Random Box Score: July 22, 1994

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]or the capacity 41,844 fans in attendance at tonight’s game, the Albert Belle corked bat incident from the week before was on the minds for some. A Chicago Tribune article from the day after the game noted as much:

Surprise, surprise: It didn’t take long for someone to figure out a way to cash in on the corked bat controversy. Before Friday’s game, a 27-year-old Cleveland man named Doug Savocka stood on the sidewalk outside Jacobs Field selling two corks for $1. Savocka said he sold “a couple hundred” before Thursday’s game.

“We’re telling them to hold them up to make fun of Chicago,” Savocka said, apparently forgetting the fact that it was an Indian accused of corking a bat.

Savocka, who bought the corks from a winery, also asked fans to throw the corks at Sox players. “Just like the Browns fans throwing dog bones from the Dog Pound,” he said.

For the White Sox and the Indians, though, the larger matter at hand was who would win the game: after a victory the previous night, the Sox had a 3 game lead on their divisional opponent, and looked to increase that further; little did either team know the fireworks that were in store.

Cultural Trivia and Baseball Miscellany

If you listened to tonight’s game on the radio, maybe you changed the station during commercial breaks to listen to some music. The likelihood is high that had you done this, you would have heard the number one song atop the charts, “I Swear” by All-4-One. The song was nearing the end of its run at the leader position (it would be supplanted by Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories’ “Stay” on August 6), but had one of the longer runs of the year with 11 weeks on top.

In the film world, Forrest Gump was occupying the top spot at the box office, where it was on-and-off at the number one spot throughout the summer, and would end up grossing nearly $700 million worldwide. (As an aside: The Mask, starring Jim Carrey was number one the very next week. As you might recall from a Sox broadcast last year, though, the original isn’t, according to Eloy Jimenez, as good as the sequel, Son of the Mask)

In the baseball draft, the White Sox selected Mark Johnson with their first round (26th overall) pick. Some other notables from Sox selections: Jeff Abbott (4th round) and Eric Gagne (30th round). Around the league, a few players drafted by other teams who eventually made their way to the Sox: Paul Konerko (13th overall, Dodgers), A.J. Pierzynski (3rd round, Twins), Scott Podsednik (3rd round, Rangers), and Keith Foulke (9th round, Giants).

Hall of Fame-wise, three were voted in: Steve Carlton, Leo Durocher (as manager, Veteran’s Committee), and Phil Rizzuto (Veteran’s Committee).

The other big news from over the ’93-’94 offseason, of course, was the divisional realignment. The Central division was added for both leagues, with the Wild Card playoff berth also added.

And, finally, the elephant in the room: labor relations between the owners and the players were, shall we say, tense at the time. Six days after this game, the Players Association set August 12 as the date in which they would go on strike. As we’re all well aware, the strike did indeed take place, cancelling the rest of the season and the postseason.

The Umpires

  • HP: Dale Scott

Scott was an umpire from 1985 until this past season, 2017. He was the home plate umpire for the famous Andy Hawkins no-hitter loss against our Sox; he also saw both of Justin Verlander‘s no-hitters, working as the first base ump in Verlander’s first, and the third base ump in Verlander’s second. He’s interviewed in a fun and interesting segment on the Fangraphs podcast Effectively Wild, which you can listen to here.

  • 1B: Tim Tschida

Tschida worked from 1986-2012, and was the second base umpire in May’s edition of Random Box Score. He was the third base ump for Kenny Roger’s perfect game, which took place just six days after this game. He was also calling strikes and balls for Nolan Ryan‘s 7th no-hitter.

  • 2B: Rocky Roe

Roe had an umpiring career which spanned from 1979-2002. He was working home plate for the final game in Tiger Stadium.

