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In honor of actor Andy Garcia and his (unintentionally) hilarious reaction to Sofia (Mary Corleone) Coppola's death scene in "The Godfather, Part III."
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August 22,1976

Posted 04-10-2018 at 11:14 PM by TommyJohn
Updated 08-18-2019 at 10:55 AM by TommyJohn

August 22,1976
vs. Baltimore Orioles
at Comiskey Park

"Too much of a good thing is simply wonderful"-Liberace

Well, maybe not, Lib. There are times when a good thing starts to run out of steam and overstays its welcome. Usually it happens by the third time around.

Movies are a perfectly good example of this. Look at some great movies that went one or more sequels too many. It is usually by the third installment that things go south. By "Back to the Future Part III" it was quite obvious that Doc and Marty needed to park the DeLorean for good. "Poltergeist III" was practically laughed out of theatres. Duh Sly Guy should have retired Rocky after his fictional pug clubbed Clubber Lang down a peg. Alas, he came back to churn out two more crappy movies (and one good one). Comic book nerds and aspiring Cracked.com writers fly into frothing, hyperbolic rages at the mere mention of "Superman III" or "Batman Forever." And ask any committed, passionate Godfather fan to rate the merits of "The Godfather Part III" and you'll be met with a stern, angry, 100% dead serious denial that such a film even exists.

So too it was with the "Bracis Saga" produced by the 1976 White Sox. (Bracis, by the way, is the Latin word for shorts. Need to class this up). The first two installments of the saga drew the attention of sports news makers and reporters all across the country. They were an artistic and financial success. The third time, not so much.

The shorts-clad Sox trotted out for the first game of a Sunday doubleheader in front of 16,991, less than half of the crowd for Saturday's game. Rookie Ken Kravec took the mound to face the formidable Oriole lineup and ace pitcher Jim Palmer.

He actually didn't do that badly. Kravec and Palmer matched zeros for five innings before the Orioles broke through with two runs in the 6th.

The Sox struck back with two in the 8th on a two run single by Jorge Orta. One scary moment in the frame came when a Palmer fastball nailed Bucky Dent's elbow. The shortstop went down and writhed in pain. He had to leave the game, but x-rays would later show just a bad bruise.

The Orioles broke it open in the top of the 9th, when Reggie Jackson pinch-hit against Francisco Barrios with the bases loaded and clubbed a grand slam, his second one in the last 8 days against the Sox. Reggie dispensed with curses and hot dog moves this time around and simply settled for trotting around the bases. Palmer put the Sox down in order in the 9th to get the win.


1976 Chicago White Sox
Saga of the Shorts-Conclusion

The loss to Baltimore in the first game of the DH made the Sox 2-1 in shorts for the season. They trotted out in long pants for game two and gained a split by winning 7-3.

By now, it was apparent that the novelty was wearing off. The Sunday crowd, as mentioned, was less than half than the one for Saturday. The Tribune, which had highlighted the shorts the past two times they had been worn, didn't even mention them in Monday's game summary. Bill Veeck, possessed of a true gambler's instinct for knowing when to hold and when to fold, knew their time was up. The shorts were packed away, never to be worn or seen again.

And so the shorts were gone, but their legacy lives on in the psychic scars they have inflicted upon baseball fans for going on two generations now. Their legend has grown with the passage of time. Check out any page on social media devoted to baseball, especially on Facebook. Not a week goes by where the shorts don't get mentioned, usually in a thread about the worst uniforms of all time. On one Facebook baseball page one fan photoshopped a picture of Lou Gehrig into the Sox Shorts for...some...reason. Fans seem utterly obsessed with them.

It isn't hard to see why. Many baseball fans tend to be-let's be honest-a little wacky. Who else but obsessives could invent stats like BABIP, WAR and Exit Velocity? Or lose their minds when a ball scoots under a 1st baseman's glove or deflects off a fan's hand? I count myself amongst this number as well. After all, I am the one who is writing about these obscure games.

The Legend of the Shorts has grown so large that it has taken on the aura of myth. No, really. Many fans believe that the shorts were worn several times over the years and were a regular part of the uniform, according to a 2015 article by Dan Epstein. In the same article Epstein mentioned that Jack Morris remembered facing the Sox in a game in which they wore shorts. Since Jack didn't make his Tiger debut until June of 1977, this obviously didn't happen.

It doesn't end there. Bob Costas has been quoted as saying "Personally, I found the sight of Wilbur Wood in shorts to be very inspiring." (Inspiring why? He didn't say). A fan on a Facebook baseball page said he would "never forget" the sight of Wilbur Wood in shorts, because it left such a deep impression on his fragile psyche. There is but one problem with these reminiscences of the famous and obscure. Wilbur Wood, as Sox fans know, had his kneecap shattered on May 9 and was out for the season. He wasn't around for any of the shorts games. So what the heck games were they watching?

One sportswriter's take was that White Sox fans "still haven't recovered from the trauma" of seeing their team in shorts, a classic case of psychological projection if ever there was one. But he raises an interesting point. In my time on message boards, I have actually noticed the opposite to be true. Sox fans rarely ever talk about the shorts. Even on this page, which covers the Year of the Shorts, they don't get mentioned nearly as often as they do on other baseball pages, by a wide margin. In fact, the Sox fans I have seen on those pages tend to get annoyed when the subject comes up. Why is this? Does it have to do with trauma? Are we scarred for life?

I think the answer is no. I think Sox fans, for the most part, just view the shorts as a blip on the radar screen of Sox history. Does this mean they don't like to dwell on things that went wrong in the past? Ummmmmmm, no. I have seen a lot who have done that. But the shorts are an insignificant part of that, of no more importance than any other game played that season. They were an amusing sidelight, a funny Bill Veeck promotion and nothing more. The annoyance (on my part, anyway) comes from the shorts being blown way out of proportion, inflated way beyond their importance to the point they are subject to myths, exaggerations and outright lies (You SAW Wilbur Wood in shorts, Bob Costas? Really? And why has no one ever corrected him? Because they believe it, probably). False Memory Syndrome. It's a thing.

The shorts are gone but they will never be forgotten.
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