THURSDAY, JUNE 11. Seven days ago a tiny, brown and expensive voodoo doll arrived in the general manager's office at Chicago's White Sox Park. There were nine sterling silver pins with the doll, and atop each pin was a triangular flag bearing the name of an American League team—all but the Chicago White Sox. General Manager Ed Short stuck the pin labeled " Detroit" into the doll and the Tigers promptly lost three of four games to Chicago. Some 50 hours later the Baltimore pin went into the doll and the White Sox won two of three from the Orioles.
Early this evening the doll, the pins, the pennants and the 30 men who wear White Sox uniforms boarded a chartered DC-6 for New York and five games with the Yankees in three days. After New York the White Sox will go to Baltimore for five games in four days, then back to Chicago for four games in three days with the Yankees. For more than a week now the 30 White Sox have been pestered by friends for tickets for those four games with the Yankees. Every baseball fan in Chicago knows how important the next 10 days are for the Sox: Chicago does not play New York or Baltimore in the months of July, September and October.
For the road trip each member of the Sox was equipped with a gray Samsonite three-suiter, $70 for meal money and a firm conviction that this team was going to become the third in 16 years to take a pennant away from the Yankees. In the hold of the plane were 1,500 pounds of equipment, including six dozen balls, two baby-blue road uniforms for each man and 70 bats. On the plane Manager Al Lopez, the only non-Yankee manager since 1948 to win an American League pennant, reiterated what he had said in Tampa in March. "The Yankees can be beaten this year," said Lopez. "Their pitching is not terribly strong, and last year they got great performances out of fellows who normally are not capable of that. This confused a lot of people and probably caused many to overrate them. They have good power and they field well, but they can be beaten. These next 10 days are big for us, but they are not what I would call crucial. It's too early in the season to use the word crucial." When the White Sox arrived in New York they heard the result of the game between the Yankees and Red Sox in Boston. New York, troubled all season by erratic pitching and hitting, had parlayed eight extra-base hits and the first complete game of the year from Pitcher Jim Bouton into an 8-4 victory. In his hotel room Ed Short took the voodoo doll from his suitcase and thrust in the New York pin.
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FRIDAY, JUNE 12. Going into the first game of tonight's doubleheader the Yankees seemed to be at a definite disadvantage. Yankee pitching had become so depleted that Steve Hamilton, who is normally used as a short-relief man, was called, on to start the five-game series. The White Sox had John Buzhardt ready, and the Yankees had not beaten Buzhardt in three years. Buzhardt said he felt fine before the game, but Hamilton admitted that he hadn't slept well the night before. "We have a new baby," he said. "Our first son after two girls. His name is Robert Christopher, and he was born the day we started on our last road trip. I just saw him once until yesterday." On Thursday, Hamilton had been sent back from Boston early so he could rest before his first start in two years, but Robert Christopher woke him five times during the night. "When I finally did get back to sleep," Hamilton said. "I had a hideous dream. I got traded to the Mets and they were just about to start a 60-game road trip. I couldn't get back to sleep after that."
Hamilton strained through the first five innings, throwing 83 pitches, but the Yankees gave him five runs in the sixth and went on to an easy 6-1 win. In the last four innings Hamilton needed only 43 pitches. Whitey Ford beat the White Sox easily in the second game 3-0. After the double loss Al Lopez said softly, "You can't win games unless you score runs. Ford, you figure, is going to pitch a great game, because he usually does. I thought we would beat Hamilton. We are still in good shape. The only way this series could be considered critical is if we lose all five games, and I certainly don't think that's about to happen. We just had a bad night."
SATURDAY, JUNE 13. It was a bleak day in New York, and the threat of rain cancelled batting practice. Still, Don Gutteridge, the White Sox first-base coach, accepted the two dozen new baseballs that every home team gives the visiting team for practice. "Every team keeps a count," said Gutteridge, "and at the end of the year you figure how many balls you owe them or they owe you and whoever owes pays back. We aren't worried about the balls. We need hitting work."
It did not rain, the game was played and the White Sox lost 6-3. The starting lineup for the Yankees (Kubek, Richardson, Maris, Mantle, Tresh, Howard, Pepitone, Linz) had three times as much experience as the Sox ( Hershberger, Weis, Ward, Hansen, Robinson, Nicholson, Cunningham, Carreon). In the Yankee dressing room after the game Manager Yogi Berra was happy but cautious. "We may be in trouble tomorrow," he said. Lopez was stunned. "If we can't do something tomorrow," he said, "we will be hurting real bad. We are ready with our best."
SUNDAY, JUNE 14. Although the White Sox lost the first three games of this series, they knew that today they had a big advantage: Juan Pizarro and Gary Peters were their pitchers for the doubleheader—their very best. The Yankkees had to use Bud Daley and Roland Sheldon—the bottom of the barrel. The Yankees, however, easily won the first game 8-3, and the second was a nightmare that the White Sox will have to work hard to forget. Peters coasted along with a 3-1 lead until the ninth inning, and then Shortstop Ron Hansen made two bad plays that enabled the Yankees to score two runs and tie the game. Lopez walked out, took the ball from Peters, bowed his head and kicked at the dirt on the mound. He was enduring one of the worst indignities in all his years as America's No. 1 Yankee-hater. New York scored a run in the 10th to win 4-3, and as John Blanchard, the Yankees' occasional outfielder, occasional catcher, ran in from the bullpen he saw something he had never seen before: "I looked over and there was Lopez standing on the top step of the dugout. His players were filing past him to the dressing room but he kept staring out into space. This whole series must have been like a kick in the guts. Now he has to go on and play Baltimore and then us again."
For 20 minutes no one said a word on the team bus taking the White Sox from Yankee Stadium to their chartered plane in Newark. On the 45-minute flight to Baltimore few could eat. On the South Side of Chicago a man sat down with a ballpoint pen and a sheet of clean white paper and wrote a letter to Ron Hansen. It said: