hitters are Nellie Fox, Roy Sievers, Al Smith, Minnie Minoso. Last two each hit over .300 last year, last three drove in 280 runs among them. Sox get brilliant fielding and base running from Shortstop Luis Aparicio and Center Fielder Jim Landis. The pair of them stole 74 bases last year, more than any other American League team did.

WEAK SPOTS
White Sox are old. They became an old team last year after they traded two fine young catchers, Earl Battey and John Romano, for two aging hitters, Sievers and Minoso, in gamble for second straight pennant. Now they are left with a collection of old men. Roll call: Sherm Lollar, 36; Fox, 33; Sievers, 34; Minoso, 37; Smith, 33. Pitchers Wynn, Staley, McLish and Pierce are 41, 40, 35, 34. Utility men Earl Torgeson, Billy Goodman, Jim Rivera are 37, 35, 38. When the hot days come, the aging Sox may find that the run from home to first takes a depressingly long time.

THE BIG IFS
Cal McLish won 16 games in the American League in 1958, 19 the next year. Then he was traded to the National League, and he won only four. Now, back in the American, under the wise hand of Manager Lopez, a return to form by McLish would help the White Sox enormously. Herb Score has been an if for four seasons now. But when a man has as much speed as Score has and is still young (26), it makes sense to assume that he can star again.

ROOKIES AND NEW FACES
Besides McLish, an old new face, there is Juan Pizarro, the ex-Milwaukee pitching puzzle, and J.C. Martin, a 24-year-old rookie third baseman. Pizarro, a left-hander, was at times brilliant with the Braves, but more often he would lapse into a moody indifference. Martin is 6 feet 3 and bats left-handed. Last year he hit .285 at San Diego. He's the third baseman, mostly because there's no one else to play there.

OUTLOOK
The White Sox will be a contender. It is reasonable to suppose they will take an early lead in the race. But later, they will be struggling to hold on. If they start slowly they could collapse into the second division.

AN AGING PLUS

Manager Al Lopez sat in the dugout out of the sun and said, "I'll tell you one reason we decided to get Juan Pizarro from Milwaukee. He had a plus factor. That's a measuring rod we use to rate a pitcher, especially if we haven't seen him pitch much. It comes in handy in a case like Pizarro, who spent all his time in the National League."

Lopez opened a record book. "Now let's see. Last year Pizarro pitched 115 innings and gave up 105 hits. Subtract the hits from the innings and he gets a plus-10. He walked 72 men and struck out 88. That's a plus-16 and a total of plus-26. We consider that more of a guide than his 6-7 record last year."

Lopez turned to Bob Shaw's record. "Shaw was 18-6 in 1959. He had a plus-49. Last year he was 13-13. He was minus-44. It works with just about everybody except Early Wynn. He is always plus, good year or bad. But then there's only one Wynn."

Pizarro is 24 and has enough good stuff in his pitching repertoire to conquer the world. But in four seasons—or part-seasons—with the Milwaukee Braves, he never hit it big. Roy Sievers and Lopez were talking about him behind the batting cage one day. Sievers said that Del Rice, who used to catch for Milwaukee, told him that Pizarro had a real good fast ball, but that he was lazy and didn't like to throw it. Lopez said that Lou Burdette had told him the same thing, that Pizarro was always junking around with odd pitches instead of blazing the ball in to the batter. But Lopez is a patient man. He said: "We'll give him a little work and then maybe a little hell. We'll have to see what works." Knowing Lopez's genius for mending broken pitchers, such as Frank Baumann last year, young Pizarro could be a valuable extra starter for the old White Sox.

Bill Veeck's explosive scoreboard will be setting off its rockets, sirens and whistles again this season, waking up the neighbors around Comiskey Park whenever a White Sox player hits a home run. The board erupted 58 times last year, 57 times for home runs and once by error. (The trigger man lost sight of a long drive, thought it had gone over the fence for a home run and pushed the firing button just as the ball was caught.) Minnie Minoso set the board off the first time, and Roy Sievers the last.

The board provoked considerable resentment from rival players, especially the day it went through two cycles of explosions for only one home run. But there were only two cases of outright counterattack. The Cleveland Indians' Jimmy Piersall, baseball's angry man, hurled a ball at the board after one game. He was scolded immediately after the game by Veeck, who told him, in effect, to "spray bugs, yell at umpires, stand on your head, but leave my board alone."

Casey Stengel, the noted humorist, used a more subtle revenge. One hot June night Mickey Mantle hit a home run in Chicago. As he circled the bases, the entire New York Yankee team, led by Stengel, moved to the front of the dugout and proudly waved holiday sparklers to the crowd. For one of the few times in his life, Bill Veeck was speechless.

THE FRONT OFFICE
Enthusiasm and a sport shirt are President Bill Veeck's trademarks. His father was once president of the Chicago Cubs. At age 11 Bill was a Cub office boy; at 27 he was treasurer. He owned the Cleveland Indians (1946-49) and St. Louis Browns (1951-53), led syndicate (including Hank Greenberg) that bought 54% of the White Sox stock from Dorothy Comiskey Rigney in 1959. Brother Chuck Comiskey still holds other 46%, which Veeck & Co. would dearly like to obtain. Greenberg is the vice-president and treasurer and handles, with Veeck, the duties of a general manager. Hank, named to the Hall of Fame in 1956, was general manager of Cleveland Indians from 1950 through 1957. He and Veeck are close friends, work together well. The farm system is run by capable Glen Miller.

THE BALL PARK
Comiskey Park (46,550 capacity) was big, unattractive stadium in run-down section of town when Bill Veeck took over ball club before 1959 season. Urban renewal, including construction of superhighway a few blocks from park, has cleaned out much of neighboring slums, stadium has been painted inside and out (a fresh-looking white on the outside). About 3½ miles due south of The Loop, 20 minutes by car (faster, if you know shortcuts), 20 to 25 by bus, seven to nine minutes by subway and el (except you walk ¾ mile from el stop). Parking utilizes private lots in neighborhood, totals about 8,000 spaces. Easier for fans to get into and out of park since Veeck surveyed traffic flow, built new ticket booths and entrances. Picnic area under left-field stands. Famous landmark: Veeck's spectacular firework-shooting scoreboard.

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PHOTOSHERM LOLLAR PHOTOMINNIE MINOSO PHOTOAL SMITH PHOTOROY SIEVERS ILLUSTRATIONBILL CHARMATZ

1960 TEAM PERFORMANCE

FINISHED

WON

LOST

GAMES BEHIND

3

87

67

10

1960 INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCES

BATTING

PITCHING

Smith

.315

Pierce

14-7

Minoso

.311

Baumann

13-6

Sievers

.295

Wynn

13-12

HOME RUNS

RUNS BATTED IN

Sievers

28

Minoso

105

Minoso

20

Sievers

93

Smith

12

Smith

72

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)