This Week in White Sox History: March 8-14

The Most: Johnny Mostil (left), one of the best outfielders in White Sox history saw things take a very bad turn 93 years ago.


March 8, 1948
WGN, channel 9 in Chicago, announced that it would televise White Sox games for the first time. Veteran radio sports broadcasters Jack Brickhouse and Harry Creighton would become the first White Sox TV announcers in history.


March 9, 1927
Popular Sox outfielder Johnny Mostil attempted suicide in a hotel room in Shreveport, La. Despite razor cuts to his wrist, neck and chest, Mostil survived and returned to the team in April although he’d only play in 13 games that season. In 10 years with the White Sox, Mostil would hit better than .300 four times. After his career he’d become a longtime White Sox scout/coach and help develop future players like All-Star outfielder Jim Landis.


March 10, 1995
After two stints at White Sox spring training and a full season in Birmingham, Michael Jordan announced he was giving up baseball. Part of the reason was because of his struggles with the game, but the other, larger part (as he explained to author Bob Greene, in the book, “Rebound, The Odyssey of Michael Jordan”) was because he was being pressured by Sox G.M. Ron Schueler to cross the MLBPA picket line.

With “replacement” games set to start, Jordan stated that he was told if he didn’t cross the line, he’d be banished from the main clubhouse. Jordan was furious, saying that he was promised by owner Jerry Reinsdorf he wouldn’t have to take that step. Jordan explained that under no circumstances would he ever cross a labor picket line regardless of sport: “I told them from the beginning that I didn’t want them to use me to make money in the spring training games. We had an understanding. It was never supposed to even come up. I was disgusted that the promise wasn’t going to be honored,” he told Greene. Jordan would return to the Bulls and win three more championships.


March 11, 1968
White Sox rookie pitcher Cisco Carlos was part of the cover shot for Sports Illustrated. The headline read, “The Best Rookies Of 1968.” Unfortunately, Carlos didn’t turn out to be one of them, either in the short term or the long one. In fact, of the five players on the cover only Johnny Bench and Mike Torrez made a name for themselves in the sport. In two-and-a-half seasons with the White Sox, Carlos went 10-17.


March 12, 1973
White Sox third baseman and former AL home run champ Bill Melton appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The headline read, “Chicago Comes Out Swinging. Slugger Bill Melton.” Melton would have a nice comeback season after missing most of 1972 with a herniated disc, hitting .277 with 20 home runs and 87 RBIs.


March 13, 2000
White Sox slugger Frank Thomas is again featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. A lengthy story covered his career, controversies and his desire to return to the top of the game. The headline stated, “Don’t Question My Desire. Frank Thomas Comes Out Swinging.” Thomas would have a spectacular season in 2000, losing out on his third AL MVP to Jason Giambi, who’d later admit to using steroids in grand jury testimony. Frank’s numbers in 2000 included a .328 batting average, 43 home runs, 143 RBIs, 112 walks and a slugging percentage of .625.


March 14, 1994
Sports Illustrated took issue with former NBA superstar Michael Jordan and his attempt to play baseball. Jordan was on the cover of SI again, but in a negative light. The headline read, “Bag It Michael! Jordan and the White Sox Are Embarrassing Baseball.” From that day on, Jordan (who was always very cooperative with that magazine) would never speak to Sports Illustrated again.

Today in White Sox History: February 24

Damn Yankees: The Bronx Bombers lifted Eddie Lopat off of the White Sox 72 years ago. 


1948
White Sox GM Les O’Connor sent pitcher Eddie Lopat to the Yankees for three players. Lopat, a soft tossing, off-speed pitcher would quickly develop into one of the aces on the Yankees dynasty clubs of the 1950s. Of the players the Sox got in return, only pitcher Bill Wight had any success on the South Side, winning 34 games in three seasons. Another one of the players acquired, catcher Aaron Robinson, would be flipped that November to the Tigers for a youngster named Billy Pierce.

 

Today in White Sox History: November 10


1948 — New White Sox GM Frank Lane made his first deal, and it was a beauty. Lane traded backup catcher Aaron Robinson to the Detroit Tigers for a young, left-handed pitcher named Billy Pierce. Pierce would become arguably the finest lefthander in White Sox history: He won 186 games in a Sox uniform with two 20-win seasons, seven All-Star selections and four one-hitters. He led the AL at various times in wins, complete games, ERA and strikeouts. He also was the first Chicago athlete to be put on the cover of Sports Illustrated (May 1957).


1993 Frank Thomas won his first MVP award, on the strength of a .317 batting average with 41 home runs and 128 RBIs. The Big Hurt was a large reason the Sox would win the Western Division championship. In a rarity, Thomas won his MVP by a unanimous vote of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Paul Molitor was a distant second. Thomas would repeat winning the award in 1994.


2014 — White Sox slugger José Abreu was named the unanimous winner by the Baseball Writers Association of America as the AL Rookie of the Year. He got all 30 votes on the basis of a spectacular first season in the major leagues, marked by a .317 average with 36 home runs and 107 RBIs. He led the major leagues in slugging percentage as well. Pitcher Matt Shoemaker of the Angels was second.

Today in White Sox History: October 8

The last time your editor cried over a ballgame: Tito Landrum crushes Britt Burns‘ (and another BB’s) dreams in 1983.


1948Frank “Trader” Lane was recruited out of the Big Ten Conference and took over as the new general manager of the White Sox. Lane would go on to become one of the greatest GMs in team history. Among the players acquired by Lane, who made over 230 trades in his Sox tenure, were such future All-Stars as Nellie Fox, Sherm Lollar, Billy Pierce, Chico Carrasquel and Minnie Miñoso. Lane built the club that would go on to win the pennant in 1959.


1983 — With the White Sox down 2-1 in the ALCS, Jerry Dybzinski overran second base after a single by Julio Cruz in the seventh inning of a scoreless game at Comiskey Park. In the ensuing rundown Vance Law, who was on base in front of Dybzinski, was thrown out trying to score what would have been the go-ahead run. The Sox wound up losing the game and the series to the Orioles on a home run by Baltimore’s Tito Landrum in the 10th inning. The final score was 3-0, spoiling a masterful pitching performance by Sox pitcher Britt Burns.


1993 — With the White Sox down 2-0 in the ALCS, Wilson Alvarez pitched a gem and beat the Blue Jays 6-1. The Sox scored five runs in the third inning, which gave him some breathing room. Alvarez’s complete-game victory was badly needed, and gave Sox fans a reason to keep hoping.

Today in White Sox History: October 4

Bud man: By 1981, Harry had ditched the Falstaff for Budweiser. By 1982, he’d ditched the Sox. Here he is, broadcasting his last game, from Comiskey Park’s center field bleachers.


1948Chuck Comiskey III was named vice president of the White Sox. He refused to see the team continue to be the laughingstock of the American League and immediately began to take steps to change things on and off the field. Those changes started to bear fruit during the 1951 season.


1981Jerry Hairston’s grand slam helped beat the Minnesota Twins, 13-12, setting off Bill Veeck’s original exploding scoreboard for the last time. The blast came off of future White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper. The Sox trailed in the game 12-5 before scoring eight runs in the final two innings. The win gave the Sox their first “winning” year since 1977. The game also marked the end of broadcaster Harry Caray’s association with the Sox after 11 seasons.