When the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox had their memorable “Disco Demolition Night” in 1978, it was not the first time a Tigers-White Sox game resulted in a forfeit in the Windy City.
It happened on May 2, 1901, and it was just the eighth game of the Tigers’ charter season i the major leagues and the final game of a four-game series with the Chicago White Sox at South Side Park in Chicago. Tigers pitcher Emil Frisk was matched up with White Sox pitcher/manager Clark Griffith, who had won more than 20 games in six of his previous seven seasons and would go 24-7 in 1901.
Griffith, a right-hander, was sharp and held the Tigers to just three hits through eight innings. He gave up a lead-off single to Pop Dillon in the top of the ninth but retired the next two batters. Tigers catcher Fritz Buelow grounded to third baseman Fred Hartman, who fielded the ball but overthrew first baseman Frank Isbell. Frisk followed with a run-scoring double, and Doc Casey walked to load the bases before Jimmy Barrett drilled a triple to make it 6-5.
Darkness was moving in at South Side Park, and it was raining. Griffith began to stall, hoping umpire Tommy Connolly would call the game. If that happened, the score would revert to the last complete inning, and Chicago would have a 5-2 victory. Connolly ordered Griffith to play ball, and Griffith, not wanting the inning to end, walked Kid Gleason. Griffith then attempted to walk Ducky Holmes, but Holmes reached out and drove the ball to center field, where Dummy Hoy let the ball drop. Holmes, wanting the inning to end, kept running and intentionally was caught between second and third base. When the White Sox refused to tag Holmes, Connolly called the game a forfeit and awarded the Tigers a 9-0 victory.
The crowd rushed the field in the rain, and Connolly had to seek cover in the batting cage. One fan threw a punch but missed. Charlie Comiskey, president of the White Sox, went into the crowd and convinced the irate fans to disperse. Two White Sox players, Pat Dillard and Dave Brain, were released the following day.
The following day, The Chicago Tribune put more blame on Hartman for his throwing error, which would have ended the game if he had executed the play: “If the crowd had gone onto the field with the intention of lynching Hartman, there would have been some method to its madness. Connolly was in no way responsible for the defeat, but it was altogether Hartman’s fault.”
It was the first forfeit in the history of the American League.