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Random Game Callback, June 24, 1977
2006-06-24 03:59
by Bob Timmermann

The Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins combined to hit six home runs at Metropolitan Stadium, but it was a home run that didn't count hit by Ralph Garr that was decisive as the Twins beat the White Sox, 7-6 before a crowd of 21,457 in Bloomington.

The teams were in a virtual tie for first in the AL West with the White Sox holding .002 lead. White Sox manager Bob Lemon started veteran knuckleball specialist Wilbur Wood. Twins manager Gene Mauch had Paul Thormodsgard on the hill.

Thormodsgard got out of the first thanks in part to leadoff hitter and left fielder Garr, who singled, but was thrown out at second by Twins leftfielder Larry Hisle. In the bottom of the first, Minnesota centerfielder Lyman Bostock led off with a single. Third baseman Jerry Terrell sacrificed and was safe at first when Chicago second baseman Jorge Orta dropped the throw at first base. First baseman Rod Carew walked to load the bases. Hisle doubled in two runs. Wood was able to work out of further trouble and it was 2-0 Twins at the end of one inning.

In the third, Terrell reached when Wood hit him with a pitch. Carew singled and Hisle homered and the Twins had taken a 5-0 lead after three innings.

The game's big play came in the third. Third baseman Eric Soderholm led off with a single and catcher Jim Essian reached on an error by shortstop Roy Smalley. Garr then hit a deep fly to right that Ford made a leap for against the wire fence in Bloomington. Ford crashed to the ground and first base umpire Nestor Chylak ran out to make the call and seemed to take a while. While this was happening, Soderholm and Essian went back to their bases, thinking that Ford had caught the ball. But Ford hadn't, the ball had gone over the fence. However, as Essian went back to first, Garr passed him on the bases. So Garr was credited with a single, but was then called out for passing Essian. Soderholm and Essian did score to cut the lead to 5-2.

Essian took matters into his own hands with a solo home run in the fifth, but Minnesota designated hitter Craig Kusick hit one of his own and the Twins led 6-3 after five innings.

In the sixth, first baseman Lamar Johnson and rightfielder Oscar Gamble hit back-to-back home runs to make it 6-5 and chase Thormodsgard. Tom Burgmeier relieved.

Tom Johnson was pitching for the Twins in the eighth when he gave up a one-out double to Chet Lemon. Johnson struck out, but Gamble singled to score Lemon.

But the tie did not last long as Bostock led off the bottom of the eighth with a home run against Chicago reliever Lerrin LaGrow. Johnson retired the White Sox in order in the ninth to pick up the win.

After the game, Garr wouldn't talk to the media about his gaffe on his "home run." However, manager Lemon and Essian both excused Garr since they thought Chylak took too long to make the home run call.

The White Sox finished the year with a 90-72 record in third place, 12 games behind the Royals. The Twins finished in fourth at 84-77, 17 1/2 games out. The White Sox were still leading the AL West in August before fading. The Twins early success was already starting to peter out and they were buried by a 7-18 record in September.

Both the Twins and White Sox were able to put runs on the board. Minnesota led the league with 867 and Chicago was third with 844. Neither team had a particularly good ERA as the White Sox were tenth with a 4.32 ERA and the Twins were 12th at 4.36.

Carew won the AL MVP in 1977, batting .388 and was batting over .400 as late as July 10. Carew also led the league in OBP at .449 and slugged .570, hitting 38 doubles, 16 triples, and 14 home runs. But the Twins' penurious owner, Calvin Griffith, wouldn't be able to keep his team together. Bostock and Hisle left at the end of the year as free agents (to California and Milwaukee) and Carew would force a trade to the Angels after the 1978 season.

The 1977 White Sox were something of a one-year wonder also as they lost key players, such as DH Richie Zisk and Gamble to free agency and then made an ill-fated trade sending pitchers Dave Frost and Chris Knapp, along with catcher Brian Downing to the Angels in exchange for Bobby Bonds and Richard Dotson. Downing would go on to become one of the Angels most consistent hitters for over a decade, while Bonds played in just 26 games for the White Sox before being traded to Texas for Claudell Washington. Manager Lemon would be fired midway through the 1978 season, but he was quickly hired by the Yankees and he would lead them to a World Series win that season.

Sources: Chicago Tribune, Retrosheet,

2006-06-24 11:04:54
1.   Linkmeister
Using "penurious" to describe Calvin Griffith is like using "damp" to describe the Pacific Ocean.

There are an awful lot of familiar names in that story. I am old, Father William.

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