The Chicago White Sox and the Raising of Their 1906 World Series Banner
Chicago White Sox of 1906
The American League’s Chicago White Sox, known as the Hitless Wonders, upset the National League’s Chicago Cubs, featuring Tinker to Evers to Chance, in the 1906 World Series. The White Sox celebrated their victory on Tuesday, May 14, 1907, with a banner-raising ceremony prior to a game with the Washington Senators.
Chicago Mayor Fred Busse began the day by naming a special commission to investigate Chicago’s air pollution problem. Under the headline WAR DECLARED ON SMOKE, the Chicago Tribune optimistically predicted that “Grimy Chicago, second only to Pittsburgh in its destruction of health and clean linen, will soon be a thing of the past.”
After lunch, Busse and Chief of Police George Shippy descended the steps of City Hall and climbed into a gaily-decorated automobile along with White Sox owner Charles Comiskey. The trio led a parade that snaked its way down to South Side Park on 39th Street between Wentworth and Princeton.
“Everybody from Mayor Busse down to the lowest scrubman in the building was out in the parade,” Tribune columnist Sy Sanborn reported. “Every automobile and nearly every horse drawn craft in Chicago seemed to have been impressed into service.”
The VIPs and politicians were followed by the Chicago White Sox players. Chicago’s semi-pro teams sent a strong contingent. Riverview Park’s motor coach carried the team owners, fourteen uniformed players, seven umpires, plus twenty fans and assorted friends. Jimmy Callahan packed his Logan Squares into a pair of automobiles. More cars conveyed the Spaldings, Artesians, Anson’s Colts, West Ends, Lawndales, Fortunes, Topazes, Roxburys, and Clover Leafs. Teams that were unable to hire automobiles tagged along as best they could in streetcars. The Stockyards Boys, a wild delegation of more than thirty cowboy-hatted horsemen, brought up the rear.
The Stockyards Boys, May 14, 1907. Chicago Tribune.
In South Side Park, a full house of over 15,000 fans awaited the procession beneath a blanket of black clouds. The first car shot through the gate at 2:40 PM and led the parade in a lap around the ballpark. Ten full minutes were required for the entire contingent to enter the grounds. The crowd cheered its collective head off as the occupants of the vehicles waved White Sox flags and pennants. Even the semi-pro players received a share of the adulation. After completing their circuit, the cars and coaches pulled out of line and parked all over the field, in the dirt and grass that had been softened by recent rains.
Comiskey, Mayor Busse, and Chief Shippy stood in the outfield and unfurled an enormous purple and gold silk banner that proclaimed the White Sox to be World Champions. The flag’s length was greater than the depth of the outfield bleachers. They held it aloft and marched up to the grandstand as Big Bill Thompson, a former County Commissioner and future Mayor, called for nine cheers: three for Comiskey, three for Busse, and three for the White Sox players. As the cheers echoed through South Side Park, the Stockyards Boys galloped through the gate and thundered around the field.
After the requisite speeches, Comiskey, Busse, and Shippy carried the banner back to center field, where they were joined by the White Sox players. The Stockyards Boys surrounded them in a half-ellipse of men and horseflesh as the players prepared to raise the banner to the top of the flagstaff. The banner was attached to the halyard, and the players heaved like a crew of flannel-clad pirates hoisting the fore topgallant staysail.
The Chicago White Sox raise their 1906 World Series banner in South Side Park, May 14, 1907. Chicago Tribune.
The stately pine flagpole, which had already endured seven seasons of Chicago’s winds and winters, was implanted several yards behind the bleachers. The players were positioned in front of the bleachers rather than at the base of the staff where they would not be visible. Their heaving, then, was more horizontal than vertical.
The banner’s tail had not cleared the ground when the pole snapped. It tottered, threatening the lives of the bleacherites below, then fell harmlessly to the side. It was a sure sign, if one was needed, that God is a Cubs fan.
While the banner was being hastily secured to a liquor advertisement in right field, White Sox pitcher Nick Altrock lightened the mood by commandeering a horse and leading the Stockyards Boys on a merry chase, finally being brought to bay in front of the grandstand.
Altrock dismounted the horse, climbed the mound, and prepared to pitch to the Washington Senators. The cars were herded out the gate, though several large autos remained parked along the outfield fence.
Altrock faced four batters, one reaching base when the ball caromed away from the fielder after hitting a tire rut left by a departing auto. As the teams exchanged places between innings, the clouds opened and a deluge ended the game.
The cars that had remained on the field were hopelessly mired in the muck. They were extracted by a team of dray horses, leaving behind a month’s work for Groundskeeper Reuter.
The Tribune’s Sy Sanborn summarized the celebration: “Chicago, always doing something notable, had broken another world’s record by pulling off a pennant raising without raising a pennant or playing a ball game.”