Today in White Sox History: March 4

Haters hate: Media coverage of MJ’s baseball career was almost universally unfavorable. In related developments, some sportswriters like to kick puppies and double-dip their chips. (Baseball America)

In the wake of the Black Sox scandal, owner Charles Comiskey attempted to rebuild his team. One of the first moves he made was to acquire future Hall-of-Famer Harry Hooper from the Red Sox for two players. Hooper would play five years on the South Side and hit better than .300 in three of them.

Sportswriter Brett Ballantini was born in the tiny hamlet of Highwood, Ill. Ballantini would write on baseball for decades, returning a sense of sartorial splendor, articulate absurdity and flash mob enthusiasm to White Sox coverage.

NBA superstar Michael Jordan, who retired from the Chicago Bulls in October 1993, made his White Sox spring training debut.


White Sox ride big seventh inning to 5-1 win

In the clutch: Andrew Vaughn’s single turned out to be the decisive hit in today’s victory. (Sean Williams/South Side Hit Pen)

The White Sox’s bats got off to a slow start, but they finished strong in a 5-1 victory over the Brewers.

The first run of the game scored in the top of the third inning in an unusual way. The White Sox managed to put their first two batters of the inning on base. Luis Robert singled, promptly stole second (what a surprise), and James McCann singled to put runners on the corners. Then, Leury García laid down a bunt that actually worked. García placed it nicely, as he was safe at first, and McCann advanced to third on a throwing error by Brewers catcher Jacob Nottingham. Unfortunately, that was the only run the White Sox scored that inning, despite having a golden opportunity to tack on another run.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Brewers tied it with a solo home run by Keston Hiura. Hiura, a rookie in 2019, slashed .303/.368/.570 with a 139 wRC+ last season. Even though FanGraphs was unimpressed by Hiura’s defense, his bat was enough to boost his value to 2.1 fWAR, even though he only played 84 games. This blast by Hiura was the only run White Sox starter Dylan Cease allowed in his four innings of work. Cease issued no walks, struck out five, and he looked in control against most hitters today. Cease appears ready for a big improvement over his rookie campaign, which did not go as planned.

With the game still tied at one in the seventh, the White Sox had runners on the corners with two outs after singles by García and Danny Mendick. Andrew Vaughn, up to bat in a big spot, came through with a sharp single to give the White Sox a lead that did not relinquish.

After a walk to Zack Collins to load the bases, Luis Gonzalez broke the game open with a two-run double to make it 4-1. In the eighth, Andrew Romine tacked on a run with an RBI triple, which drove in the final run of the game for either side.

As for the White Sox’s bullpen, it got the job done, too. Five relievers played in this game, and all of them (Codi Heuer, Jacob Lindgren, Caleb Frare, Kodi Medeiros, and Vince Arobio) pitched a scoreless inning. Thanks to them, there was no drama in the latter innings.

The White Sox improved to 6-5 this spring. They will face the Rockies at Camelback Ranch tomorrow at 2:05 CST, and Drew Anderson is the White Sox’s probable starter. March 5 is a pretty good day in White Sox history, as that is Paul Konerko’s birthday. It could be an even better day in the future, as that is also Nick Madrigal’s birthday. Hopefully, he will be able to celebrate with another victory.

Meet the Players: Amber Giese

It seems with every addition to South Side Hit Pen, some new ground is broken.

In the case of Amber Giese, it’s in adding a writer who’s mostly brand-new to White Sox fandom. But here’s the thing: When you find a great writer, you get ’em on board first, ask questions later. 

And yet it’s clear that Amber has the chops, not just as a writer, but a fledgling White Sox fan. Props to Scotty Pods, visceral distaste for the Cubs, a general sense of resignation over the fortunes of her teams … yep, she’s one of us.

Amber made her debut on site earlier today, a survey of all the wildest and wackiest team giveaways across baseball in 2020. Make sure to give it a read, and follow her on Twitter @ColdWars.

Most importantly, give Amber a warm welcome to South Side Hit Pen!

Name Amber Giese [it rhymes with easy]

Hometown I was born, raised, and continue to live and work in Milwaukee. I own a house on the northwest side of the city — just two miles from the home in which I grew up. I’m really spreading my wings.

White Sox fan since Dec. 20, 2019, when Gio González was returned to the White Sox. That’s the day I decided to commit myself to the team. Hello, White Sox bandwagon.

That’s right. A 34-year-old, hyper-emotional junkballer made me a White Sox fan. Yasmani Grandal did a bit of the pre-work, but Gio really brought us together.

I’ve always followed the AL Central closely, as it consists of small markets and underdogs, but now I’m committed to following one team religiously and enjoying their journey to the 2020 World Series, during which they will face off against my beloved Milwaukee Brewers. Proud bandwagoner. Happy to be here. Trying to learn as much as I can as quickly as I can.

First White Sox memory I went to opening day at Milwaukee County Stadium on April 26, 1995; I was seven, and thrilled my parents let me miss school. The matchup was White Sox at Brewers, and the Brewers won, 12-3. I remember my dad specifically saying, “This season is going to be different, Amber.” It wasn’t. It was like all the Brewers seasons of the 90s. Sad. With concrete falling everywhere from an old, dying stadium.

In 1995, the Brewers went 65-79. The White Sox went 68-76.

I know how to pick ’em.

Favorite White Sox memory I went to my first game on the South Side in August 2014 with my sister, as she had just moved to Chicago. The team gave away Tony La Russa bobbleheads, and I thought this was hilarious. Mine still sits on a shelf in my basement, collecting dust.

The people were friendly. The Chicago dogs were good. The White Sox lost to the Tigers by four runs — a real bummer.

Favorite White Sox player Current? Gio González. The emotion. The thighs. The five to six tedious innings of junkballing. It’s all wonderful. You’re going to love him. You’re going to hate him.

All-time? It’s a tossup between Paul Konerko and Scott Podsednik. I appreciate kings who propel their teams to World Series victories, especially when enabling the White Sox to do it before the Cubs.

I’m petty.

Go-to concession food at Sox Park I hate most variations of hot dogs, but I love Chicago-style hot dogs. And Sox Park has good ones.

Favorite baseball movie I have two. The first is A League of Their Own because it’s about women who actually played baseball — not just a fluffy romance that happened to have women baseball players.

The second is Little Big League solely because of the baseball highlights montage set to “Runaround Sue” by Dion DiMucci.

South Side Hit Pen on the field I played catcher in grade school through high school because I was a little clunky but had a good arm. I hit the ball far, but was slow on the base paths. I think “clunky but powerful” still describes me well overall.

True or false: Every jumbled pile of person has a thinking part that wonders what the part that isn’t thinking isn’t thinking of. Truem because I blindly trust They Might Be Giants. I don’t even have to rationalize this.

A fan’s guide to the quirkiest 2020 MLB team promotional items

Uncomfortable on an airplane? Thanks, Giants, and thanks, Buster Posey, for this unique 2020 “promotional item.”

MLB fans love free stuff. They also love free weird stuff, with team logos and sponsor names plastered all over.

Here is a list of the quirkiest items you can collect from each MLB team with the purchase of a regular-season ticket in 2020. Note that promotions and special events are subject to change.

National League East

Atlanta Braves
On June 23, the first 15,000 fans through the gates will receive a replica Ronald Acuña Jr. chain, for some reason.

Miami Marlins
On August 30, you could become the proud owner of a solar dancing Billy the Marlin figurine. Dancing Billy the Marlin is designed to distract you from the pain of the tortured existence of at least 10% of the Marlins’ fan base.

New York Mets
On May 30, the Mets will give away a Mrs. Met as DC Comics’ Wonder Woman bobblehead to the first 25,000 fans. As if a humanoid baseball wasn’t already terrifying enough — now she’s trying on costumes and entering the world of cosplay.

Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies are getting in the Earth Day spirit by offering all fans a reusable straw set on April 22. Philadelphia sports fans love the planet, everyone.

Washington Nationals
The reigning World Series champions mostly offer bobbleheads that are limited to the first 10,000 fans because they want someone to get punched in the face, but on July 26 they will give away a yet to be specified “Sesame Street Item” that might appeal to those baseball fans who also really love Big Bird. Like most of their other promo items, the Sesame Street exclusive will only be available to the first 10,000 people through the gates.

National League Central

Chicago Cubs
On May 9, the Cubs will knock off a 2018 Red Sox promotion by offering the first 10,000 fans a Craig Kimbrel Grow-a-Beard. This item is essentially a far less adorable Chia Pet. If you feel like you missed out on this opportunity in 2018, or you’re just a big plant person, this is a wonderful chance to fill that inexplicable hole in your heart.

Cincinnati Reds
Cincinnati consistently have some of the best quirky items in the game, and 2020 is no exception. On April 26, the team is giving away a commemorative Marty Brennaman microphone (with a sound chip honoring Marty’s Reds Hall of Fame induction) to the first 20,000 fans.

Milwaukee Brewers
America loves Bob Uecker, so the Brewers offer a new Uecker giveaway item just about every year. This year they’re giving away a Bob Uecker talking bobblehead on June 28. This will look great next to the Bob Uecker magic 8-ball, Bob Uecker alarm clock, and Bob Uecker talking bottle opener you may have already accumulated.

Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates offer their fans a wide variety of giveaway items every season — from wearables to pierogi bobbleheads. On August 7, the first 20,000 fans can be the envy of baseball fans everywhere by obtaining a Pirates fedora. *tips*

St. Louis Cardinals
Like their division counterparts, the Pirates, the Cardinals offer their fans a large selection of promos. On May 23, the first 30,000 fans who are 16+ will receive a Paul Goldschmidt bobblehead. But it’s not just a Paul Goldschmidt bobblehead, but a bobblehead that includes Goldschmidt’s golden retriever and a photo frame for fans to insert a photo of any dog they happen to love.

This promo is for Purina Pooches in the Ballpark, an event where fans can bring their dogs into Busch Stadium with a special ticket. Most teams now have at least one “bark at the park” event on their schedule, but not all offer a dog-related giveaway to non-special-ticket fans. Cool move, Cardinals.

National League West

Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks don’t love promos, and they especially don’t love unique promos. The most interesting giveaway on their schedule is April 11. The first 20,000 fans will receive a Ketel Marte switch-hitter bobblehead that depicts him batting lefty and batting righty. Two Ketel Martes in one figurine? Amazing.

Colorado Rockies
As of March 3, the Rockies website reads “2020 Rockies Promotional Item Schedule is coming soon!” The Rockies don’t want you to come to Coors Field in 2020. They’re not making moves, and they’re not giving you freebies. Perhaps all their scheduled promos for the season featured Nolan Arenado.

The good news is the Ketel Marte switch-hitter bobblehead is offered at a Rockies at Diamondbacks game, for any Rockies fan looking to jump ship.

Los Angeles Dodgers
On April 18, the Dodgers are offering a short-sleeve hooded t-shirt, which sounds like the dumbest clothing item imaginable — but also very appropriate for this team.

San Diego Padres
Do you like the Padres? Probably not. But do you like PUPPIES? Good news: The Padres are giving away a Padres & Puppies calendar on March 29 in an attempt to reduce your hatred of Manny Machado. Giveaway is limited to the first 15,000 fans in attendance.

San Francisco Giants
Ah, San Francisco, a hub of technological innovation. Such innovation has manifested itself into the Giants’ “Buster Hugs” neck pillow giveaway on May 30. The first 20,000 fans will receive the chance to think about Buster Posey every time they’re uncomfortable on an airplane. Someone somewhere is very proud of this idea.

Honorable mentions include the Lou Seal “Flipper” hat on May 9, the Johnny Cueto gnome on July 25, and a Star Wars Yoda hat on August 29. Unlike the Dodgers, the Giants did have the wonderful thought to include long sleeves in their hooded t-shirt giveaway on April 22. Innovation.

American League East

Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles have plenty of scheduled giveaways planned for 2020 to drive fans to Camden Yards in spite of the likelihood of abysmal on-field performance, but they tend to favor practical over peculiar: infinity scarves, fanny packs, and beach towels, oh my! On June 21 they are offering a canvas beverage holder to the first 10,000 males 18 and over. That’s correct: only men are qualified to receive what is assumed to be a hipster version of the koozie … but that’s because it’s Father’s Day!

Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox fans are offering a series of player-designed hats as giveaways this year — probably to try to make fans care about the humanity of the remaining product on the field after crushing losses in the offseason. Fans lining up at Fenway will receive a Xander Bogaerts-designed hat on June 30, a Chris Sale-designed hat on July 12, and an E-Rodriguez designed hat on August 16. Player-designed gear is becoming more common across sports — no longer just a characteristic of the NBA.

