Bo Knows: That in 1993 he’d be an unsung hero for the division-winning White Sox. (YouTube)
The Sox signed former two-sport All-Star Vincent “Bo” Jackson to a contract. Jackson would have hip replacement surgery and not make a real impact until 1993, when he hit 16 home runs, but the move was a masterful stroke from a public relations standpoint.
The unexpected division championship season didn’t start off promisingly, as the White Sox were buried in Texas, 10-4. They’d lose the next day as well, 12-8. But by the end of the month the Sox set the major league record for most runs scored in April and “The Kids Can Play” White Sox were on their way to a league-leading 95 wins and a postseason appearance.
It’s been a challenge, running separate White Sox sites for about eight months now. One of the downfalls is not being able to be in two places at one time.
So what should have been a timely obit early Thursday here, now turns into a Friday memoriam. And though I wrote on the passing of Ed Farmer at age 70 over at South Side Sox already and there is sure to be overlap, we can’t go without acknowledging the man who, with nearly three decades in the radio booth on the South Side, was a voice of a generation.
Not every game can we pass sitting in a man cave, corner bar or family den, sitting back with a beverage and pausing-rewinding unbelievable plays. Many of us are stuck on the road, or at work, or otherwise on the move and in desperate need of the trusted companion that is White Sox baseball on the radio.
And that’s just what Ed Farmer was to any of us who had a habit of listening to the game. His career in Chicago not only fairly well mirrored Hawk Harrelson’s, but the two had striking similarities. They both filled that rare role of color men in play-by-play shoes. And while Hawk steered toward intentional, and for a long time wildly entertaining, bombast, Farmio often struck a similar tone, more quietly. His was a sort of muted hyperbole.
He and longtime radio parter Darrin Jackson were well-matched. Both understated broadcasters, still willing to cut through the bull and lend a former player’s eye to the action.
It’s neither a surprise that DJ was loving in his tribute to Ed:
“My heart is broken, but my mind is at peace knowing my dear friend is no longer suffering,” Jackson said, in a team statement. “Ed was a competitor who also was everyone’s best friend. I saw firsthand how hard Ed fought each and every day and season after season to keep himself healthy and prepared to broadcast White Sox baseball. I first got to know Ed during my time in Chicago as a player and am honored to have been his friend and radio partner. My heart goes out to [wife] Barbara and [daughter] Shanda, the only people he loved more than the White Sox and his hometown of Chicago.”
Nor that his voice seemed to be cracking in his remarks to White Sox media on Thursday:
Many fans, friends and colleagues wrote and tweeted about Farmer yesterday, as the news sunk in that the radio voice of the White Sox was gone. And so many new him better than me. But still, on the beat even for a brief time, all of the regulars get close. I marched right into the TV booth well before one of my first games to tell the Hawk what a profound influence he was on me as a fan, and a writer. Steve Stone was (and I presume still is) a conspiratorial character on the road, taking time to chat after every game with writers and even fans, asking the temperature of the room before always giving you his take — the right one. DJ was sympathetic and caring, checking in, offering support, slowing down to stride alongside and put a new guy at ease. Heck, I even got to fulfill a childhood dream of holding court with Wimpy: Catching some trouble, and doling some out, too.
Farmer was a bit different from all of them. A man’s man, sure, like most ex-athletes, but yet very soft, surprisingly vulnerable. Losing parents very young (38 and 41) will do that — as will flying through the windshield of a car that crumpled your bike in the middle of a pro baseball career, or being yoked by a lifelong disease that you understand will likely kill you one day. For a prep phenom, major leaguer at 21, All-Star, beloved broadcaster, Farmio had seen some shit.
And he’ll tell you, bombastic or barely audible both. When the Notre Dame volume went up, I tuned out and went to see which classic artist Omar Vizquel was studying on this particular road trip. But when approached with a question about his career, or a game situation that had me puzzled, Farmer was thoughtful and measured, unfailingly precise in his assessments. He downplayed his own greatness, whether as a promising hoops star or a guy (then) among the Top 200 in all-time saves — just so long as you clearly did know his place in the game.
By listening to him on a broadcast, you would not have thought that gentility was his personal brand. But behind the man behind the mic, and even stitched into some of his best broadcasts on a repeat listen, it’s there.
And while even those of us who came to depend on the radio to connect us to our White Sox may tend to understate the medium’s importance, and that of its purveyors, Farmer made a mark:
“Ed Farmer was the radio voice of the Chicago White Sox for three decades, and he called no-hitters, perfect games and of course, a World Series championship,” White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a team statement. “His experience as a major league All-Star pitcher, his wry sense of clubhouse humor, his love of baseball and his passion for the White Sox combined to make White Sox radio broadcasts the sound of summer for millions of fans. Ed grew up a Sox fan on the South Side of Chicago and his allegiance showed every single night on the radio as he welcomed his ‘friends’ to the broadcast. I am truly devastated by the loss of my friend.”
