Mind Like a Steel Trap

A few weeks back, I was in Minneapolis for the wedding of my wife’s cousin, and at some point during the festivities, the wedding of the bride’s father came up in conversation. It took place on June 25, 1977, which also happens to be my wife’s birthday (the birthday girl was the flower girl for the wedding). My father-in-law told me a story about taking his two sons to see the White Sox play the Twins at Metropolitan Stadium the day before the wedding.

He said he remembered the Sox leadoff hitter Ralph Garr getting a single but being thrown out at second base by Twins left fielder (and future multimillion dollar Brewer bust) Larry Hisle, who had apparently been forewarned that the speedy Garr liked to stretch singles into doubles. He also remembered Oscar Gamble crushing a long home run for the White Sox, as did both of my brothers-in-law when the game came up for conversation elsewhere during the weekend.

Of course, I couldn’t resist going back to find the box score for that game, and lo and behold, those details were just as they’d remembered. Garr was indeed thrown out by Hisle — that actually happened on the game’s first at-bat. Gamble homered off Twins starter Paul Thormodsgard in the sixth, the second homer of a back-to-back tandem following Lamar Johnson. In fact, the ball must have been jumping off the bat that day, because there were actually six homers hit, three by the White Sox (Jim Essian being the other), and three by the Twins (Hisle, Lyman Bostock and Craig Kusick).

As it turns out there would have been a seventh home run. According to Baseball Toaster’s Bob Timmermann, who randomly exhumed the box score and wrote about the game a few years back, Garr came up in the third inning with two men on:

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.

As it turns out, the Sox needed Garr’s extra run, as they wound up falling to the Twins, 7-6.

Anyway, given how often memory proves faulty when it comes to recalling old games, I was pretty impressed that the details which were relayed to me did match the picture this time. Fun stuff.

One Comment

  1. Thanks for the incredible detail of the 6/25/77 Sox vs. Twins game. That was one of my favorites of all time. I was (8) going on (9), and that game seemed to have everything a little boy would want. We were in the left field bleachers and I remember watching Hisle scoop up that single by Garr and just gun him down like, "not in my house!" Also, seeing the great/underrated Lyman Bostock was made even more special after learning of his murder in 1978. >
    > Bro-in-law #1
    > Veeck area White Sox fan
    > 1976-1980

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