  • 3B: Tim McClelland

McClelland umped from 1981-2013, and appeared in the first iteration of this series this past February. He worked in the World Series four times: 1993, 2000, 2002, and 2006. In addition to some notable games I mentioned in past articles, he was also the home plate umpire for the controversial “safe” call during the 2007 NL Wild Card Tiebreaker game between the Rockies and the Padres:

The Lineups

Chicago White Sox Cleveland Indians
  1. Joey Cora, 2B
  2. Tim Raines, LF
  3. Frank Thomas, 1B
  4. Julio Franco, DH
  5. Robin Ventura, 3B
  6. Darrin Jackson, RF
  7. Lance Johnson, CF
  8. Mike LaValliere, C
  9. Ozzie Guillen, SS
  10. Jason Bere, SP
  1. Kenny Lofton, CF
  2. Omar Vizquel, SS
  3. Jim Thome, 3B
  4. Albert Belle, LF
  5. Eddie Murray, DH
  6. Paul Sorrento, 1B
  7. Sandy Alomar, C
  8. Wayne Kirby, RF
  9. Alvaro Espinoza, 2B
  10. Jack Morris, SP

 

Play by Play

Starting for the Indians on this 76 degree drizzly evening was none other than Jack Morris, nearing the end of his career (he would pitch in just three more games after this one, his last coming on August 7). The Sox had already seen Morris three times that season, knocking him around for 17 runs over 18 innings (that’s good for an ERA of 8.50, for those counting at home), and he hadn’t been particularly effective against anybody else, either, entering the contest with a 4.97 ERA. He managed the first well, though; after Joey Cora reached first on an error, Morris retired Raines, Thomas, and Franco in order to get out of the inning.

Jason Bere was the starter for the White Sox, and entered the game with a record of 10-2 and a 3.54 ERA. He had just faced the Indians in his last start, going 5 2/3 IP with 2 earned runs, while striking out 7. Alas, he would fare much worse this time around as the Indians wasted little time in starting the scoring.

Bere gave up the dreaded lead-off walk to Kenny Lofton on a 3-2 count. With Omar Vizquel up, Lofton stole second and then on the very next pitch stole third; catcher Mike LaValliere’s throw went into left field, though, so the speedy center fielder for the Indians was able to race home for the game’s first run. After Vizquel flew out to center, Jim Thome was up next. Hard as it is to believe now, looking back on a Hall of Fame career, this was Thome’s first full year in the big leagues, having shuttled back and forth between the minors from 1991-1993. Bere left a 3-2 fastball out over the plate and belt high, and Thome didn’t miss, connecting for the 25th home run of his career. Albert Belle followed suit, jacking a 2-2 pitch to left-center for back-to-back dingers and after an Eddie Murray groundout, first baseman Paul Sorrento knocked one out to right for the third home run of the inning and a 4-0 Indians lead. After Bere gave up a single to Sandy Alomar, Gene Lamont had seen enough, bringing in Scott Sanderson in relief. Alomar was caught stealing to end the inning.

The Sox would answer right back the very next inning, though. Robin Ventura and Darrin Jackson led off with back-to-back singles, and Lance Johnson advanced Ventura to third on a fielder’s choice to put runners at first and third for Mike LaValliere. LaValliere got the Sox on the board with a single to center, and Ozzie Guillen loaded the bases with an infield single. That brought up Joey Cora who brought in another run on a sacrifice fly to center to inch the Sox closer at 4-2. Rock was up next, and he didn’t wait around, taking the first pitch he saw out to right and putting the Sox up 5-4. The Big Hurt doubled after that, but Julio Franco ended the inning with a 5-3 ground out.

In the bottom half of the second, the Indians kept their foot on the gas. Wayne Kirby walked to start out the inning, and advanced to second on a sac bunt by Alvaro Espinoza. That brought up Lofton who took a 1-0 offering out to right field for the fifth home run of the ballgame and put the Indians back on top, 6-5. After Vizquel lined out, Thome was up again. Different at-bat, same result: this time a 2-2 hanging curve that Thome smashed to right for his second home run of the game. 7-5 Indians. Albert Belle ground out 5-3 to end the inning.

