SI Vault
Walter Bingham
September 07, 1959
In the innocence of early spring, Al Lopez, the manager of the Chicago White Sox, believed that beating the Yankees meant winning the pennant. So did everyone else. But as summer burned its way toward fall, it became clear that Lopez, and everyone else, had been wrong. The White Sox, after years of trying, had finally beaten the Yankees, but the pennant was not yet theirs. Cleveland, too, had beaten the Yankees and was pressing Chicago hard. Last week, with the White Sox leading the Indians by a game and a half, the two teams met in Cleveland for a four-game series, the most important games of the season thus far.
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September 07, 1959

...four Big Games For The Sox

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"You nervous before this crucial series, Al?" one of them asked.

Lopez looked at the man. "Why should I be nervous?"

Joe Gordon, Cleveland's manager, was also answering questions. Yes, he thought Cleveland could win. Of course he did. All the Indians had to do was play steady ball, the same as they had played in their last eight games, all of which they had won. You can't make mistakes against the White Sox, Gordon said.

Game time had arrived. Municipal Stadium had filled and still there were people coming in.

"Standing room only," boomed a loudspeaker outside the stadium. There were fans in nearly every seat. They were packed in the outfield, between the wire fence and the permanent stands. They were in the aisles and on the ramps. They were loud. When the Cleveland lineup was announced, the noise drowned out neighborly conversation. There were over 70,000 people on hand.

They saw a good game. The Indians tied the score at 3-3 in the fifth and had two men on base with one out. Tito Francona was up. Chicago's pitcher, Bob Shaw, looked very tired. His uniform was soaking wet. But he got Francona to pop up. That brought up Rocky Colavito, and surely Casey of Mudville never received such a roar. Rocky responded with a long drive, deep into the seats, but a few feet foul. Then he swung a third time, and this time he missed.

Shaw was never again in trouble. In the seventh inning, Chicago's Sherm Lollar hit a long fly ball with two men on. Minnie Minoso had it, then bumped against the wire fence and the ball popped out of his glove and over the fence for a three-run home run. That was the game. The White Sox lead opened to 2� games.

The next afternoon, with 50,000 people sitting in miserable heat, the game went six innings with no score. Jim Perry, Cleveland's fine rookie pitcher, had the White Sox in hand. Then in the seventh, with two out and the speedy Jim Landis on first, Earl Torgeson singled to left field. Minnie Minoso was anxious to hold Landis to second base and, in his haste, let the ball roll two feet behind him. That was all Landis needed. He never stopped at third and, although the play at home was close, Landis was safe. The Sox added a run in the eighth on another bit of sparkling base running, this time by the veteran Jim Rivera, and won 2-0. Dick Donovan pitched the shutout. The White Sox lead was now 3� games.

The Cleveland dressing room, which had been surprisingly chipper after the Friday night loss, was like the inside of a coffin after Saturday's game. Players sat silently on their stools, talking only in whispers. The situation was critical. Nothing but a double-header victory on Sunday could salvage the series.

On Sunday another huge crowd (more than 66,000) turned out, noisy and enthusiastic. But with Cleveland ahead 2-0 in the fifth, Chicago's tough old pitcher, Early Wynn, drove a home run deep to right field, and that undid the Indians. The White Sox scored four more runs that inning and went on to win 6-3. Their lead had grown to 4� games.

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