See, the sun was very bright. And it was shining, directly into the right field. "So," said Alan Bannister, mischievously, "I figure I'll just hit one up there and have 'em lose it in the sun." He laughed out loud.
Bannister, the little shortstop of the Chicago White Sox, didn't expect anyone to believe his story, but in reality it made about as much sense as anything else that happened today.
Trailing after seven innings. 7.6, the White Sox scored seven times in the eighth - on a rally made possible in part by the forgetful nature of Minnesota right fielder Dan Ford - and beat the Twins, 13-6.
The victory gave the WhiteSox two in a row over the Twins and moved the once forlorn Chicagoans, and lastplacers a year ago, a game ahead of Minnesota in the American Leagues West Division.
Bannister's pitifully weak fly ball (in a world full of banjo hitters, Bannister plays a Ukufele) fell to earth uncaught when Ford, the only outfielder not wearing sunglasses, lost the ball in the sun. Time then was called and Ford meekly went to the dugout for glasses.
Ford's error loaded the bases and Jorge Orta put th Sox ahead with a two-run single off loser Tom Johnson. Ritchie Zisk's sacrifice fly made it 9.7, Lamar Johnson made it 10-7 with a single and Jim Spencer, who had a fourth-inning grand slam, made it 13-7 with his second home run of the day.
For Spencer, encouraged as he came to the plate by a banner in left field saying, "C'mon Spence, Over the Fence," the homer gave him eight runs batted in for the game. He thus became the first Sox player ever to bat in eight runs in a game twice in a season, having done it three weeks ago.
"I just wanted to hit the ball hard," he said of his last trip. The ball sailed high toward the right center field and, through Spencer gave the wind credit for moving the ball out of the park, others thought it was wild noise from the anxious 35,271 fans that pushed it over.
If taking advantage of offered opportunity is the mark of a good team, the White Sox today were great. "Some games you're supposed to win," said the White Sox manager, Bob Lemon, an old baseball hand who knows a break when he sees it.
On a day when the Sox pitchers would keep Rod Carew hitless (0 for two with three walks, his average dropping to 408), the Chicagoans nevertheless trailed through three innings, 2-0.
Minnesota starter Bill Butler hadn't allowed a hit when Spencer, a strong first baseman, came up in the fourth Butler had, however, given the Sox a break, by walking three men in the inning, loading the bases. Spencer hit a line drive eight miles.
Inevitably, for the Sox were starting a rookie pitcher in a game with first place at stake, the Twins came back. Larry Hisle and Butch Wynegar had the big hits, each driving in two runs, as Minnesota built its 7-6 lead.
Then in the eighth, the Twins were the very soul of clarity, if not ineptitude. With the leadoff man out. Minnesota pitcher Dave Johnson failed to touch first base on a routine play.
Jim Essain smashed one toward shortstop Boy Smalley. Double play? No, it bounced off Smalley's glove. A play that might have ended the inning wasruled a hit. Then came the mighty Bannister's sun ball.
"Actually." Binnister said, smiling.
"I hit it so hard he couldn't handle it."
The teams wind up the series with a doubleheader Sunday.