Outlined against the squinty sunshine and swirly winds of Chicago's great South Side, the Hitless Wonders were resurrected Sunday.
In baseball history, the Hitless Wonders were the 1906 Chicago White Sox. They won the pennant and beat the hated Cubs in the World Series with pitching, defense and a bare minimum of batting power.
Sammy Sosa, Robin Ventura and Ivan Calderon, the 1990 Hitless Wonders who showed up at Comiskey Park Sunday to celebrate the 80th and final birthday of the ball park.
If Comiskey II, currently under construction across 35th Street, lasts another 80 years, it will not house a stranger game than the one the Sox won 4-0 over the Yankees on their final game in Comiskey I.
Andy Hawkins pitched a no-hit game for the Yankees. He lost because the Sox scored four runs in the eighth inning when Sosa, Ventura and Calderon each hit a ball that a Yankee fielder botched up for an error.
"I'm stunned," said Hawkins after throwing the sixth no-hitter in the majors this season. "This is not the way I envisioned a no-hitter. I always dreamed of getting the last out and jumping up and down."
Hawkins retired the first two batters in the eighth on easy infield popups. Then the sun and wind and the Hitless Wonders began making baseball history.
Sosa reached, diving into first, when Mike Blowers backhanded and misplayed his bounder to third. Ozzie Guillen and Lance Johnson walked, filling the bases for Ventura's decisive drive.
Rookie Jim Leyritz raced from shallow to deep left field for Ventura's fly in the wind, gloved the ball . . . and dropped it as the crowd of 30,642 gasped. All three runners scored.
The next batter, Calderon, lofted a fly to right field. Jesse Barfield, troubled by the sun, gloved the ball and dropped it, as Ventura scored the final run.
"It was hit right at me," Leyritz said. "It got caught up in the wind, and I couldn't reach it."
"I lost it in the sun coming down," Barfield said. "The call was right. It was an error."
Shades of Paul Richards' Go Go Sox in 1951 and Al Lopez' pennant winners in 1959. Like those teams, the 1990 Sox rely on pitching, defense and speed. Only Jeff Torborg's 1990 crew seems to have the elements on its side, too.
"When a team wins a pennant, things like this seem to happen," said Greg Hibbard, who yielded just four singles in seven shutout innings. "Sun in fielders' eyes. Wind blowing the ball from them. . ."
"I didn't see him (Leyritz) drop the one I hit," Ventura said. "I thought it might be over his head. I hit it good, and he was playing close because of the wind."
Ron Kittle tried to explain the problems Leyritz and Barfield faced from the elements.
"This is the toughest outfield to play because of the weather." said Kittle. "Both the wind and sun.
Leyritz is just a kid, and Barfield is a dandy outfielder. The higher the ball goes, the more it swirls. I've run all over the place to reach a fly ball."
Torborg also felt that Sosa's speed was a factor making Blowers hurry on
the first of the three errors.