On May 21, 1960, the Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees completed a two game series in New York. The White Sox had come to town in the unfamiliar position of (a) defending American League champions and (b) the first place team. They led the Yankees, who were tied for third, by a game and a half.
The White Sox had no reason to think they were in a false position. As I have detailed in other posts, the team had beefed up its attack by adding sluggers Roy Sievers, Minnie Minoso, Gene Freese. Minoso was tearing up the league. Sievers and Freese weren’t producing at all, which suggested that Chicago would play even better once these two hit their stride (and both did). If you were White Sox fan, life was good.
It was even better after the Chisox took both games from the Yanks. On Friday the 20th, Early Wynn bested Whitey Ford in a battle of future Hall of Famers. Ford left for a pinch hitter after six innings trailing 2-1. Chicago went on the win 5-3. Ted Kluszewski, the slugger obtained late in the 1959 season, drove in four of the five runs.
On Saturady the 21st, in a game plagued by two long rain delays, Chicago prevailed 9-8. The Yankees out-homered Chicago 4-0 (including two by the newly acquired Roger Maris), but the Sox banged out 16 hits, 14 of them singles. They scored the winning run in the seventh inning in typical White Sox style — Aparicio singled, advanced to second on a ground out by Fox, and scored on a Minoso single.
The White Sox left town for Washington late that evening leading the Yanks (who were now alone in fourth place) by 3.5 games. But a funny thing happened in Washingon the next day — the lowly Senators took a doubleheader from Chicago, 7-5 and 3-2. Perhaps their late arrival in D.C. had something to do with it. Unearned runs, the result of an error by outstanding defensive center fielder Jim Landis, provided the margin of victory for the Senators in the first game.
From there, It would be all downhill for the White Sox. By the end of May, they were in third place, 3.5 games out of first, though still ahead of the Yankees. But June 21, they were in fourth place, five games behind first place New York. They would finish in third, ten games back.
What was the problem? Mostly bad luck, I think. There was little in the statistics to separate the White Sox and the Yankees that year. The two teams scored almost exactly the same number of runs and gave up almost exactly the same number, as well.
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