Today in White Sox History: April 14

Tres Garcías: On this day in 2017, the White Sox outfield made history. (@WhiteSox)


1910
White Sox pitcher Frank Smith fired what remains the franchise’s only Opening Day one-hitter as he beat the St. Louis Browns in Chicago, 3-0. Smith would later go on to pitch for the Red Sox and Reds.


1917
White Sox pitching star Eddie Cicotte no-hit the St. Louis Browns, in a 11-0 laugher. The game was at St. Louis and remains the earliest no-hitter ever thrown by a Sox pitcher in a season.


1942
Because of the intervention of President Franklin Roosevelt, Major League Baseball continued during World War II. The Sox would lose to St. Louis, 3-0, this Opening Day and according to the reports of the time it was a very quiet, somber crowd. Marines and sailors marched in carrying the American flag from center field. Pearl Harbor was still etched in everyone’s memories.


1953
Cleveland’s Bob Lemon, who’d go on to manage the White Sox in 1977 and some of 1978, almost duplicated Bob Feller’s 1940 Opening Day no-hitter, holding the Sox to one hit in winning, 6-0. Feller’s gem is the only Opening Day no-hitter in MLB history. 


1955
The White Sox and Sandy Consuegra defeated the Kansas City Athletics, 7-1, in the Comiskey Park home opener. The game was the first-ever between the Sox and the Athletics since the A’s move from Philadelphia to Kansas City. Sandy went the distance, allowing only three hits.


1964
The bittersweet 1964 season began with the White Sox dropping a 5-3 decision to the Orioles in Chicago. Hoyt Wilhelm gave up three late runs to lose the game. The 1964 Sox would win 98 games … only to finish one game behind the Yankees for the pennant.


1981
In the home opener for the season and for new owners Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn, 51,560 fans poured into Comiskey Park to see the new faces and new attitude. The Sox put on a show in blowing apart Milwaukee, 9-3. The big blow was Carlton Fisk’s grand slam into left-center in the fourth inning off of former Sox hurler Pete Vuckovich.


2017
The White Sox started an all-García outfield at Minnesota, marking the first time in major league history a team’s three starting outfielders all had the same last name. All three collected hits, including Willy García, who doubled in his first big-league at-bat in the second. He played left field, with Leury García in center and Avisaíl García in right. The Alou brothers all played in the outfield for San Francisco in 1963 a few times, but all three never actually started a game together. The Sox won the contest, 2-1.


 

Today in White Sox History: April 10

Ho-lee Cow: On a first-pitch opportunity to stab the Red Sox in the heart, Carlton Fisk drove the knife in deep. (YouTube)


1959
The season opener to a memorable, pennant-winning year started in Detroit where Billy Pierce faced Jim Bunning. The Sox blew a 7-4 lead when the Tigers got three runs in the eighth inning, and matters weren’t decided until the 14th. That’s when Nellie Fox, who hit home runs as often as he struck out, blasted a two-run shot to give the Sox the 9-7 win. Fox would go 5-for-7 and knock in three runs that afternoon, despite freezing temperatures.


1961
White Sox outfielder “Jungle” Jim Rivera was always good for the unexpected. Right before the Sox played in Washington D.C. to open the season, President John Kennedy threw out the first ball. Rivera came up with it and was escorted to the President’s box, where both Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon Johnson signed the ball.

After Rivera looked at it he said to the President,You’ll have to do better than that, John. This is a scribble I can hardly read!” So Kennedy, in block letters, spelled out his name on the baseball. Oh … the Sox went on to win the game, 4-3, getting single runs in the seventh and eighth innings. It was the first game the expansion Washington Senators ever played.


1968
Social unrest on the West Side of Chicago after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King held the Opening Day crowd at Comiskey Park to fewer than 8,000. The White Sox got shut out by Cleveland’s Sonny Siebert, 9-0. It was the first of a franchise-record 10 straight losses to open the season. Coupled with the five straight losses to close out 1967, the Sox would end up dropping 15 in a row.


1981
If you had written the script and pitched it to Hollywood, it would have refused it on the grounds of corniness — but reality is sometimes stranger than fiction. Carlton Fisk, native son of New England, returned to Boston on Opening Day mere weeks after leaving the Red Sox for the White Sox. Fisk was declared a free agent after the Red Sox mailed him his contract past the legal deadline, and he left. With a new team, in a new uniform, Fisk immediately began making Boston pay as he ripped a first-pitch, three-run home run in the eighth inning off of Bob Stanley to put the White Sox ahead 3-2 in a game they’d win 5-3.


 

Today in White Sox History: April 7

Great White North: Jack Brohamer of the White Sox turns shin guards into snow shoes before Toronto’s MLB debut in 1977.


1970
The worst White Sox team in history began their forgettable season by getting pounded 12-0 at home by the Twins. Sox starting pitcher Tommy John only lasted into the fifth inning. The Sox would go on to lose a franchise-record 106 games.


1971
Charlie Finley, the A’s owner, got the first regularly scheduled Opening Day doubleheader in history but was stunned when the White Sox beat them twice, 6-5 and 12-4. Tommy John and Bart Johnson were the winning pitchers. The Sox clubbed five home runs on the day, including a grand slam by Bill Melton. It should have been six homers, except that Carlos May somehow missed touching home plate on his blast. The A’s picked up on it and tagged him out when he was sitting in the dugout.

This was also Harry Caray’s first regular season game as a White Sox announcer, although at the time not a whole lot of folks could hear him. Three straight awful years caused the Sox to lose their radio contract with any mainstream Chicago station. For the next two years Sox games were broadcast on WTAQ (LaGrange) and WEAW (Evanston), two low-powered stations.


