Sports History

World Series Champs during World War I

By: Peter T. Alter
Oct 13 2017

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the White Sox winning the 1917 World Series, CHM historian Peter T. Alter looks back at the team and its activities within the context of that year.

Saturday, October 6, 1917, dawned chilly and wet in Chicago. A thirteen-year-old White Sox fan, James T. Farrell, left his home in Washington Park at 5:00 a.m. to take the L and a trolley to stand in line at Comiskey Park for Game 1 World Series tickets.

Baseball fans wait in line outside Comiskey Park, 1917. CHM, Chicago Daily News, SDN-061254

Young Farrell, a South Side native, was not the only Sox rooter to brave the raw weather as he stood in a line several blocks long. Other fans couldn’t even get seats inside the park, so they perched on buildings overlooking the ballyard.

Military personnel and fans watch the World Series from the Seventh Regiment Armory and another building outside Comiskey Park, 1917. CHM, Chicago Daily News, SDN-010037

From the right-center field bleachers, the boy saw his South Side nine beat the visiting New York Giants 2–1 in the opening contest. Farrell, who would find fame in the 1930s for writing his Studs Lonigan trilogy, reminisced about watching this game in his book My Baseball Diary (1957).

White Sox pitcher Eddie Cicotte wears a patriotic uniform with an American flag and star-spangled team logo, Comiskey Park, 1917. CHM, Chicago Daily News, SDN-057908B

The 1917 White Sox had a stacked club with some all-time greats, including Shoeless Joe Jackson and Eddie Cicotte along with future Hall of Famers Ray Schalk and Eddie Collins. World War I deeply altered America’s pastime that year, as the United States had entered the Great War in April 1917. The White Sox and other ball clubs showed their support by conducting military exercises on the field, among many other activities.

A drill sergeant leads White Sox players wearing US army uniforms in an exercise, Comiskey Park, 1917. CHM, Chicago Daily News, SDN-061131

Three White Sox players recruit for the US army by the L stop at Madison and Wells Streets in Chicago’s Loop, 1917. CHM, Chicago Daily News, DN-0068270

The Sox eventually won the 1917 Fall Classic four games to two. They clinched the title at New York’s Polo Grounds on October 15 and returned to Chicago on October 17. During the long train trip, Sox players celebrated late into the night and early morning. When the train pulled into the LaSalle Street railroad station, cheering crowds and bands fêted the newly crowned champs.

White Sox pitcher Joe Benz’s “World’s Champions” tie clasp, 1917, now on display in Chicago: Crossroads of America. CHM, 1988.470.11a-b

The South Siders brought home their second championship and the only title they won as residents of Comiskey Park, the Baseball Palace of the World. It would take the White Sox eighty-eight years to win another World Series title—a significant wait, but still shorter than that of the North Side Cubs.

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