Thanks for the Memories, Big Klu

I tried nestling my transistor radio inconspicuously by my ear during Mr. Nee’s algebra class. It was the first game of the World Series, being played today at Comiskey Park, and I didn’t want to miss a single pitch. The only equation of interest to me that day was the final score between my team, the beloved Chicago White Sox, and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

I had just started my freshman year in high school a few weeks before. My school, Mather, was one of three new glass-paneled high schools opening in Chicago that September of 1959, the others being Prosser and Harlan. Mather, located in a more affluent area of the city than the other two, became perceived as a plum assignment for administrators and teachers. Our principal, Miss Margaret Lynch, just happened to be the sister of Mayor Daley’s former law partner. Patricia Daley, the mayor’s daughter, soon found a job as a teacher at Mather when she left her religious convent.

My first few weeks at Mather made be anxious and uneasy. A majority of my Rogers elementary school classmates went to Sullivan High School. I lived in the new Mather district where most of kids came from Boone, Clinton and Jamieson elementary schools. I felt socially awkward in my new high school setting among so many strangers.

When the algebra class ended, the Sox held a 2-0 lead going into the third inning. My final period was study hall in the cafeteria, where at least a dozen other kids were listening to transistors as well. When Ted Kluszewski, the muscular Sox first baseman, slugged a homer in the third inning, spontaneous cheering erupted in the cafeteria. More cheers followed as the Sox built a 9-0 lead that inning. As the period ended and it was time to leave for home, we listened as Big Klu went deep again, making the score 11-0.

I boarded Jerry’s jitney bus for the mile and a half ride north on California Avenue to our co-op apartment on Lunt Avenue. I watched the last two uneventful innings on TV, as Gerry Staley in relief of Early Wynn preserved the shutout with a final score of 11-0. I felt euphoric.

That night I tossed and turn as I recapitulated the highlights of the game. My mind raced into the future as I calculated pitching and hitting match-ups for the remaining games. I was hoping for a four game sweep over the Dodgers en route to the first White Sox World Series title in forty-two years.

The next day my euphoria dissipated as the Dodgers edged the Sox in Game Two at Comiskey. The Series moved to LA, where the Dodgers also won Games Three and Four. The Sox did manage to eke out a win in Game Five, and the teams would conclude the Series back in Chicago.

Ever the youthful optimist, I surely thought that the fans would cheer the Sox to two more wins at home for the title. However I was proven wrong. My hopes were dashed early on in Game Six when Duke Snider homered in the third inning off our ace pitcher Early Wynn and the Dodgers went on to win the game 9-3, capturing the World Series. I felt absolutely devastated and emotionally wounded about the loss. The funk seemed to last days, perhaps longer.

But life goes on and, in time, school got better for me at Mather later that freshman year. I gradually became more socially adjusted and actually made several friendships that have lasted me a lifetime. And I waited patiently as a saint for forty-six more years before the Sox finally won the World Series championship in 2005—proving, once again, that time really can heal all wounds.

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One thought on “Thanks for the Memories, Big Klu

  1. Thanks for the memories of the GO-GO Sox. Nobody was surprised that a Hall of fame player like Duke Snider would get the big hit, but my lasting memory was the amazing relief pitching by a little known Larry Sherry. Like you, it took me several days to make a mental recovery from the Series defeat.

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