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By self-admission, the 1977 Chicago White Sox couldn’t catch, run, or throw; and only on occasion could they pitch. Some felt unwanted and unloved by past teams. Two were told by skeptics that they didn’t even belong on the field. Yet it was these qualities that made them one of the most entertaining teams in franchise history. They didn’t bunt to move runners along, steal bases to distract the opposing defense, or turn the double play. They just hit and hit until demoralized opponents cried uncle. They didn’t win the World Series or even a division title. They couldn’t be called champions, but they lived up to another title. They were the South Side Hitmen. Team owner Bill Veeck transformed a hapless 1976 ball club into contenders and big-time draws at the ticket box. New acquisitions Oscar Gamble, Richie Zisk, and Eric Soderholm led the team to a franchise record 192 home runs, while legendary broadcaster Harry Caray led Comskey Park fans through the seventh-inning stretch. The White Sox won 90 games that season (including 22 in an amazing month of July) and finished first in the hearts of baseball fans across the city’s South Side.
About the Author
South Side Hitmen is Dan Helpingstine’s second White Sox book published by Arcadia. Chicago White Sox: 1959 and Beyond was released in 2004. Helpingstine is a freelance writer who is also working on a novel about a sportswriter covering a high school baseball season.