Temp fireman: Tommy John earned an Opening Day save in 1965, but soon would blossom into an ace starter.
The White Sox turned the tide so to speak from 1964, beating the Orioles in Baltimore on Opening Day by the score of 5-3. They lost to the same club to open the 1964 season at Comiskey Park by the exact margin. Tommy John, making his White Sox debut, picked up the save for Gary Peters. The 1965 White Sox would win 95 games under Al Lopez, in his last full season as Sox skipper.
Totally Terrific: Both Carlton Fisk and Tom Seaver had late-career renaissances in Chicago.
Another big deal pulled off by White Sox GM Ed Short kept the franchise’s streak of winning seasons going. The Sox were part of a three-team trade with Cleveland and the Athletics. When all was said and done, the Sox parted with outfielders Jim Landis and Mike Hershberger, pitcher Fred Talbot and catcher Cam Carreon.
In return they got back power-hitting catcher Johnny Romano, pitcher Tommy John and outfielder Tommie Agee. Agee would be named Rookie of the Year in 1966, becoming the first Sox player ever with 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in a season; John would be part of a brilliant starting rotation, making the All-Star team for the first time in 1968. Romano wasn’t a slouch either in his second stint with the club, banging out 33 home runs in two seasons before being traded.
Once again White Sox GM Roland Hemond used the free agent compensation rule to the White Sox’s advantage, plucking future Hall-of-Famer Tom Seaver from the Mets. In his two full years with the Sox, Seaver would win 31 games, including his 300th overall on Aug. 4, 1985 against the Yankees. In both full seasons he’d combine to throw more than 236 innings.
Brat attack: Stanky was a winning manager for the White Sox, but wore out his welcome quickly. (Topps)
In an unexpected move the Sox named “The Brat,” Eddie Stanky, as the team’s new manager replacing the retired Al Lopez. Stanky was an intense, obsessed man, the 1960s version of Billy Martin or Earl Weaver.
Stanky knew baseball and was a genius at tactical decisions but he was also extremely unpopular with many of his players. He imposed a curfew, dress code and a rigorous calisthenics program on the team. He would fine players (or bench them) every time they weren’t able to lay down a bunt, hit a sacrifice fly or advance runners into scoring position. He offered a new suit of clothes for any pitcher who threw a complete game with at least a certain number of ground ball outs. For stolen bases or advancing into scoring position the player would get a new pair of dress shoes. He’d have winning seasons in 1966 and 1967, nearly taking the pennant, but by early 1968 his act had grown old and he was fired… and replaced with …Lopez!
The White Sox traded former Cy Young Award winner Jack McDowell to the Yankees for two minor league players. McDowell was the winningest pitcher in the American League between 1990 and 1994. The move, which left the Sox pitching staff without its leader, proved very costly during the 1996 wild card collapse. The trade was made purely for financial reasons related to the labor situation that cost the team the last two months of the 1994 season.
What could have been: If Schueler hadn’t pulled the trigger on his biggest deal, bringing PK to the South Side for more than a decade. (Topps)
1965 — “The Señor,” manager Al Lopez, resigned his position with the White Sox. Perhaps the greatest manager in franchise history, Lopez had nine winning seasons in his nine full time years as field manager. He won the 1959 American League pennant and was coming off of back-to-back-to-back 90-plus win seasons in 1963, 1964 and 1965. His 840 wins are the second-most in team history. He returned to manage for parts of the 1968 and 1969 seasons.
1998 — Perhaps the finest deal ever made by White Sox GM Ron Schueler came on this date, when he traded promising center fielder Mike Cameron to the Cincinnati Reds for infielder Paul Konerko. Konerko would eventually blossom into a consistent power-hitting first baseman, hitting 432 home runs with 1,383 RBIs in his career. Konerko was a six-time All-Star, a World Series champion, the 2005 ALCS MVP and the 2002 Comeback Player of the Year.
2005 — They never made it on the cover of Sports Illustrated for winning the World Series, but the Sox did grace the cover of The Sporting News for the accomplishment. The caption was short and to the point: “Sweep!”
Culpable: Ward had a pair of solo home runs during a strange Sox streak in ’65.
Sept. 25, 1965 — The White Sox set the franchise record by hitting their 15th consecutive solo home run. The streak started at Baltimore on September 2, when Johnny Romano homered in the second game of a doubleheader. The run continued until this day in New York. Pitcher Tommy John hit the last home run in the streak. The breakdown saw Ken Berry with five solo home runs, Don Buford, Romano and Pete Ward with a pair each and John, Floyd Robinson, Moose Skowron and Bill Voss with one solo home run. The Sox would tie this rather odd record in 2016.