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CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Without a home run hitter worthy of the name, the White Sox are all set to make their annual run at the Yankees—and the elusive pennant. If they succeed, it will be because they can pitch and run and field much better than anyone else. They still can't hit the baseball out of the park
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THE MANAGER

Quite likely the calmest manager in all baseball—and also one of the soundest—Al Lopez has managed to hang up a rather remarkable record. In seven big league seasons his teams have won one pennant, never finished lower than second. Last year, after leaving a Cleveland club which was built on pitching and power, he took over the White Sox, who were strong on pitching and speed, revised his tactics and led them to their highest finish in 37 years. His coaches are old friend and teammate at Brooklyn and Boston, Tony Cuccinello (33) at third base, Don Gutteridge (39) at first, John Cooney (34), and Ray Berres (37), who has the pleasure of working with the White Sox pitchers.

ANALYSIS OF THIS YEAR'S WHITE SOX

STRONG POINTS: Al Lopez' favorite theory—that pitching, speed and defense can win a pennant—may happen to be his favorite theory simply because it is the only one he has and he is stuck with it. But certainly if ever a club was equipped to put the idea to the test, the 1958 White Sox are it. Here is the finest first-line pitching staff in baseball (Billy Pierce, Dick Donovan and Early Wynn, backed up by Jim Wilson, Bob Keegan and Bill Fischer), good relief pitching (Ray Moore, Gerry Staley, Dixie Howell), tremendous team speed and a solid defense. Nellie Fox and the brilliant Luis Aparicio stop everything hit within miles of second base, and Fox is a real master craftsman with a bat. Billy Goodman, a lifetime .300 hitter, will end the confusion over who is to play third base, and there are five outfielders who can go and get the ball—Al Smith, Bubba Phillips, Jim Landis, Jim Rivera and Tito Francona. Sherm Lollar, a smart, experienced receiver who can hit the long ball, ranks second only to Yogi Berra among the catchers of the American League. The team is three deep at first base with Ron Jackson, Earl Torgeson and Walt Dropo. And this year Lopez has half a dozen players who can shuttle back and forth between two or three positions, thus giving him room to maneuver. As for speed, this team is perhaps one of the fastest in history. Aparicio, Landis, Phillips, Torgeson, Smith, Rivera, Fox and Francona can all fly.

WEAK SPOTS: There is only one: last year the White Sox had little power and now they have even less. The two big run producers, Larry Doby and Minnie Minoso, have been traded away and no amount of talk about the futility of sluggers attempting to operate in vast Comiskey Park is going to help the Sox when they badly need a home run. This is a team of leadoff hitters (Rivera hit more homers last year—14—than anyone else on the current roster), and there are going to be days when White Sox base runners risk sunstroke or klieg blindness while waiting around in vain for someone to drive them home.

ROOKIES AND NEW FACES: The newsworthy rookies this spring were Barry Latman, a big, strong young pitcher with a blazing fast ball, and John Callison, an 18-year-old outfielder blessed with the wonderful combination of great speed and real power. But Latman is hardly needed on this pitching staff and Callison almost certainly could benefit by a year of high minor league experience. There are plenty of new faces around, however, for the Sox traded heavily during the winter. Wynn leads the way but close behind are Moore, the dependable late-inning relief pitcher Chicago so evidently lacked last year, Al Smith, Goodman and Francona. And back up for a big chance at first base is the towering Jackson, a 6-foot 7-inch ex-bonus baby who hit .310 and 21 homers at Indianapolis last year.

THE BIG IFS: There is really no adequate replacement for Fox if something should happen to the little second baseman, nor for Lollar if this immeasurably valuable player should be injured again as he was last year. But both seem perfectly healthy and the real White Sox problem still swirls again and again around the question of who is to supply the power, even a little bit. The answer could be Smith and Jackson. A good strong hitter who was plagued by misfortune during a disastrous 1957 season, Smith must now recover from an inflamed tendon which has hampered him all spring, and then regain the batting eye which made him one of the league's most valuable players in the years 1954-56. And Jackson has yet to prove that he can hit big league pitching. If these two come through and Landis, a highly talented youngster who could be of great help to the club with his speed, arm and defensive skill, picks up his average at the plate, Lopez' theory might work out after all.

THE VOICES

Jack Brickhouse (41, animated) tried to win the wristwatch a Peoria radio station was offering to the winner of an announcing contest, so he entered. He lost the contest but managed to win a job as combination announcer-switchboard operator. That was in 1934. Six years later, he was promoted to Chicago as a baseball announcer, and with the exception of a Marine hitch, he has been at it since. Brickhouse has the rare distinction of doing both Cub and White Sox home telecasts and, because of this, he has handled more games (over 1,000) than any other announcer. He is frankly bipartisan, roots unblushingly for both of his beloved Chicago teams. In times of stress he thinks nothing of giving out with a lusty, "Come on, Sherm!" BOB ELSON (53, automatic) began broadcasting World Series in 1929, has a total of 13 of them under his larynx, as well as seven All-Star Games. There are some who consider Elson's limp, singsong voice downright monotonous but his career is longest in baseball.

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NELLIE FOX

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SHERM LOLLAR

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JIM RIVERA

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AL SMITH

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LUIS APARICIO

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BILLY GOODMAN

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RON JACKSON

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BUBBA PHILLIPS

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JACK BRICKHOUSE

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BILLY PIERCE

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DICK DONOVAN

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JIM WILSON

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EARLY WYNN

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ILLUSTRATION

THE OUTLOOK: One of the two White Sox deficiencies of 1957—relief pitching—has been repaired, and since they lost 27 games in the last two innings of play last year, this may be enough to do the job. Lopez has a magnificent pitching staff and all the speed and defense anyone could want, and it is quite likely that six other American League clubs (each with a problem or two of its own) will be unable to catch them. But Chicago must still prove that a team without power, a major weakness, can beat out the Yankees, who have no big weakness at all. It looks like a tough job.