New York Yankees
As you might expect from a team that has guidelines for facial hair, the Yankees have standard promotional item fare: ordinary bobbleheads and collectible cups. This year, the club is emphasizing the 20th anniversary of the 2000 World Series team, including a beer stein on May 22 and a commemorative bat for those 14 and under on June 7. The team must be feeling down after not securing a World Series victory in the 2010s despite massively large payrolls.

Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays, obsessed with audio bobbleheads, will offer six of them in total to all fans throughout the season: Charlie Morton on May 9, Willy Adames on May 30, Tyler Glasnow on June 13, Ji-Man Choi on June 27, Blake Snell on July 28, and Austin Meadows on August 29. That’s essentially their entire promotional budget spent on talking toys.

Toronto Blue Jays
Nothing says Canadian baseball like a Chewbacca messenger bag, which the Blue Jays will offer their first 15,000 fans upon entrance on August 15. Not a Star Wars fan and looking for more traditional yet still fun giveaways? Check out the Canadian Day Vlad & Dad dual bobblehead on July 1, or relive the 90s with the Blue Jays floppy hat on August 1.

American League Central

Chicago White Sox
No team in the Majors offers more wearable promotional items than the Chicago White Sox. They give away free T-shirts at all Thursday home games, each with a unique design, as well as a plethora of other clothing options throughout the season: puffy vests, hoodies, jerseys, and Hawaiian-inspired shirts. On June 27, they’re giving away a White Sox basketball jersey that includes an outline of the Chicago skyline to the first 20,000 fans — a fun get, especially if you’re a fan of both baseball and basketball.

Cleveland Indians
Nothing screams Cleveland like a trip to the beach. On August 12, the Indians are giving away round beach towels to the first 10,000 fans. That’s right. You can sit on the shores of Lake Erie on a non-rectangular surface if you secure this bad boy.

Detroit Tigers
On June 12, the Detroit Tigers are giving away a chip and dip bowl to all fans. If you like chips and you like dips, this would be an excellent night at the ballpark for you. There are so many types of chips and so many types of dips. The possibilities are endless.

Kansas City Royals
The first 10,000 fans through the gates at Kauffman Stadium on May 16 are set to receive a welcome home mat. People in the Midwest love saying hello with a side of passive aggression, so this makes sense.

Minnesota Twins
All fans going to Target Field on June 27 are set to receive an LED energy-efficient light bulb. That’s right: a light bulb. The Twin Cities are a beacon of practicality.

American League West

Houston Astros
Instead of keeping their heads hung low in embarrassment and shame, like they very well should be doing, the Astros have decided to go all-in on their 2019 AL pennant the first week of the season. Fans can receive a replica ALCS trophy on March 27, an AL Champions ring on March 28, and a Jose Altuve ALCS MVP Bobblehead on March 29.

This isn’t quirky; it’s just definitive proof that the Astros organization deserves all the scrutiny baseball fans can muster.

Los Angeles Angels
If you go to Angel Stadium (of Anaheim) on May 13, you may be one of 30,000 lucky people receiving a cowbell.

Other notable giveaways are an Angels rally monkey on May 31, an Shohei Ohtani snow globe on June 12, Anthony Rendon playing cards on June 21, a rope hat on August 14, an Ohtani pillow on August 19, a hockey helmet beanie on September 4, and a growler on September 25. If you like unique baseball promotional giveaways, Anaheim is the place to be.

Oakland Athletics
The A’s drum-beating bleacher fans who cause many opposing fans anguish and despair will be celebrated on July 19 with a currently vague “bleacher tribute giveaway” listed on the team’s schedule. This celebration will happen against the Astros, which one can hope was intentional.

Seattle Mariners
The Mariners are giving away 15,000 patriotic cowboy hats on July 4, as one often thinks about cowboys when in Seattle.

Texas Rangers
Like the Rockies, the Rangers haven’t released a promotional schedule as of March 3, but maybe Seattle is willing to share some patriotic cowboy hats?


SSHP Podcast 18: Chuck Garfien

(Laura Wolff/Charlotte Knights)

Chuck Garfien joins Clinton Cole to talk White Sox spring training baseball and everyone’s favorite player, Yermín Mercedes. The pair also cover other bright spots of camp so far, including Nicky Delmonico, Andrew Vaughn and Adam Engel — and celebrate the fact that there’s an actual battle for the final active roster spot this season!


Hey, we’re on Apple Podcasts too!