Today in White Sox History: April 8

Whoops: This is not Denny McLain. (Topps)


1963
On this date, one of the biggest “what if’s” in franchise history took place. Per the rules at the time, the White Sox had to choose between two pitchers signed to “bonus baby” contracts; only one player signed to a deal for more than a certain amount of money could remain in the organization. The other would have to be waived.

With that in mind, rookies Bruce Howard and Denny McLain squared off in an intrasquad game to see who would be released and who got promoted to Double-A Lynchburg. Howard won, 2-1, so McLain got his walking papers and was claimed by Detroit the following week. He’d go on to win 131 big league games including 31 in 1968.


1991
Baltimore was always a “house of horrors” for the White Sox, but on this day they got the last laugh. The South Siders spoiled the last home opener in old Memorial Stadium by ripping the Orioles, 9-1. Sammy Sosa clubbed two home runs off of Jeff Ballard to lead the rout. He’d knock in five runs on the afternoon. Jack McDowell went the distance, striking out 10.


 

 

 

Today in White Sox History: January 14

Steal of a deal: Ed Short snagged four cornerstones of the mid-1960s White Sox, including Pete Ward, in a single trade in 1963.


1963
In a move that re-energized the franchise and led directly to back-to-back-to-back 90-or-more-win seasons in 1963, 1964 and 1965. White Sox GM Ed Short traded shortstop Luis Aparicio and outfielder Al Smith to the Baltimore Orioles for third baseman Pete Ward, outfielder Dave Nicholson, shortstop Ron Hansen and relief pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm.

Ward would be named co-Rookie of the Year (with teammate Gary Peters) and would supply power for the next few seasons. Nicholson, who struck out far too much, would have 22 home runs and 70 RBIs in 1963. Hansen would be one of the best defensive shortstops in the league and hit as many as 20 home runs in a season, at a time when shortstops simply didn’t do that. Wilhelm became the top relief pitcher of the 1960’s; in his six years with the Sox he’d win 41 games and save 98 others while producing some astonishingly low ERAs considering he threw the knuckleball.


2001
The White Sox acquired pitcher David Wells from Toronto, basically for pitcher Mike Sirotka. Over the coming weeks and months, Sirotka and the Blue Jays claimed the Sox knew that Sirotka had a bad arm and couldn’t pitch. Sox GM Ken Williams defended himself by saying that he told the Jays he thought Sirotka might be hurt and offered pitcher Jim Parque instead. Commissioner Bud Selig ruled in late March that the trade would stand. The whole episode became known as “Shouldergate.”

 

 

Today in White Sox History: December 10

Doubling back: After his brother purchased the club from Bill Veeck in 1961, John Allyn returns the “keys to the White Sox.”


1963
One of the last players from the “Go-Go” Sox era, second baseman Nellie Fox, was traded to the Houston Colt 45s for pitchers Jim Golden and Danny Murphy. Fox, who’d eventually be elected to the Hall of Fame, played for 14 years on the South Side, being named to 12 All-Star teams. He was AL MVP in 1959 and won three Gold Gloves. Fox was dealt because young infielder Don Buford had hit .336 at Indianapolis and was ready to take over.


1975
After first being turned down, American League owners voted to allow Bill Veeck to buy the White Sox from John Allyn. The agreement kept the team in Chicago and ended speculation that the Sox were bound for Seattle, with Charlie Finley’s A’s headed for the South Side. Major League baseball wanted the Sox to move to the Pacific Northwest in order to end lawsuits filed after the Pilots were moved to Milwaukee before the start of the 1970 season.

It was the second time Veeck owned the club, the first time being from 1959 through July 1961.


1976
Bill Veeck came up with a unique way to try to bolster his cash-strapped franchise: A Rent-a-Player approach, attempting to acquire as many players as possible who were about to become free agents. He figured that because those players were playing for new, big money deals, they’d play hard every night.

With that as the backdrop, he traded relief pitchers Rich Gossage and Terry Forster, both former American League Fireman of the Year winners, to the Pirates for slugger Richie Zisk and pitcher Silvio Martinez.

Zisk, in his one season on the South Side, would belt 30 home runs and knock in 101 as the undisputed leader of the South Side Hit Men who shocked baseball by winning 90 games in 1977. Among Zisk’s home runs that season were a blast into the original center field bleachers at Comiskey Park (under the exploding scoreboard) and one over the roof and out of the park in left-center.


1987
GM Larry Himes sent pitcher Floyd Bannister and infielder Dave Cochrane to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for four players, including pitchers Greg Hibbard and Melido Perez. Both would help stabilize the starting rotation in the early 1990s.

 

Today in White Sox History: September 27


Sept. 27, 1959 — The White Sox closed their championship season with a 6-4 win at Detroit and when the final stats were in, second baseman Nellie Fox pulled off a rare feat, leading all American League second baseman in fielding percentage, putouts and assists.                 


Sept. 27, 1963 — During the last home doubleheader, the White Sox caught on to the folk music craze sweeping the nation. Between games against the Washington Senators, the club had a hootenanny promotion where folk groups and singers held a concert on the field.


Sept. 27, 1967— The White Sox finished the season with the two worst teams in the league, the Kansas City A’s and Washington Senators, and fans could smell that elusive World Series.

However it all began to fall apart when the Sox dropped a doubleheader to the A’s (5-2 and 4-0) after rain postponed the game Tuesday night. The Sox, in the middle of a pennant race, got more than three days off, not having played since Sunday afternoon in Cleveland. Pitchers Gary Peters and Joe Horlen got tagged with the losses on “Black Wednesday,” but the final embarrassment was yet to come.


Sept. 27, 1993 — In front of a capacity crowd at Comiskey Park II, the White Sox clinched the Western Division by beating Seattle, 4-2. It was Bo Jackson who clubbed a towering, three-run blast that just dropped over the wall in left that was the difference in the game. The homer capped off an incredible comeback season for one of the finest athletes in history. Also in this game Sox starting pitcher Wilson Alvarez saw his streak of 30 consecutive shutout innings snapped when Seattle got to him for two runs in the eighth. The Sox went 94-68 and took the title by eight games over Texas.


Sept. 27, 2003 — In one of the highest scoring games in their history, the White Sox battered the Royals in Kansas City, 19-3. Pitcher Bartolo Colon won this one easily. Joe Crede and Carl Everett both had four RBIs.


Sept. 27, 2011 — Pitcher Mark Buehrle set the franchise record when, for the 11th straight season he made at least 30 starts, won at least 10 games and pitched at least 200 innings. Buehrle set the milestone during a 2-1 win over the Blue Jays. Those numbers were a testament to his ability, dedication and durability.  


Sept. 27, 2014 — The Chicago White Sox have had a number of great players over the decades. One of them was first baseman Paul Konerko, and on this day the Sox honored Paul with a ceremony and unveiled a sculpture of him. The numbers showed that Konerko was one of the best players in franchise history, hitting 432 home runs and driving in 1,383 RBIs. He was a six time All-Star, a World Series champion, the 2005 ALCS MVP and 2002 Comeback Player of the Year. Konerko would play his final game for the Sox the next day, and retired after 16 seasons with the club. In May 2015, Konerko returned to U.S. Cellular Field and had his No. 14 retired.