The Chicago White Sox, using Harold Baines' bases-loaded sacrifice fly with one out in the ninth inning, clinched their first title in 24 years with a 4-3 victory last night over the visiting Seattle Mariners.
"It just kind of symbolized the entire season, winning it that way," said Carlton Fisk in the wild scene in the clubhouse where champagne flowed freely and hugs were exchanged to toast the title. "We did it the hard way. We came back; that's our style on this club."
The decision, Chicago's 16th straight home victory, mathematically eliminated the second-place Kansas City Royals. It completed a runaway through the American League West that gave the White Sox their first flag since they won the AL pennant in 1959.
Chicago, winner of 11 of its last 12, survived a two-run, ninth-inning double by Ricky Nelson in the contest played before 45,646--second-largest Comiskey Park crowd of the season.
"That's the way we do things. We try to get as far as ahead as possible so I can't manage us into a loss," joked Manager Tony LaRussa. "We're champions. The city of Chicago has a champion. Chicago is a winner."
With one out, Julio Cruz walked and stole second off Bill Caudill (2-8). After Rudy Law and Carlton walked, Caudill was removed in favor of Ed Vande Berg. Baines then lifted a fly to center to make a winner of Dennis Lamp (7-7), who blew a 3-1 lead in the top of the inning. It was Baines' 19th game-winning hit of the season.
The crowd increased Chicago's attendance to over the 2 million mark for the first time in club history. The total attendance for the season is 2,024,893.
The White Sox had won five previous pennants but their drought for any title was the second-longest in the league. Only the Cleveland Indians, who won the pennant in 1954, have waited longer for a title.