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by Harold Friend
Fans remember the 1914 Miracle Braves, who became World Champions after languishing in last place as late as July 4. The Boston Braves had finished a dismal fifth, with only 69 wins, the previous season.
Fans remember the Boston Red Sox, who finished ninth in 1966, but who won the pennant the next season to become the first major league team to go from ninth to first.
And, of course, who can ever forget the greatest of all miracle teams, the New York Mets, who finished ninth in 1968 and then topped the 1967 Red Sox by not only winning the pennant, but by upsetting the highly favored Baltimore Orioles in the World Series?
The Sixth Place 1918 Chicago White Sox
Yet, a team that had received little recognition in the area of great turnarounds is the Chicago White Sox. In 1918, a season shortened by a raging battle for freedom and the American way of life in Europe, the White Sox won only 57 games to finish in sixth place, 17 games behind Boston.
The 1919 "Miracle" White Sox
The following season, things were different. Led by outfielder Joe Jackson, who has Hall of Fame credentials, Hall of Fame second baseman Eddie Collins, and great right-handed pitcher Eddie Cicotte, who won 29 games, the White Sox won the 1919 pennant.
At the close of play on Aug. 14, 1919, the Chicago White Sox led the second place Detroit Tigers by four games. The Sox promptly reeled off a 10-game winning streak to apparently take control of the pennant race. The White Sox had been in second place on July 4, trailing the New York Yankees by one and one-half games.
The final nail in the coffin for other American League teams occurred on Sept. 17, when the White Sox swept the Yankees in a twin bill at the Polo Grounds, by scores of 2-0 and 11-2.
On Sept. 24, Chicago beat the St. Louis Browns to lead the Cleveland Indians by five games. It was the last regular season win for the White Sox, who lost their last four games, but the lead was large enough. Chicago won the pennant by three and one-half games.
A Difficult World Series to Predict
The World Series between the Cincinnati Reds and the White Sox was considered a toss up. An analysis in the respected New York Times, whose reputation for objectivity has remained unquestioned to this day, concluded that it was too close to predict the winner,
It was believed that the White Sox would be slight favorites, but only because the consensus was that the American League was a little stronger than the Senior Circuit. The experts gave the White Sox a slight edge in offense, considered the teams equal defensively, and ranked the Cincinnati pitching slightly superior.
It is regrettable that the White Sox lost the 1919 World Series, which was one of the most memorable ever. One result of that defeat has been that the 1919 White Sox are rarely remembered with teams that have radically reversed their fortunes from one season to the next.
Today, almost all fans of all major sports believe that a team that makes the playoffs has had a successful season. A baseball team that wins the pennant has had an outstanding season.
The 1919 Chicago White Sox won the pennant. Yes, they didn't become World Champions, but winning the pennant means that the White Sox had an outstanding season that will be remembered as long as baseball is played.
ANALYSIS OF STRENGTH OF WHITE SOX AND REDS LEAVES WORLD'S SERIES RESULT IN DOUBT :Managers of the Nines Which Will Battle for the World's Title. (1919, September 21). New York Times (1857-1922),101. Retrieved February 28, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 96338719).