History of the Chicago White Sox: from 1900 to Now

Albert Mattheis

The Chicago White Sox are one of two MLB franchises residing in Chicago, and despite having a smaller fan base then their citymates the Cubs, the White Sox have a deep history and a loyal fanbase.

Originally named the White Stockings, owner Charles Comiskey moved the franchise to Chicago in 1900 and they went on to beat their fellow city-mates the Cubs in the 1906 world series. The White Sox acquired baseball legend “Shoeless” Joe Jackson in 1915, who currently holds the third highest batting average in major league history, and they went on to win the 1917 world series with him. Despite the early success, this era of White Sox history is overshadowed by the infamous “Black Box Scandal.”

One of the biggest controversies in sports history, it was alleged that members of organized crime paid White Sox players to fix the 1919 world series against the Cincinnati Reds. Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis oversaw the case that accused eight players, including “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, of receiving money from gamblers to throw the game. Although they were never proven guilty in court, all eight were banned from professional baseball permanently when Judge Landis was, as an externality, appointed as the first ever commissioner of the MLB and tasked with restoring integrity to the game of baseball. The “Black Box Scandal” has been referenced many times in pop culture, appearing everywhere from the Great Gatsby to the Godfather II.

Owner Charles Comiskey died and passed the franchise through two generations until being sold to a group led by baseball Hall of Famer Bill Veeck in 1958, which led to their first world series appearance since the “Black Box Scandal” in 1959. The White Sox lost many fans and baseball games throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s, a struggle epitomized by the infamous “Disco Demolition Night” in 1979.

Desperately trying to attract fans to their games, the White Sox advertised a promotion where they would blow up a crate full of disco records on the field in between a double header against the Detroit Tigers. The explosion destroyed part of the stadiums grass, but the real damage came afterwards when over 5,000 fans stormed the field and began rioting, destroying things, and stealing bases. As fans built bonfires in the stadium and refused to leave, the Chicago police department eventually had to break up the event which led to 39 arrests. The field was unusable for the game the second night against the Tigers and as a result the White Sox had to forfeit.

This was met with public backlash towards the front office and compounded the White Sox unpopularity, which ultimately led to Bill Veeck wanting to sell the team and different ownership groups trying to move the city to Milwaukee, Seattle, Denver, and Tampa.

Instead of relocating, the team remained in Chicago despite their struggles and in 1988 received funding for a new stadium from the state of Illinois. The new stadium led to good things in the 1990’s, as the White Sox found a star player in first baseman Frank Thomas who led the team to 12 winning seasons between 1990 and 2005. The White Sox swept the Houston Astros in the 2005 world series, bringing them their first championship win since 1917. Fast forward to today and the White Sox record has improved each year since 2014, posting a 73-89, 76-86, 78-84 line. The front office of the team appears to be geared towards a long term rebuild, trading All-Star pitcher Chris Sale and established veteran outfielder Adam Eaton for young prospects prior to the 2017 season.

Aside: N.W.A. rapper Eazy-E frequently wore a White-Sox hat.



Sources:

"The Chicago Black Sox banned from baseball". ESPN. November 19, 2003. Retrieved July 23, 2017. (http://www.espn.com/classic/s/black_sox_moments.html)

“1906 World Series” and “1917 World Series” Baseball Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved July 23rd, 2017.(https://www.baseball-reference.com/postseason/1906_WS.shtml and https://www.baseball-reference.com/postseason/1917_WS.shtml)
"Career Leaders & Records for Batting Average". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved July 23, 2017 (https://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/batting_avg_career.shtml)
“All Time Owners” WhiteSox.com. MLB Advanced Media. Retrieved July 23, 2017 (http://chicago.whitesox.mlb.com/cws/history/owners.jsp)