Tag Archives: Chicago White Sox

Harold Baines is the latest walk-off Hall-of-Famer

Congratulations to Harold Baines. That’s not for his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame, but rather his election to the Walk-Off Hall of Fame. Voting was done by a committee of one (me). To quote former NBA commissioner David Stern “It was a unanimous vote. One-zero.”

I know this was a controversial choice. There were certainly many worthy potential inductees, some of whom will likely be boosted by this selection in the future. I do feel that Baines is Walk-Off Hall-worthy.

The keynote to Baines’ election is the 25th-inning walk-off home run he hit for the White Sox against the Brewers on May 9, 1984. Baines’ current memory of that game, which was played over two days (it was suspended in the 18th inning) is foggy, per news reports from a few years ago, but to clear it up The game was tied 1-1 after 8. The Brewers scored two in the top of the ninth and the White Sox responded with two to tie it.

Neither team scored again until the Brewers tallied three runs in the top of the 21st. But the White Sox scored three of their own. Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk drove in the first one and Tom Paciorek drove in the other two.

After Hall-of-Famer Tom Seaver pitched a scoreless top of the 25th (not a misprint), Baines crushed a Chuck Porter pitch to straightaway centerfield, well over the fence for a game-winning home run. It concluded a game that lasted eight hours and six minutes, the longest by time in MLB history. The Baines home run was emblematic of his season. He hit a career-high 29 home runs that year and led the AL with a .541 slugging percentage.

If you want to see video highlights of the game, click here.

What else is noteworthy about Baines from a walk-off perspective?

– Baines had eight walk-off home runs for the White Sox, the most by anyone on the team in the time for which Baseball-Reference has complete data (dating to 1925) and presumably the most in franchise history. Joe Crede and Robin Ventura rank second with five. Hall-of-Famer Frank Thomas is well behind with three.

– He is the most recent player to hit two walk-off home runs in a season against the Yankees. He did it in 1996, both of John Wetteland, a year the Yankees won the World Series.

– His last of 18 walk-off RBI was a grand slam for the Orioles against his former team, the White Sox, as a 40-year-old in 1999. He tripled in a run as part of a rally to tie in the ninth (his first triple since the 1995 season), than hit the home run to win in the 10th.

– His first of 10 career walk-off home runs came as a rookie against a Hall-of-Famer, Ferguson Jenkins of the Rangers in 1980. It was described as a front-row shot by the Chicago Tribune. Said Baines afterwards: “I didn’t feel any excitement. I’m just not an emotional person.”

Here’s hoping he had a better reaction to Sunday’s news.

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Want to read about a 1919 White Sox walk-off?

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.