Looking back at Tony La Russa’s first White Sox division title 38 years ago Friday

WGN News Now

CHICAGO – Over the past few weeks, White Sox fans have been counting down the days until their team officially qualifies for the 2021 American League Playoffs.

The “Magic Number” currently sits at seven as the team heads to Texas for a three-game series with the Rangers this weekend. Once it hits zero, the team can celebrate an AL Central title for the first time since the 2008 season while also making the playoffs for the first time in back-to-back seasons.

Tony La Russa knows something about doing that with the White Sox, having done so as the manager back in 1983. The most memorable moment from that season came on September 17th – 38 yards ago on Friday – when the team officially clinched the AL West division crown.

On that Saturday night, in front of 45,646 fans at Comiskey Park, the White Sox got a walk-off 4-3 win over the Mariners to clinch their first postseason berth since their American League pennant in 1959. Harold Baines’ sacrifice fly to center field brought home Julio Cruz, who jumped in the air when he hit home plate.

Fans streamed onto the field from all parts of the park to join in the celebration when the team during one of the great moments in White Sox history.

La Russa and club would end up 99-63 that season thanks to an incredible second half of the season in which they went 59-26. Because of that, they would win the AL West by a remarkable 20 games, earning a date with the Baltimore Orioles in the AL Championship Series.

They’d fall to the eventual world champions in four games, but the memory of that clinching night lives on as the team pursues another championship under La Russa in 2021.

Larry Hawley reflected on that moment during “Throwback Thursday” on WGN News Now and you can watch it in the video above.

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