1914 was a particularly good year for baseball in McHenry. Richard Walsh organized the McHenry White Sox by retaining some of the good players they had in 1913 and filling some holes in the roster with improved talent. He knew the secretary from the Chicago White Sox, who was able to sell last year’s uniforms to Walsh at a discounted price. In other words, the team from McHenry used actual major league uniforms. They even had a field that was designated to just be used for playing baseball, that was to be maintained and even improved upon as the season progressed. In July, Richard Walsh received a letter from Charles A. Comiskey, the founder and president of the Chicago White Sox, offering to have his team come to town and play their McHenry counterparts. What Comiskey was asking for was $500 cash on the day of the game. Those people who put some money down would be paid back with ticket sales. Tickets were sold at McCallister’s and Petesch’s drug stores.
This was a huge opportunity for the community. About 15 years prior to this the Chicago Cubs came to Woodstock to play and drew hundreds of people. Now baseball was even more popular and with a strategic effort 1000 people could possibly attend the game, bringing lots of money and press to the village. The $500 was acquired in less than 6 weeks and the date of Sept 9th was set. The town decided to make a huge event of the game and called it White Sox Day. McHenry actually had several respectable hotels for the White Sox to stay at. What Walsh did regarding the accommodations was interesting. He had the hotel owners contact the Chicago team directly to get their business. Thus he would avoid any hard feelings toward himself or the McHenry ball club from any “losers.” The Chicago Sox were to come to McHenry the day before the game by train. They would then take a tour of the Fox River to Pistakee Bay aboard the Glendene and come back the Riverside Hotel, where a large banquet would be provided for all of the revelers.
As for the game itself, the McHenry team played admirably enough, despite the fact that they lost 12-2. One has to take into consideration that they were facing two pitchers from the Chicago club, Ed Walsh and Red Faber, who would eventually be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Also playing that day was Buck Weaver, who would go on to become one of the infamous Black Sox in 1919. One of the players for McHenry, George Opfergelt impressed the Chicago scouts enough to get an invitation to their minor league affiliate in Green Bay the following season. He had what was viewed as the play of the game, when he made a spectacular catch in center field. Also, the McHenry starting pitcher, Sohlburg, performed very well only giving up two runs in four innings and striking out three batters. It wasn’t until Sohlburg’s replacement Red Delehanty came in that the proverbial wheels came off the bus, as he gave up 8 runs in two innings of work.
The game attracted about 1,400 people in what was one of the largest spectacles that McHenry County would have for some time. People came from around the area to see a professional baseball team play a local team that played against their own hometown team. Many businesses closed in McHenry giving their employees a chance to go see the game. Even one of the area’s largest employers, the Terra Cotta factory closed for the event. It was noted that everyone was well behaved and enjoyed the game.
- “Baseball Prospects Bright” McHenry Plaindealer (McHenry, IL) News. 26 Mar 1914, 1. newspapers.com. Web. 2 Apr 2020.
- “Chicago White Sox” McHenry Plaindealer (McHenry, IL) News. 23 Jul 1914, 1. newspapers.com. Web. 2 Apr 2020.
- “White Sox Are Coming” McHenry Plaindealer (McHenry, IL) News. 20 Aug 1914, 1. newspapers.com. Web. 2 Apr 2020.
- “Wednesday, September 9” McHenry Plaindealer (McHenry, IL) News. 27 Aug 1914, 1. newspapers.com. Web. 2 Apr 2020.
- “White Sox Coming Wednesday” McHenry Plaindealer (McHenry, IL) News. 3 Sep 1914, 1. newspapers.com. Web. 2 Apr 2020.
- “Sox Day A Big Success” McHenry Plaindealer (McHenry, IL) News. 10 Sep 1914, 8. newspapers.com. Web. 2 Apr 2020.
- “Terra Cotta Factory Closed” McHenry Plaindealer (McHenry, IL) News. 17 Sep 1914, 1. newspapers.com. Web. 2 Apr 2020.