If anyone’s wondering what I’m doing: I miss baseball in the offseason. I try to come up with fun projects to kill time. This winter, my project takes me back to something I did a lot on in the mid-2000s … walk-offs. Looking for the most interesting and unusual ones I can find. If you would like to request one, please do. But keep in mind, I’m mostly avoiding the famous ones.
We spin the clock back to July 20, 1919 and a match between the first place White Sox and the second-place Yankees, who were 4.5 games behind in the standings.
This game was a pitcher’s duel, as most pre-1920 games were, between Eddie Cicotte of the White Sox and Ernie Shore of the Yankees. Shore’s claim to fame is a game in which he threw nine perfect innings of relief after a young pitcher named Babe Ruth was ejected after walking the first batter (Ruth reportedly punched the umpire). In this one, Shore allowed one run through nine, matching Cicotte, who yielded but one run and three hits through 10 frames.
A few of the White Sox were playing at positions different from what we know them for. Buck Weaver was at shortstop instead of Swede Risberg, who was subbing at first base for Chick Gandil. Fred McMullin started at Weaver’s usual spot, third base. What’s particularly jarring is that the lineup put forth by Kid Gleason features five consecutive hitters whose names we know as part of the banished Eight Men Out. Risberg’s sacrifice fly accounted for the White Sox only run through the first nine innings.
We can also note that these weren’t the Yankees of Ruth and Gehrig, but rather that of Wally Pipp and Home Run Baker. Duffy Lewis drove in the only run with a seventh-inning single.
There were 30,000 fans estimated to be in the crowd that day, described by the New York Herald as a “howling mob of rabid enthusiasts.”
With two outs in the 10th inning, you could hear a few of them, per the Chicago Tribune. “Into the bleachers this time” and “Hit it over the fence, Joe,” they yelled. Two pitches into the at-bat their cry was answered. One big wallop and the ball sailed over the fence.
It was the second of four consecutive walk-off wins by the White Sox, the first of three straight wins over the Yankees.
And it was the only walk-off home run of Shoeless Joe Jackson’s career.