Writer’s Workshop: Horlen, Peters, and John

L-R: Tommy John, Gary Peters, Joe Horlen

The September after Dad died, we took our annnual trek to the South Side to see Mom’s Aunt Marie and our cousins (once removed), Jean, Jamie, and Chuck. No sooner did we walk in the door that Chuck, one of the biggest White Sox fans I ever met (the other being my uncle Jack, Mom’s brother), came up all excited. "Horlen’s pitching a no-hitter against the Tigers!" We followed him into the living room and watched the last several innings of a well-pitched game by the Sox’s right-handed ace. He only allowed two baserunners, who didn’t score.

I had been following the White Sox all season, not particularly closely. I was a Sox fan because Dad had been (thanks to Chuck and Jack). The Sox led the American League for most of the 1967 season, mostly because of the pitching of Joe Horlen, Gary Peters, and Tommy John. The Sox didn’t have the hitting they needed, but had an ace pitching staff and the ability to score just enough runs to win ballgames. Horlen’s no-hitter got me fired up, and I followed much more closely after that. I was disappointed when, needing just one win to clinch the AL pennant, they lost the last five games of the season, to the two worst teams in the league, the Kansas City A’s and the Washington Senators.

I was certain that the Sox would have a better 1968, because the front office got to work that offseason to bring in more hitting, and we still had Horlen, Peters, and John, not to mention Hoyt Wilhelm, who was close to breaking Cy Young’s appearance record of 906 games in his career. They brought back Luis Aparicio, whom they had traded in 1962, and brought in Tommy Davis from the Mets to add more hitting.

Needless to say, 1968 was a disaster. They finished in 8th place, with Horlen and Gary Peters having subpar seasons. Tommy John was the one bright spot in the rotation, going 10-5 before getting in a fight with Dick McAuliffe of the Tigers in August and dislocating his shoulder. They guys they brought in to hit, didn’t. It was so bad that Eddie Stanky had Peters bat 6th (pitchers normally bat 9th) because his batting average was better than half the rest of the lineup. They lost that game, with Peters giving up Bobby Cox’s first career home run. (Bobby would go on to manage the Braves and eventually end up in the Hall of fame as a manager.)

The Sox had two more bad seasons, but Horlen, Peters, and John were still the guys I looked to when they had to win. It’s when I learned that baseball players are human, get old, fight with their management, get traded away, and eventually are replaced by new guys. They had a hell of a run, though.

(The prompt: Write about a favorite childhood hero or star you looked up to.)

18 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: Horlen, Peters, and John

    1. Did you get where thre were actually two teams called the Washington Senators? The Twins had been the Senators until 1959, then the American League expanded, creating the new Senators, who moved to Texas in 1972 and became the Rangers. When the Montreal Expos moved to Washington, they wanted to call them the Senators, but the Rangers owned the name and didn’t want to give it up. So they became the Nationals, which was really the name of the original team, except everyone called them the Senators… Confused yet? 🤣


  1. I’ll bet you knew you’d catch my interest with this one. These were names from my “fanatical White Sox fan days.” I remember the period well. I’m still a big fan but I don’t live with the hope that they’ll win another pennant. I’m currently sitting next to a table with a Waterford crystal baseball that my sisters gave me after the Sox won the World Series in 2005.


    1. The early ’60’s was a great time to be a Sox fan, wasn’t it? The late ’60’s, not so much, but that’s when I caught the fever. They were just awful, and I loved them…


  2. A decade later I would be 10 years old and I would be rooting for…….Tommy John! It’s crazy he is not in the hall of fame.


    1. So many careers, baseball and otherwise, have been saved by ulnar collateral lugament surgery, and he was the first to get it. That alone deserves the Hall of Fame. People can say what they want: he didn’t have 300 wins, never pitched a no-hitter, etc. He had the guts to say “what have I got to lose?”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Didn’t he have like 288? I mean come on… that is close enough…plus what you said exactly. Without that operation…so many would not have a career.


        1. I looked at his numbers: 288 wins, 162 complete games, 46 shutouts, 2245 strikeouts… to me that screams Hall of Fame. The common complaint is that he spent 26 years and still didn’t reach 300 wins. It’s BS…

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yes it IS hall of fame numbers…I can’t figure out why they don’t let him in. It’s not like he was a bad character guy…he was ultra competitive but nice to the press from what I know.


            1. From what everyone said about him, he was a great guy. And what gets me is that there were a couple of years when the BBWWA elected no one to the Hall of Fame. I hope I’m alive to see him get in…

              Liked by 1 person

  3. WHAT? 1968 was a great year! I listened to the playoffs on my little transistor radio. Must have watched the World Series, but don’t remember that as much as the playoff games for some reason. Denny McClain and Mickey Lolich. Mickey was the big hero I think. And of course we (Tigers) won the World Series. Been sad lately, though. We traded off people like JD Martinez and Max Scherzer (who pitched a no-hitter for Texas or somewhere right after we traded him). They always trade my favorite players. Will see how we do this year!


    1. Sure, it was great in Detroit. It really sucked on the south side of Chicago. The Sox played nine games in Milwaukee and there were rumors that Art Allyn was going to sell out to Bud Selig, who would then move them to Milwaukee. The rumors persisted the following season, when the Sox played eleven games in Milwaukee which provided about a third of their home attendance. Had the Seattle Pilots not become available, the White Sox would be the Milwaukee Brewers.

      ’68 was the year Denny McLain went 31-6. It was also the last year before there were playoffs.Lolich had an excellent series, I remember…


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