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The Milwaukee White Sox

The Milwaukee White Sox

By Gene Mueller. CREATED Jul 29, 2014

 

They were dark years in these parts, at least if you were a baseball fan.

1966. 1967. 1968. 1969. Four Milwaukee summers without a Major League team to root for after the Braves had bolted for Atlanta at the end of the '65 campaign.

Take that back. We DID have an MLB club playing here, albeit infrequently: the Chicago White Sox made the trek north to take on American League foes at forsaken Milwaukee County Stadium in '68 and '69.  This summer marks the 45th anniversary of their final stint as "The Milwaukee White Sox", an unvarnished audition of the city's MLB loyalty, an effort to prove we were worthy of another chance and an effort to woo White Sox management to make us their new permanent home.

A 1967 exhibition between the Sox and Twins drew 51,000, well over capacity.  If memory serves, stadium personnel roped off the warning track, giving the overflow a place to stand.  

The game was put on by Bud Selig's local group, one that was making a pitch for baseball's local return.  They would get aced out of a club when MLB added four teams (Kansas City, Seattle, Montreal and San Diego) but then aimed their efforts at Chicago where the Sox were having a hard time drawing paying customers, even after a '67 campaign that say them contend to the bitter end.

Selig and the Sox agreed to have Chicago play each competing team once in Milwaukee during the course of both the '68 and '69 seasons.

 

 

 Hardball Times points out that while County Stadium was hardly full for any of those clashes, the Sox drew three times as many fans per game on average here than they did at Comiskey Park.  Selig swooped in for a deal only to have other MLB owners kill it because they didn't want the AL to surrender its piece of the Chicago market.  

Selig's defeat was short-lived as he'd pounce on the bankrupt Seattle Pilots, bringing them to the city just days before the start of the 1970 season.  The White Sox would return to Milwaukee, this time as the dreaded, nearby foes of the newly christened Milwaukee Brewers.  The ensuing clashes would become the stuff of local baseball legend--in the seats, that is, where warring fans would have at it, fueled by their horsehide loyalties and far cheaper beer.   The lowly Brewers would draw nearly twice as many fans as the Sox that first season.

45 years ago, the best we could do was to borrow someone else's Sox.  Chicago's southside club would be courted by others, most notably Tampa which built a domed stadium in hopes of landing the team in the 80's.  The Sox would eventually get the new home they'd been begging for in the late 1980's.  The Cell, as they call it, was good enough to allow the club to stay but bad enough to require lots of retro-fitting.  The team, alas, hasn't been much since winning it all in 2005.

 

 

Gene Mueller

Gene Mueller

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Gene is a Milwaukee radio legend having spent over 30 years on-air waking up Wisconsin. Start your day with Gene for breaking news, weather, sports, traffic and a laugh!