Fox’s homer powers White Sox to Opening Day win
It had been 568 days since his last big league home run when Nellie Fox stepped to the plate in the 14th inning of the White Sox’s Opening Day game of 1959.
But like the White Sox would all season, Fox proved that this year was going to be special.
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Fox launched a Don Mossi pitch an estimated 340 feet into the right field lower deck at Detroit’s Briggs Stadium, scoring Sammy Esposito and providing the winning runs of the White Sox’s 9-7 victory on April 10, 1959. It was the 26th home run of Fox’s 13-year big league career.
“I hit so many that I have trouble keeping track of them,” Fox wryly told the Detroit Free Press following the game.
Fox had gone 671 at-bats since his last home run, which came on Sept. 19, 1957. He led the American League with 187 hits in 1958, but not one of them left the ballpark.
Fox’s home run was one of five hits he recorded on Opening Day 1959 en route to the American League Most Valuable Player Award that year. Fox hit .306 with 70 RBI, 34 doubles and 71 walks out of the No. 2 spot in Chicago’s lineup, leading the White Sox to 94 victories and their first AL pennant in 40 years.
“He’s a wonder,” White Sox manager Al López told the Detroit Free Press.
Fox played 19 big league seasons, 15 of which where he appeared in at least 130 games.
The 5-foot-10, 160-pound second baseman finished his career with a .288 batting average, 2,663 hits and three Gold Glove Awards – likely missing out on several more prior to 1957 because the award did not exist.
He led the AL in hits four times and at-bats five times, appearing in an average of 153.9 games per season from 1952-60 when the MLB season was 154-games long.
He passed away on Dec. 1, 1975, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1997.
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum