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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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September 24, 1969

Posted 04-29-2017 at 12:05 PM by TommyJohn
Updated 06-05-2018 at 08:28 AM by TommyJohn

September 24, 1969

The White Sox of the late 1960s was a team in turmoil. Fans slogged through the awfulness of the 1968 and 1969 seasons. Meanwhile, Arthur Allyn took a look at his increasingly red ledger sheets and didn't like what he saw.

The team was no longer making money. They couldn't draw people to the park, even when they had been in an exciting pennant chase in 1967. People saw the neighborhood the park was in as scary and dangerous. Trades designed to boost the club for 1968 had the opposite effect. The media, becoming increasingly dominated by Cub fans like Dave Nightengale and Rick Talley, had only negative, hostile things to say about the team when they wrote about them at all. All the money Allyn had sunk into the team to make it an exciting, viable attraction for fans in 1969 had gone for naught. Attendance was even worse than the previous year.

Through this all, rumors burned hot that the Sox were going to move to Milwaukee. Allyn had signed an agreement to play 9 games in County Stadium in 1968. He said it was an "experiment" to see if Milwaukee was ready for an expansion team.

The city had been lusting for baseball since the Braves had departed for Atlanta in 1966. They proved it by providing a huge boost to the Sox attendance figures for 1968. Milwaukee attendance for 11 games decreased in 1969, but still provided a large chunk of the team's gate.

Arthur Allyn told Sox fans he would never move the team. Chicago Daily News columnist John Justin Smith astutely pointed out that, while Allyn vowed never to move the team, he didn't promise not to sell to someone who would move them.

Smith himself designated one night as "Beat Milwaukee Night" and invited fans to come and hang out with him in left field, compliments of the Daily News. He envisioned a park full of people who wanted to save the team, but only about 7,000 or so fans showed up. Smith wrote in his column "If the White Sox do move, we will have only ourselves to blame."

Milwaukee Brewers, Inc., a group of investors banded together to bring baseball back to their city, was the syndicate doggedly pursuing the Sox all through 1969 in an effort to buy them.

The leader of the group was Allen H. "Bud" Selig, used car salesman and former Braves minority shareholder. Selig had failed in his bid for an expansion team in 1967, but was still bound and determined to land a team. As a used car salesman, he perhaps saw baseball owners as kindred spirits, and ownership would give him a chance to put the salesmanship skills he had honed in his profession to good use.

Selig was confident that the "experiment" with the White Sox was a success. His group offered $13.7 million for the team, more than double what Allyn had paid for it back in 1961. The White Sox as a Chicago team seemed ready to fade into oblivion.

There were two wrenches in the works. First, the American League, despite their seeming indifference to the Sox (shoving them into the AL West away from their traditional rivals, for starters) did not want to abandon the second largest market in the country, leaving it to the National League. There was still money in them thar hills.

Second, Allyn's brother John was a 50% owner of the team, albeit one who kept a low profile. John Allyn, who had been a Cub fan growing up in Evanston, loved Chicago's two team town tradition and felt very strongly that the White Sox belonged there. He refused to approve the sale to Used Car Bud.

Finally, the brothers Allyn struck a deal. John would buy Art, Jr's share of the team. Art, Jr. would take over other holdings in Artnell, the vast corporation founded by their father Arthur, Sr., (who had been Bill Veeck's money man, financing each of his franchise purchases).

Arthur took his brother's money and went into semi-retirement, telling the media he intended to devote himself full time to his butterfly collection.

John, meanwhile, promised to keep the White Sox in Chicago and they would be there "for as long as I can envision." Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but the Sox were safe and sound on the South Side. For now.

BELOW: Tribune article announcing the sale.

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