5 most memorable White Sox home openers over last 100 seasons
By Joe Santoro
Billy Pierce thrills Chicago White Sox fans in 1953 home opener.
Another Indians pitcher nearly became the second pitcher to ever throw a no-hitter on Opening Day and, again, the victim was the White Sox. Bob Lemon, who would manage the White Sox in 1977, fired a no-hitter in Cleveland to open the 1953 season, beating the Sox 6-0.
A crowd of 56,698 witnessed Lemon's masterpiece. The Sox immediately headed out of Cleveland after the game and hosted the St. Louis Browns in their home opener two days later.
A crowd of just 11,354 showed up at Comiskey to see the home opener, likely because of what Lemon did to their heroes two days before. They were rewarded with arguably the most incredible pitching performance by a White Sox pitcher in the history of Sox home openers.
Billy Pierce was just two weeks past his 26th birthday when he took on the Browns on April 16, 1953. Pierce, in his fifth season in Chicago, was just 52-57 in his career at the start of the 1953 season.
The 5-foot-10 lefty tossed a one-hitter in 1950 at Comiskey Park against a New York Yankees team that had Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, and Phil Rizzuto. A fifth-inning single by Billy Johnson was the only Yankee hit.
Pierce would come a bit closer to a no-hitter in the White Sox's home opener in 1953.
The White Sox and Browns were in a scoreless tie after six innings and Pierce had yet to allow a hit. He had walked five (two in the first inning and three in the sixth) but was able to keep the game tied.
Browns' second baseman Bobby Young came to the plate with two outs in the seventh and promptly spoiled Pierce's no-hit bid with a double to right. Pierce then struck out Harry Brecheen to keep the game scoreless.
The Sox pushed across the only run they would need in this game in the bottom of the seventh. Jim Rivera walked to start the inning and was bunted to second by Sam Mele.
Chico Carrasquel then reached on an error by St. Louis third baseman Jim Dyck, sending Rivera to third. Rivera scored on a sacrifice fly by Sherm Lollar.
The only hitter to reach base off Pierce in the final two innings was Dyck, who was hit by a pitch in the eighth. Les Moss, a future White Sox player (1955-58), assistant coach 1967-70), and interim manager (1970), grounded out to third baseman Vern Stephens to end the game.
Pierce would throw four one-hitters in his career, including in 1958 when he was one out away from a perfect game against the Washington Senators at Comiskey Park.
Ed FitzGerald singled as a pinch-hitter with two outs in the ninth. Pierce recovered to fan Albie Pearson to preserve the 3-0 Sox win in front of a crowd of just 11,300.