He was a hometown boy made good, and through his own goodness planted roots here after his playing career dissolved into what-ifs and tall tales.
And what’s great, in its own painful way, is that even in death, we never stop learning about these men we watched, listened to, and admired. I was today years old when I found out that Basketball Hall of Fame GM Jerry Krause didn’t just lobby the White Sox to acquire Farmer in 1979 (they listened), but that Krause was the original scout to sign him for Cleveland.
Just like Farmer’s playing career was largely overshadowed by the stars of the starting rotation and pen, there were more colorful, even stronger, broadcasters in town during Farmer’s career. But he cared deeply for our team, and that affection bled through his announcing work. It’s not for nothing that some of the best highlights from 2005, or for any White Sox season stretching back almost three decades, feature Farmer’s voice on the soundtrack.
Today, the White Sox put it perfectly, with a wonderful tribute:
New exes: Ed Herrmann hangs with former teammate Bill Melton at Comiskey Park in 1975,
1975 In an indication of how bad off the White Sox were financially, Ed Herrmann (one of the top catchers in baseball) was traded to the Yankees for four minor league players. The reason? According to Herrmann, it was because he wanted a $2,000 raise!
2011 The White Sox started the season with a torrent of runs in blistering Cleveland, 15-10. It was the second-highest scoring total on Opening Day in franchise history. The Sox led 14-0 after the first five innings. Carlos Quentin drove in five runs, and newcomer Adam Dunn knocked in four.
Mr. Reliable: Juan Uribe went 3-for-4 with a walk, and he delivered a key RBI double early on. (@whitesox)
The White Sox could not finish off the Royals in nine innings, but they finished the job in the 10th in this 3-2 victory.
Things got off to a promising start in the top of the first, when Scott Podsednik led off with a single. John Buck committed catcher’s interference, so Tadahito Iguchi was awarded first base. The great start to the game continued when the Royals made things even harder on themselves, as pitcher Zack Greinke balked the runners over. Suddenly, the White Sox had runners on second and third with no outs. Carl Everett drove Podsednik home with an RBI groundout, but that was all the White Sox could score that inning.
The Royals got that run back in the bottom of the first against starter José Contreras. This happened immediately, as leadoff hitter David DeJesus hit a solo homer to right-center. Fortunately, the White Sox fired right back in the top of the second, as A.J. Pierzynski was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. The next batter, Juan Uribe, drove a liner into the left field corner to drive Pierzynski in to make the score 2-1.
Though the offenses came out firing, this turned out to be a low-scoring game. This was partially due to the recovery of José Contreras after allowing the home run to DeJesus. However, Contreras had to leave this game in the fourth when he pulled the lower hamstring in his right leg. Injuries are always unfortunate, and this one hurt a bit worse than most considering how well Contreras looked after the home run. Contreras reached 97 mph, and he retired all six he faced in the second and third innings, striking out five of them. His final line: third and one-third innings, one run (it was earned), one hit, one walk, and six strikeouts. Let’s hope the injury is not too serious.
Thanks to excellent relief appearances by Cliff Politte and Neal Cotts, the score remained 2-1 until the bottom of the eighth. With a runner on third and two outs, Mike Sweeney came up to bat in a huge spot, and he delivered. Sweeney’s single brought us right back to where we started, as the score was tied once again. Matt Stairs followed with a single to put runners on the corners, but Luiz Vizcaino limited the damage to just one run by retiring 2003 AL Rookie of the Year Angel Berroa.
The Royals had a golden opportunity to win the game in the bottom of the ninth, as a one-out double by John Buck put runners on second and third. After an intentional walk to former White Sox Tony Graffanino, the bases were loaded for pinch-hitter Eli Marrero. But, the White Sox caught a huge break from the runner on third, Matt Diaz. On a pitch that got away from Pierzynski, Diaz took a big gamble by trying to score, and he failed. Pierzynski made an excellent play, as he got the ball over to Damaso Marte in time to tag Diaz out. Marte proceeded to strike Marrero out to force the game into extras.
In the 10th, the White Sox finally put their third run on the board. After singles by Jermaine Dye and Juan Uribe, the White Sox had runners on the corners with two outs. Aaron Rowand came up to bat with a chance to give the White Sox the lead, and he did just that. Rowand lined a single into right-center field, and Marte went on to pitch a 1-2-3 10th inning to seal it.
This was the White Sox’s fifth consecutive win, and they improved to 14-4 on the season. That 14-4 record is the best start to a season in franchise history. Meanwhile, the hapless Royals fell to 5-13. The White Sox are seeking a third straight sweep when they take on the Royals tomorrow (April 24, 2005) afternoon. But, let’s look at a couple of questions first:
In 2003, which White Sox infielder hit three home runs in a game against the Royals?
