One of the most highly-anticipated Opening Days in franchise history got snowed out. The White Sox were set to host Boston and the organization was expecting a crowd of around 50,000. That got torpedoed when a blizzard hammered the entire Midwest, cancelling games for days. In fact, the season didn’t open until April 11 in New York, with a doubleheader win over the Yankees.
The same night North Carolina State upset Houston for the NCAA basketball title, the White Sox opened their division championship season dropping a 5-3 game at Texas. The Sox scored three times in the top of the first but were handcuffed after that. Errors by rookies Scott Fletcher and Greg Walker were costly to pitcher LaMarr Hoyt. The Sox would drop all three games to the Rangers, but rebounded to win 99 of the final 159 to take the division by a record 20 games.
It was Ken Williams’ one moment in the sun as a player. On Opening Day, Williams belted a two-run homer in the fifth inning off of California’s Mike Witt to help the Sox to an 8-5 win. Williams would drive in three runs on the afternoon.
The bittersweet shortened season started in Canada with a rematch of the 1993 ALCS. Toronto won this Opening Day 7-3 by blasting Jack McDowell (the reigning Cy Young Award winner) just as they did twice in the postseason the year before.
The World Series season got off to a great start, as a packed house saw Mark Buehrle and Shingo Takatsu shut out Cleveland 1-0 in a game that took less than two hours! That season the White Sox would roar out of the gate at 26-9, the best 35-game start in franchise history.
Three bagged: Lance Johnson was a triples machine on the South Side. (Fleer)
Another one of the smaller moves completed by White Sox GM Larry Himes that paid off in a major way. Himes shipped pitcher Jose DeLeon to the Cardinals for pitcher Ricky Horton and outfielder Lance Johnson. Johnson, would blossom into one of the better defensive center fielders in the American League, become a solid hitter and steal 226 bases in his eight years on the South Side. He led the American League in triples four straight seasons between 1991 and 1994.
Johnson would have a 25-game hitting streak in 1992, batting .439 during that stretch and would also collect six hits in six at-bats in a game at Minnesota on Sept. 23, 1995 (three of his six hits were triples). He would sign a free agent contract with the Mets after the 1995 season.
Big win: All his early work with the White Sox paid off, as La Russa took home Manager of the Year hardware in 1983. (Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation)
1983 — Tony La Russa, who guided the White Sox to a 99-win season and their first playoff appearance in 24 years, was named the Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers Association of America. It was the first year the organization handed out that award. La Russa received 17 of a possible 28 votes to take the honor. He beat out the Orioles Joe Altobelli, who picked up seven first-place votes. La Russa also would take Manager of the Year honors from The Sporting News and the Associated Press.
1988 — The Sox named Jeff Torborg as the team’s new field manager. Torborg, a former major league catcher, and Indians manager, gained notable success with the club. His team and family philosophy took hold, and a young group of players stunned the baseball world by winning 94 games in 1990. (Torborg would be named Manager of the Year that season.) He followed up that year by winning 87 games in 1991 before being forced out by GM Ron Schueler, who wanted to hire his own man.
Torborg, by the way, is the only man in baseball history to have caught a perfect game from Sandy Koufax and a no-hitter from Nolan Ryan, as he played for the Dodgers and Angels from 1964 through 1973.