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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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July 31,1977

Posted 05-13-2018 at 12:14 PM by TommyJohn
Updated 05-16-2018 at 07:48 AM by TommyJohn

July 31,1977
vs. Kansas City Royals
at Comiskey Park

The Sox and Royals concluded their big series with a Sunday doubleheader. 50,412 screaming, singing, joyous fans turned out for this one, the Sox' first gate of 50,000 plus since 1973. They witnessed one of the great classics in White Sox history in the first game, followed by a Royal blast in game 2. After the games, the Royals, two players specifically, let loose.

At around this time another growing Comiskey Park tradition had reached full bloom. The fans started singing "Na, Na, Hey, Hey, Goodbye," the chorus of a forgotten 1969 rock song called "Kiss Him Goodbye" by a group called Steam. The song was Steam's only Top 40 hit. Nancy Faust said in an August, 1977 interview with the Tribune that she had been playing the song for years whenever a home run was hit or an opposing pitcher was yanked, but that it really started to catch on during the good times of July. I recall watching a game where the fans were singing the song a capella during a game, presumably in 1977, though I can't be sure. Whatever the case, by the end of the month fans were rocking the ballpark with the song, revving up the Sox and rattling the opposition. In the Royals' case, it worked too well.

Game 1 was probably the Game of the Decade of the 1970s for the White Sox. The years in which Comiskey Park was a ghost town populated by the few thousand fans who hadn't abandoned the team to the fates, resulting in two near moves, were forgotten as the 50,412 roared with practically every pitch. The South Side Hitmen entered the 9th trailing 2-1 and tied it. they entered the 10th trailing 4-2 and rallied for three runs to win it, two on a game-tying blast by Chet Lemon and the game-winner on a single by Ralph Garr. Hysterical fans roared, sang "Na Na Na Na" and summoned Lemon and Garr out for curtain calls (See: Game of the Year, 1977).

Game 2 was a different story. Royals starter Dennis Leonard held the Hitmen in check while the Royals beat up on Chris Knapp.

George Brett got things started with a two-run homer in the top of the 3rd. Hal McRae followed that up with a two run double in the 5th. The play that drew everyone's attention happened in the 7th.

First, Oscar Gamble had homered in the 6th to make it 4-2. In the 7th Hal McRae took Knapp deep for a solo home run. McRae took a long, very slow, very deliberate trot around the bases, one that seemed to last forever, but was probably only a couple of minutes. When he reached home plate, he tipped his hat to the crowd, which booed in response.

The Royals would put three more on the board to make it 8-2. Brian Downing would give the fans one last thrill with a two out, two run homer in the 9th, but Leonard retired Alan Bannister to finish off the Sox.

The doubleheader was over, but the fun was just starting. After the games the Royals let it all out.

"I'm not impressed with their fans, or their team, either." Said Amos Otis, who also homered and tipped his hat in game 2. "They've got a few guys who can hit, but their defense is no good. I'm not impressed with their bullpen and they can't run the bases. We'll catch them" he promised.

The loudest complainer was Hal McRae. Hal, last heard from on the final day of the 1976 season loudly complaining that Twins manager Gene Mauch cost him the AL batting title because he was a racist, cut loose.

Talking about his cap tip to the crowd, McRae yelled "I just wanted the White Sox to see what it looks like from the other side. It's bush, what they do. It's a disgrace to baseball. And those fans are making clowns of the players with all that jazz."

Hal was just getting warmed up. He ranted and raved some more, yelling about how the Sox stand and admire their home runs, run the bases slow and tip the hat. He called them "fools" and said that in the National League (from where Hal had come) the nonsense would end in a day courtesy of a fastball implanted in someone's ear. He expressed angry surprise that his own pitchers didn't do it. he topped off his rant by calling Sox fans 'frontrunners" and said "I'd like to see the White Sox try that when they come to Kansas City next weekend."

The White Sox brushed off McRae's remarks. Jim Spencer for one, dared McRae to run the bases slowly after a home run when the two teams met in KC.

"If he does, we'll get him" Spencer said. "He's bush, he's always been like that. He's a dirty ballplayer and he's a bush ballplayer."

Richie Zisk paid them no mind.

"But we took three of four" he said. "I think what they did in the second game was bush, but it's the only thing they had to cheer about all weekend."

The 1977 White Sox and their fans were riding high, despite the game two loss. They stood at 62-38, 5 1/2 games in front of Kansas City and still in possession of the best record in the American League. The South Side Hitmen were blasting away and, with two months left in the season, seemed destined for bigger and better things. No one could possibly suspect that this was the beginning of the end.

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