Which member of the 2005 White Sox started an All-Star Game for the Royals?
Coming through in the clutch: So far, Nomar Mazara’s come-from-behind three-run homer is the biggest White Sox hit in the young season. (Sean Williams/South Side Hit Pen)
Tuesday evening’s game in Cleveland came down to the wire, but the Good Guys came out on top in a 5-4 thriller.
Yasmani Grandal walked in the second inning, and he later came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Nomar Mazara (much more on him later). Grandal is off to a slow start offensively (.158/.238/.211), but it is still very early. While Grandal went hitless, he went on to draw another walk later on to reach base safely twice in four plate appearances.
Mazara’s sacrifice fly put the White Sox on the board with a 1-0 lead, and the score remained the same until the top of the fifth. That was when leadoff hitter Tim Anderson smashed a homer off Cleveland’s rookie southpaw Scott Moss. Moss was excellent in this game, only allowing those two runs (both earned) on three hits in eight innings, striking out eight. Moss appears very much ready for the show, but Anderson took advantage of one of his few mistakes and drove it out for his first homer.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, starter Gio González, making his White Sox debut (he finally pitched for the White Sox!), was on top of his game. González lasted five and two-thirds innings, which isn’t outstanding by any means, but he kept Cleveland off the board. González struck out four Cleveland hitters, walked three, and he allowed four hits. Reliever Steve Cishek had another great performance, retiring all four batters he faced, striking out one of them. Cishek, who recently came over from the other side of Chicago, has now thrown three and two-thirds scoreless innings for the White Sox, and his WHIP is an excellent 0.273.
Offense came at a premium in this matchup, so the score remained 2-0 until the bottom of the eighth, when the wheels fell off. Alex Colomé took over on the mound for Cishek, and he had a nightmarish evening. Of the five batters Colomé faced, three of them went yard. Francisco Lindor led off the inning with a homer, his third of the year. Two batters later, Franmil Reyes launched his fourth dinger, and two batters after Reyes, Domingo Santana launched his second. Then, with a 3-2 deficit, the bases empty, and two outs, Rick Rentería pulled Colomé for Evan Marshall. Carlos Santana reached on an error, and he came around to score an unearned run when Jordan Luplow drove him in with a double.
All of a sudden, entering the ninth, the White Sox trailed by a score of 4-2, and they desperately needed baserunners. The White Sox had struggled to get baserunners all evening. However, they managed to get on base when they needed to. With two on and one out, Nomar Mazara stepped up to the plate against Nick Wittgren. Wittgren missed his spot, but Mazara did not miss the ball. Mazara launched his second home run of the season, and this one silenced the Cleveland crowd.
In the blink of an eye, the White Sox were back on top, with a 5-4 lead. The White Sox did not tack on any insurance runs, so the bottom of the ninth was stressful. Rentería turned to Aaron Bummer, who the White Sox recently gave a contract extension to. Uncharacteristically, Bummer faced all sorts of problems finding the strike zone, walking two of the three batters he faced. Bummer also allowed a single, though he did record an out when Adam Engel gunned down Óscar Mercado trying to advance to third on said single. When Bummer departed, there were runners on first and second, one out, and the White Sox were clinging to a 5-4 lead.
In stepped Jace Fry, perhaps the best story from the 2018 season, in a huge spot. The batter was Franmil Reyes, who had just homered the previous inning. On the second pitch, Reyes beat a curveball (this is an educated guess; Baseball-Reference does not disclose pitch types) into the ground, and the White Sox turned a double play to end the threat and seal a thrilling victory.
And so, despite only getting five hits, the White Sox got a hard-earned victory at Progressive Field. After tonight’s victory, the White Sox’s record sits at 3-2, which is now the same as Cleveland’s record. The White Sox will wrap up this three-game in Cleveland tomorrow, and they will look to complete a sweep. Let’s get it done, but first, let’s take a look at a couple of trivia questions related to tonight:
In this simulation, Nomar Mazara just became the third member of the White Sox to hit his second home run. Last season, who were the first three White Sox players to reach two homers?
The White Sox drafted Jace Fry, who earned his first save since August 29, 2018, out of the same school as Nick Madrigal. Which school is this?
Big blast: Frank Thomas was the first White Sox player to homer in a regular-season March game.
1996 Because of a quirk in the calendar the White Sox had a March Opening Day for the first time in franchise history, when they started the 1996 season in Seattle on the final day of the month. Frank Thomas hit a two-run home run off of Randy Johnson in the first inning, but the Sox lost the game, 3-2, in 12 innings.
1971 Another good deal pulled off by the White Sox and GM Roland Hemond. He sent catcher Duane Josephson and pitcher Danny Murphy to the Red Sox for relief pitcher Vicente Romo and first baseman Tony Muser.