Things were generally quiet in the third, but the Indians would score in the fourth with Lofton again wreaking havoc on the basepaths. Kenny singled with two outs, then stole both second and third (which gave him 4 SBs for the game) and Vizquel singled him home to make it 8-5. Thome was again up, but Vizquel was caught stealing to end the inning.

In the fifth, the Sox used small ball to manufacture their sixth run. Frank Thomas singled to start the inning and moved to second on a wild pitch. After outs by Franco and Ventura, DJ singled home Thomas to make it 8-6, though that’s all the Sox would get as Warren Newson struck out to end the top half of the fifth.

Thome led off the Indians’ half of the fifth, and yet again it was the big man from Peoria who put a hurt on the White Sox. Scott Sanderson started things off with a changeup that he left up and Thome didn’t miss it, connecting for his third home run in a row and putting the Indians up, 9-6. This was one of two 3-HR games in Thome’s career. The other was in a 14-2 rout of the Cardinals on July 6, 2001. Here’s video of all three Thome home runs from this game:

Belle singled to end Sanderson’s night, but Dennis Cook was able to strike out three of the next four batters to finish the inning.

The Sox weren’t about to quit, though. Mike Hargrove brought on reliever (and current transaction-addicted Seattle GM) Jerry Dipoto for the top of the sixth. With two outs and Ozzie Guillen at first, Tim Raines doubled to score the Sox shortstop. Frank Thomas followed up with a double of his own to score Raines, and the Sox were back in business, trailing 9-8. Franco ground out to end the inning, though, to keep the Indians in front by a run.

Alas, that was all the scoring for the game. The Cleveland bullpen would hold on to give up just three singles the rest of the way. The best opportunity the Sox had to tie it up came in the eighth, with Ozzie at third and just one out. Raines ground out 5-3, though, and Thomas was called out on a strike three that the Chicago Tribune recap stated “Thomas, now 0-for-11 against Eric Plunk, never took a swing and had to be restrained while arguing the called strikeout.” And so, the Sox lost a wild one, 9-8.

Box score

***

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]f course we all know that this is a “what might have been” moment. The Sox were coming off their 1993 AL West-winning season where they lost to the Blue Jays in the ALCS. At the time of the strike, the Sox were up one game on Cleveland and Frank Thomas was having a monster season that would eventually net him the MVP. Do the Sox make the playoffs for back-to-back years for the first time in franchise history? It seems entirely possible as they were just three games back of the Yankees for best record in the American League. Instead, the strike happened and the Sox wouldn’t be on top of the division again until the surprising “The kids can play” 2000 campaign.

The Indians, meanwhile, morphed into a perennial juggernaut which saw them win six of the next seven AL Central titles and make two World Series appearances. Thome, Manny Ramirez, Vizquel, Lofton, Bartolo Colon, Belle, (eventually) both the Alomars…these were loaded teams that, but for the Yankees, likely would have had even more success. It’s astounding, and a shame, that Cleveland to this day somehow remains a Browns town.

Random Box Score White Sox record: 4-3

Sources Consulted

Baseball Reference
Billboard Hot 100
Chicago Tribune
IMDB
Playback.fm
Society for American Baseball Research
Weather Underground

Author

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11 Comments
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Josh Nelson

“I swear” won me $50 dollars in a bar trivia contest a few years back. It’s a song that was #1 for both Country and Pop. Hardly anyone remembers who the country artist was that made the song #1 first.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Where I come from it’s the other way around, mister.

Josh Nelson

Huh. I didn’t know that. I bet it sounds…interesting.

Josh Nelson

Holy hell that does not work.

Patrick Nolan

The damn strike season. Really hope that the Sox don’t encounter this problem again in a few years.

Early formings of the Cleveland death lineup that would be around for much of the remainder of the decade.

asinwreck

I was about 15 days away from moving out of Chicago for work and my stress energy was divided between packing logistics and worrying about Cleveland’s unstoppable offense chasing down the Sox in the new AL Central. Those silly innocent days before the season ended prematurely right after I left town.

Gutteridge70

That ill -advised strike costed the owners ,the players and most of all White Sox and Expos who would have both been in the world series that year.