High hopes: It worked out for most of these guys on the South Side … except Sax, (exit stage) far right.
It was one of the worst deals of White Sox GM Ron Schueler‘s career, as he traded pitcher Melido Perez and two minor leaguers to the Yankees for Steve Sax. Schueler envisioned a devastating 1-2 punch at the top of the order in Tim Raines and Sax, followed by Frank Thomas and Robin Ventura. It never happened, as Sax suddenly forget how to hit and was gone from the team by late April 1994. Making matters worse is that one of the minor league pitchers dealt was Bob Wickman, who’d go on to become a top relief pitcher and All-Star.
Sax did have one moment of glory, as on May 5, 1993 in Milwaukee he made an incredible catch in left field on a ball hit by Billy Doran with the lead run on base. It happened in the eighth inning. Sax broke back and to his left on the drive and caught the ball with his right arm extended. The angle and momentum caused him to tumble over and he lost the ball out of his glove on the way down. Just before hitting the ground, however, Sax snagged the ball with his bare left hand, holding it up to the umpire after he hit the grass. That saved a run, and the Sox won the game, 3-1, on a Ventura home run in the top of the ninth inning.
After one injury-plagued, controversial season with the Sox, pitcher David Wells signed a contract with the Yankees. Wells won only five games in 2001 on the South Side. Naturally, he then turned around and won 61 games over the next four years with New York, San Diego and Boston.
Lost opportunity: This utter gem of a photo was never used by Topps, which is a crime against cardboard. (Topps)
1971 — It was the trade that perhaps saved the franchise: White Sox player personnel director Roland Hemond sent pitcher Tommy John and infielder Steve Huntz to the Dodgers for disgruntled slugger Dick Allen. Allen, one of the most prolific talents in the game, marched to his own drummer and was deemed difficult to handle by other teams and managers. Somehow Sox skipper Chuck Tanner, who had known the Allen family for years, got the best out of him. Allen would almost singlehandedly lead the team to the 1972 playoffs, winning the American League MVP. He’d win two home run titles in his three years on the South Side and be named to three All-Star teams. His popularity kept the turnstiles spinning and the White Sox solvent.
An hour later, Hemond stole pitcher Stan Bahnsen from the Yankees for infielder Rich McKinney. Bahnsen would go on to win 21 games in 1972.
2002 — And now, a deal that didn’t work too well for the White Sox: GM Ken Williams traded closer Keith Foulke, catcher Mark Johnson and a third player to the A’s for pitchers Billy Koch, Neal Cotts and a third player. Koch never found the success he’d had in Toronto or Oakland, in part because of a rare illness. Cotts, at least, would have a spectacular season in 2005, helping the Sox win the World Series.
Foulke meanwhile, saved 44 games and made the All-Star team in 2003. In his defense, Williams may have had his hands tied by the fact that manager Jerry Manuel had lost confidence in Foulke and refused to pitch him in key situations in the back half of the 2002 season.