Muser was one of the best defensive first baseman in baseball and was tremendous as a late-inning replacement for Dick Allen. He was an earlier version of Mike Squires, if you will. Romo helped stabilize a young White Sox bullpen with an ERA of 3.33 and six saves in his two years with the team, primarily as a middle relief guy.
1981 Shortly before the start of the regular season, the White Sox purchased the contract of Chicago native slugger Greg Luzinski from the Phillies. The strongman would become a two-time American League Designated Hitter of the Year and provide solid power to the middle of the batting order. In his three-and-a-half seasons with the White Sox he pounded out 84 home runs and drove in 317 RBIs. “Bull” would also become the first man to hit three rooftop home runs in a single season at the original Comiskey Park (1983).
1982 Needing outfield help, White Sox GM Roland Hemond sent two prospects to the Dodgers for the speedy Rudy Law. Law would smash the team’s stolen base record in 1983, swiping 77 bases. His career on the South Side wasn’t long, but it was memorable, as he supplied speed and defense to the 1983 Western Division champions. In his four years with the Sox, Rudy stole 171 bases.
1992 Seeking another power bat to hit behind Frank Thomas and Robin Ventura and not being able to close a deal with Mark McGwire, White Sox GM Ron Schueler dealt outfielder Sammy Sosa and pitcher Ken Patterson to the Cubs for outfielder/DH George Bell. Bell would have 112 RBIs in 1992 and a solid 1993, but outbursts during the 1993 ALCS over playing time sealed his fate with the organization.
Sosa would become the face of the Cubs and challenge the all-time single season home run marks in the late 1990s. However in the wake of the steroid scandal and his potential involvement with it he left baseball with a cloud over him, with his future Hall of Fame chances in real jeopardy.
Doubling up: Joe Crede drove in the first run of the game with a double to center field. (@TheSoxSide)
While there were 25 hits in this game, there were only four runs. Timely hitting was hard to come by, but the White Sox found just enough, while the Twins did not.
Both teams got off to a slow start offensively, though hitters weren’t exactly overpowered by starters Orlando Hernández and Brad Radke. During the first four innings, nobody scored, though scoring threats were plentiful. In the bottom of the first, the White Sox managed to put runners on the corners with no outs, but Radke escaped the jam. In the top of the second, the Twins put runners on the corners with no outs, but Hernández wiggled out of it. In the fourth, the Twins put runners on first and second, but Michael Cuddyer grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. In the fifth, the Twins put runners on the corners with two outs, but a 1-3 groundout ended it, so the score remained 0-0.
In the bottom of the fifth, the White Sox finally broke the ice. A.J. Pierzynski led off with a single, which set the table for Joe Crede. Crede hit a line drive to deep center, which Torii Hunter made an uncharacteristically poor read on. Initially, Hunter started running in on Crede’s liner, which made it impossible for him to make the catch. Pierzynski scored, and Crede ended up at second. Crede went on to score on a sacrifice fly by Scott Podsednik to make it 2-0.
In the sixth, the Twins squandered a scoring opportunity yet again, and Paul Konerko added an insurance run with a solo homer. Incredibly, Konerko already has seven home runs this season, and he is slashing .260/.315/.700.
The bullpen did a great job holding the Twins’ bats in check, so the White Sox did not need any more insurance. Southpaw Damaso Marte retired the only two batters he faced to record the save, his first of the year. The only hiccup for the bullpen came when Shingo Takatsu allowed a double to Shannon Stewart and a single to Matt LeCroy. LeCroy’s RBI single resulted in the Twins’ only run.
Don’t look now, but after this victory, the White Sox have the best record in the American League (10-4). Meanwhile, the Twins have sole possession of second place in the AL Central (8-6). Tomorrow (April 20, 2005), the White Sox will open a two-game series at Comerica Park, as they will take on the Tigers. Jon Garland and Wil Ledezma will be the probable starting pitchers.
Let’s take a look at a couple of trivia questions, shall we?
Tonight, Orlando Hernández allowed 10 hits but did not allow any runs. No White Sox pitcher has done that since 1984. Who was that 1984 pitcher?
This player, who led the 1983 AL West champions in stolen bases, also led them in postseason hits.
Richard Dotson (To be exact, Dotson allowed 11 hits and somehow escaped every jam unscathed)
Rudy Law (77 stolen bases that year, which is still a franchise record, and it will probably stand for a very long time)
Lurker Laura jumps on the podcast to talk about the changes proposed to the 2020 baseball season, including an abridged schedule and shortened draft. And of course, the delicious desert of the podcast is the unveiling of Laura’s diary entries from 2005, her “lost B-Sides” never before published that tell the saga of Carlos Lee, and the triumph of an Opening Day win, and more.