The Cubs gave me the night off last night when they beat the Phillies, and it looked like I’d have another night off tonight, so I started playing around with the idea of writing about my useless library card. Perhaps that will be some other post in the future. But instead, Sean Marshall made sure that I would get back to counting down to the #DoubleTriple tonight.
1970 Chicago White Sox
Expansion team: No
Overall record: 56-106
# of win streaks of 3 games or more: Three
Manager(s): Don Gutteridge, Bill Adair, and Chuck Tanner
Hall of Famers on roster: Luis Aparicio, Luke Appling (served as first base coach)
100 loss seasons since: None
Pennant wins since: Don’t make me say this…2005 (and I really don’t want to add this part…(World Series winner) I need to go lie down now.
Ah, the White Sox. It takes a Chicagoan to appreciate how divided this city is when it comes to baseball. Every other professional sport has but one team, and everybody rallies behind them when they win. But baseball is an entirely different thing altogether.
It’s like the sheep and the goats with my team and that other team across town. So I will enjoy writing this, since I won’t get another chance to chronicle their misfortunes like this. It’s comforting to know that they have done something more recently than the Cubs (besides that whole World Series thing).
Cubs fans have this thing about attendance figures. A few years ago, crowds of 39,000+ were the norm at Wrigley, and crowds of 22,000 were the norm at that ballpark that I will always think of as the New Comiskey. With that wide disparity in fan support, obviously it means the Cubs have better fans than the White Sox. Right?
I’m obviously not trying to make that point here. But it was pretty hard to ignore the fact that Wrigley Field was routinely packed, while the White Sox–even in good years–had greater struggles with filling seats. But when I started to research the 1970 White Sox, I had to turn away from what I found.
On Opening day of the 1970 season, the White Sox lost 12-0 to the Twins. In hindsight, it was a harbinger of things to come. But still, it was Opening Day, the day you look forward to when you’re freezing in February. Six months of pent-up demand for baseball, and finally comes the time to scratch that baseball itch. It surely was a powerful incentive to the 11,473 fans who showed up at the real Comiskey Park that day.
April baseball is certainly a dicey proposition in Chicago. So when all the hoopla surrounding Opening Day is over, attendance falls off immediately. And so it was for the White Sox that year. The next game they played drew nearly 1,500 fans, and the game after that drew barely more than a thousand. It’s hard to imagine what those numbers would look like in in a ballpark designed for 52,000 fans.
By late September, the team had fallen to 43 games under .500, and was well on their way to 100 losses, when they came home for the final homestand of the season. It was late September, and kids were back in school, and football season had started, and the baseball interest was up North, where the Cubs were trying to catch the Pirates in their division. So why would anyone want to go to a Sox game? It turns out that very few people did. 672 people showed up for a doubleheader one day, and 693 came out a few days later. Put a bad team on the field, and that’s what happens. Unless you play at Clark and Addison.
The White Sox did begin to improve the next year, but the South Side Hitmen days of the late 70s were still a few years off. And, as I have grudgingly acknowledged before, they have since done what I can only dream about as far as the World Series goes.
With the next Cubs loss, I’ll forge ahead deeper into the 1970s. Should be fun.