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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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May 31,1973

Posted 10-22-2017 at 06:41 PM by TommyJohn
Updated 06-25-2018 at 10:37 PM by TommyJohn

May 31,1973
vs. Detroit Tigers
at White Sox Park

Jorge Orta was added to the list of Sox players with aches and pains as he nursed a sore leg. Carlos May still had his achy thigh and Henderson was on the shelf. An event that happened this night typified the luck that was starting to bedevil the team.

It started out innocently enough. The Sox teed off on Tiger starter Jim Perry, whacking him for seven runs in the first three innings of the contest. Rookie outfielder Bill Sharp, Henderson's replacement on the roster, kicks it off with a run scoring double, then hustled his way to 3rd. Sharp displays more hustle on a grounder by Bill Melton when he takes off for home and slides in under Bill Freehan's tag.

In the 2nd inning the Murderers' Row team of Allen and Melton deliver a 1-2 punch, Allen on a run-scoring double, Melton with a single that scored two. Allen continued the fun in the 6th with a three run blast to left field that staked the Sox to a 10-2 lead. The two sluggers drove in 7 of the 10 between them.

After the 6th Tanner decided to rest Melton for the evening. In his place he inserted 22 year old Brian Downing, a minor league call up who was making his major league debut. Downing, like all rookies experiencing that special moment when the call comes, doubtless raced out to his position with his heart going twice as fast as normal. All the toil and learning in the minor leagues was at last paying off. He was in The Show.

On the very first pitch of the inning, Tiger veteran Dick McAuliffe hit a pop foul on the 3rd base side. Downing reached for it and made a sliding, spectacular catch-and kept on sliding into the dugout, down the steps and leg first into the dugout wall. The crash tore up his knee. Brian's long journey from the minors to the majors ended with an injury incurred on the first pitch of the first inning and the first play of his first major league game. He came to rest on the 60 day Disabled List.

It wasn't all for the worst, though. With Downing hurt, Tanner finally found some use for Hank Allen, who took the injured rookie's place at 3rd.

The Sox prevailed in this one, 10-2. Veteran Eddie (Not Carrie's Father) Fisher got the win and Tanner sang the praises of Allen and Melton as the best 1-2 punch in baseball.

The Sox are now 27-15, still up by 3 in the AL West. Since June 20,1971, when they bombed the Twins 18-8 to raise their record to 23-38, Chuck's Charges are 170-127, a winning percentage of .572. Despite the nagging injuries and contract issues, the Hemond-Tanner rebuild is a success. The Sox have risen from being the dregs of baseball in 1970 to 1st place, looking a sure bet to take the AL West. If the season had ended that night, the 1973 White Sox might be remembered as one of the best teams ever. Alas.....

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