By Phil Ellenbecker
Almost three days to the day, three and four years after wild affairs took place between the Kansas City A’s and White Sox in April, the two teams were at it again on April 22, 1959.
On April 23, 1955, the White Sox clobbered Kansas City 29-6 at Municipal Stadium in just the 10th game for the A’s in their first year in the city after moving from Philadelphia.
On April 21, 1956, the A’s whipped the White Sox 15-1 at Municipal behind a 13-run second inning in which all the runs crossed the plate with two out to tie a major league record.
And on this Wednesday in 1959 the White Sox subdued Kansas City 20-6, again at Municipal. You could say clobbered, whipped, hammered, whipped, belted or any other verb associated with a barrage of hits, but subdued is more apt because of the manner in which the White Sox piled up 11 runs in the seventh inning to put this game away.
What did they actually do? Not much, at least with the bat. The Athletics put the 7,446 in attendance to sleep by issuing 10 walks.
While the ChiSox collected 16 hits in the game, they needed just one to push across the 11 in the seventh. That’s because besides the 10 walks, the Chicagos reached twice on errors, picked up more bases on a Roger Maris error, and got hit by a pitch.
The errors came on the first three batters of the inning. Only two of Chicago’s runs in the inning were earned. The White Sox drew eight bases-loaded walks in the inning. A’s pitchers had two strings of four straight walks and another of three, and one of the four-walk strings was interrupted by the hit by pitch.
The 10 walks issued by the A’s were one short of the major league record for an inning set Sept. 11, 1949, by the Washington Senators against the New York Yankees.
The A’s were actually in this one entering the seventh, trailing 8–6 after letting a 6-1 lead through two innings slip away.
Tom Morgan, Kansas City’s fourth pitcher on the day coming on in relief in the seventh, might have escaped with no damage with a little help. But Ray Boone reached leading off the inning on Joe DeMaestri’s error at shortstop, and both runners were safe when third baseman Hal Smith botched Al Smith’s sacrifice bunt attempt. Johnny Callison followed with a single for the lone White Sox hit of the inning, scoring Boone, and Al Smith scored and Callison moved to third on right fielder Maris’ error.
Luis Aparicio, pitcher Bob Shaw, Earl Torgeson (Mark Freeman relieving Morgan in the middle of Torgeson’s at-bat) and Nellie Fox drew four straight walks. Torgeson and Fox brought in runs to increase Chicago’s lead to 12-6. Jim Landis hit back to the pitcher for a fielder’s choice and first out of the inning, then the walk parade resumed with Sherm Lollar, Boone, Smith and Aparicio looking at free passes around Callison getting plunked by a pitch. Each of these at-bats brought in a run, making the score 17-6.
George Brunet relieved Freeman after Lollar batted and finished the inning. (Brunet was in the third year of a 15-year major league career that led to a 15-year career in the Mexican League that ended in 1989 at at the age of 54. Brunet is also noted in JIm Bouton’s “Ball Four” as the pitcher who didn’t wear underwear.)
After Brunet struck out Shaw, Bubba Phillips and Fox drew two more bases-loaded walks to bring the score to 19-6 before the inning mercifully ended when Landis went pitcher-to-first for the third out.
So Landis was responsible for two outs in the inning, both on balls hit back to the pitcher.
Shaw got the victory in relief of his mentor and Hall of Famer Early Wynn, finishing with 7 1/3 innings of shutout pitching.
Bud Daley took the loss for the A’s. In 1 2/3 innings he gave up three runs that allowed the White Sox to go ahead for good, after Ned Garver allowed five runs over 3 2/3 innings and left with K.C. still ahead 6-5.
Chicago’s stellar double-play combination of Fox and Aparicio, besides drawing two walks apiece in the fateful seventh, otherwise shined with the bat. Fox, the American League MVP that year, was 4 for 5 with five RBis. Aparicio went 3 for 4 with four RBIs and three runs scored, including a three-run homer in the fourth inning off Garver.
The White Sox went on to win the AL pennant that year, ending a four-year Yankees string, and lost the World Series to the Dodgers in six games.
The A’s finished seventh in the eight-team AL for the third straight year, with a 66-88 record.