The Chicago White Sox are the surprise of the American League’s first month, but the Chisox, winners of 13 of their first 17 games, will have to continue without Al Lopez as their manager. Lopez resigned because of ill health and returned to his home in Tampa, Fla. The Señor, suffered a flareup of a chronic stomach ailment, flatly declared that this was the final curtain for him as a manager of the White Sox or any other club. It was not a complete surprise since Lopez has been ailing for some time. Nevertheless, it was a severe blow to a rebuilding program that currently had the White Sox atop the American League.
Lopez came out of retirement last July 14 to try to steer the White Sox out of the losing rut. The club compiled a 42-37 under Lopez’s guiding hand last season. But the club’s new commander has a strong link with Lopez as Don Gutteridge, one of his long-time faithful lieutenants was named as Lopez’s replacement. Gutteridge is signed as manager for the rest of this season and 1970. He has no major league experience as manager, but he was a pilot in the minors for 5 1/2 years. Though the job may be rugged for Gutteridge, he has one big thing going for him. All of the coaches under Lopez – Tony Cuccinello, Ray Berres, and Kerby Farrell – will remain with him. And this is a loyal, close-knit group that probably is the most experienced and sharpest coaching staff in the major leagues.
Gutteridge’s new regime is actually an extension of the Lopez era. “I’m going to manage like Lopez as much as possible and still be Don Gutteridge,” said the new skipper. “He’s really going to be a hard act to follow. I only hope that I can be as successful as he was.” Lopez had retired after 1965 largely because of a chronic nervous stomach that frequently had him in pain. He was back with the White Sox for only a couple of weeks last summer before he was rushed to the hospital with acute appendicitis complicated by an infection. He was inactive for a month while coach Les Moss filled in as interim manager. “I lost 15 pounds after that operation and never did regain all the weight,” said Lopez. “The doctor in Tampa had me on medication to calm my stomach. I was practically living on tranquilizers. I never did feel well at any time during spring training, but I thought I might be able to stick it out for the year. But when I suffered that flareup in Kansas City, I knew I was through.” Chicago split the pair of games with the Royals, both contests were tight one-run affairs. Lopez recently became a grandfather for the third time as Al, Jr.’s wife gave birth to a baby girl, April 27. The first two were boys.