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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."
Rating: 2 votes, 1.00 average.

September 21,1970

Posted 06-23-2017 at 12:06 AM by TommyJohn
Updated 06-25-2018 at 10:52 PM by TommyJohn

September 21, 1970
vs. Kansas City Royals
at White Sox Park

Bill Melton may have had his comical misadventures afield, but he was proving himself to be a major league hitter. Coming off his rookie year, when he hit 23 home runs, Melt picked up where he left off and was belting them out of the park once again in 1970.

By August, it was apparent that he was on a pace to break the team home run record, set by Gus Zernial in 1950 and tied by Eddie Robinson in 1951. The total was a not-quite-Ruthian or even Marisian 29.The White Sox remained the last of the 16 original teams not to have a 30 home run hitter. Many, such as Roy Sievers and Pete Ward, had challenged but fallen short.

When Sox fans realized Melton was so close to the record, the South Side became awash in home run fever. . Fans eagerly scanned the papers to see if Bill belted one out the previous night. Fans jammed White Sox Park and cheered every Melton at-bat.The Tribune began printing pics of Melton alongside Gus and Eddie and showing their totals from that point in their respective seasons. They sponsored a contest for fans to see if they could pick the game that Melt would belt the magical 30th. They titled the contest "When Will Bill Catch Gus? Guess!" So many entries poured in that the paper couldn't keep up and had to pull copy boys from other departments to handle the load.

Reporters from all across the country crowded around Bill's locker. Melton responded by getting surly, angry and abrupt with them. His hair began to fall out.

Fans taunted him about how he was not, and would never be, Gus Zernial. "Oh, YEAH??? Well, how much money do YOU make a year? So there!!" Melton would snarl. The pressure was getting to him.

Bill tied the record on the 18th vs. the Twins in Chuck Tanner's managerial debut. There were plenty of games left, giving him ample time to get the record.

This Monday doubleheader with the Royals in White Sox Park was unplanned-it was scheduled to make up two games that had been rained out in Kansas City the previous week. The White Sox tried to entice fans to come to the extra games by offering tickets for $1.50 for adults and $1.00 for kids, any seat in the house. First come, first served.

Unable to refuse this offer, and knowing that Bill was one away from the magic number, 672 fans crashed through the gates of White Sox Park and stampeded their way to the seats so as not to miss any of the action.

The moment they came for happened in the 7th inning. Bill stepped up to the plate with 1 out in a 4-4 contest. Bill swung at an Aurelio Monteagudo pitch and sent it to left field. The ball clacked loudly into the empty seats, echoing throughout the cavernous, near-empty ballpark. Bill, the weight of history off his shoulders, did his home run trot to a quiet smattering of applause.

They would win the first game 8-4, giving Chuck Tanner his first win as a major league manager, and lose the second 8-2.

The White Sox at last had a 30 home run hitter. Best of all, it came in 150 games, so Gus Zernial's ghostwriter pal couldn't put his Asterisk of Disapproval on Bill's accomplishment. Billy Crystal wept.

Confession-Um, Okay. Maybe I am exaggerating the reaction to the home run chase just a bit. Bill's pursuit of 30 didn't exactly generate the same excitement as Mickey and Roger's quest to best the Babe. Crowds didn't jam the park, no contests were held, and the record was pretty much greeted with yawns. But you probably knew that already.

"Every man's great moment on the White Sox comes when no one is watching"-Jean Shepard

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