1973
On Opening Day in Texas, Mike Andrews became the first White Sox DH. He hit sixth in the lineup for manager Chuck Tanner. He went 1-for-3 in the 3-1 win behind Wilbur Wood.


1977
The White Sox introduced American League baseball to Canada, as they played the first ever game in Toronto Blue Jays history. The Jays outslugged the Sox in a driving snowstorm to win, 9-5. But it was the start of something much bigger; the “South Side Hit Men” were born.


1984
Detroit’s Jack Morris threw what turned out to be the last no-hitter at Comiskey Park, shutting down the White Sox 4-0 on the NBC Saturday “Game of the Week.” The Sox had their chances, including loading the bases on walks in the fourth inning with nobody out.


1993
On his first swing of the season, future Hall-of-Famer Carlton Fisk would blast his final major league home run. It would come off of Minnesota’s Jim Deshaies in the third inning, and was the only run scored by the Sox in a 6-1 loss. Fisk would be released by the Sox in June.


1994
In the annual “Crosstown Classic” charity game between the White Sox and Cubs, Michael Jordan wrote his name into Sox lore. His double in the late innings tied the game and prevented the Sox from losing for the first time in this series. The game would end in a tie. The Sox would go 10-0-2 in the Crosstown Classic series (1985-95, with two games played in 1995).

 

 

 

Today in White Sox History: March 18

Steal of a deal: A best-buy in 1964, Don Mossi made the White Sox bullpen unbeatable. (Chicago White Sox)


1964
The White Sox purchased the contract of veteran pitcher Don Mossi from the Tigers for $20,000. Mossi would have a spectacular season for the club that lost the pennant by one game, going 3-1 with seven saves and an ERA of 2.92. He’d team up with Hoyt Wilhelm and Eddie Fisher to give the club the best bullpen in the league.


1981
Carlton Fisk signed a free agent deal with the White Sox, beginning the process of turning a laughable organization into a real, legitimate major league franchise. The All-Star catcher and future Hall-of-Famer got his free agency after the Red Sox did not tender him a contract by the required date. Immediately, Sox co-owner Eddie Einhorn and GM Roland Hemond jumped at the chance to get a player of Fisk’s caliber on to the team. Fisk would play 13 years on the South Side, make four All-Star teams, and have his No. 72 retired in 1997. He retired with the team record for most home runs, as well as most home runs in MLB history hit by a catcher.

 

 

 

 

Five White Sox are elected to the South Side Hit Pen Hall of Fame!

Dynamic duo: Former teammates Harold Baines and Carlton Fisk led five players into our White Sox Hall of Fame. (Topps)


In a phenomenal show of support and cohesion, a record five players were elected to the South Side Hit Pen White Sox Hall of Fame for 2020.

With more than 1,000 votes cast Joe Jackson (81%), Paul Konerko (79%), Carlton Fisk (79%), Harold Baines (78%) and Ed Walsh (75%) all crossed the bar for induction. Walsh, almost unquestionably the greatest pitcher in White Sox history, gains entry thanks to a rounding up of his 74.528% earned in his third year on the ballot.

Player Position Percentage
Joe Jackson Left Fielder 81%
Carlton Fisk Catcher 79%
Paul Konerko First Baseman 79%
Harold Baines Right Fielder 78%
Ed Walsh Right-Handed Starting Pitcher 75%
Ted Lyons Right-Handed Starting Pitcher 62%
Wilbur Wood Right-Handed Pitcher 56%
Robin Ventura Third Baseman 51%
Red Faber Right-Handed Starting Pitcher 42%
Chris Sale Left-Handed Pitcher 39%
Eddie Cicotte Right-Handed Starting Pitcher 37%
Hoyt Wilhelm Right-Handed Relief Pitcher 34%
Ray Schalk Catcher 24%
Sherm Lollar Catcher 21%
Jack McDowell Right-Handed Starting Pitcher 21%
Magglio Ordoñez Right Fielder 20%
Gary Peters Left-Handed Starting Pitcher 18%
Fielder Jones Center Fielder 12%
Tommy John Left-Handed Starting Pitcher 12%
Chet Lemon Center Fielder 11%
Joe Horlen Right-Handed Starting Pitcher 9%
Doc White Left-Handed Starting Pitcher 7%
George Davis Shortstop 7%
Ray Durham Second Baseman 6%
Alexei Ramírez Shortstop 5%
Lance Johnson Center Fielder 4%
Johnny Mostil Center Fielder 3%
José Quintana Left-Handed Starting Pitcher 2%
Matt Thornton Left-Handed Relief Pitcher 1%
Terry Forster Left-Handed Pitcher 1%

By virtue of everyone on the ballot getting at least one vote, nobody drops off for that reason next season. In 2021, five new players will enter the ballot, including José Abreu.

Here are the results of the other elections within the third annual Hall of Fame vote:




Pat Seerey has done very poorly in his two stints in the “moment” vote — and is so disrespected that the amateur White Sox historian who compiles these Hall of Fame articles couldn’t even spell his name right on the ballot (OK, so it might have been like 4 a.m.) — so it might be time to remove him from future voting.







Next year, we’ll have another full slate of players eligible for enshrinement, plus these additional categories. Some of the above will sit a year out in an every-other frequency, and perhaps we’ll even invented a new category or two (suggestions are welcome in the comments, as always).

Thanks to all who participated — you’re the ones who make this all a lot of fun! And stay tuned, because at long last our first South Side Hit Pen White Sox Hall of Fame “plaque” will be published on these pages. We’ll continue to unveil our “plaques” to all winners, throughout the year.


2018 White Sox Hall of Fame winners
Frank Thomas (Hall of Fame Player)
Minnie Miñoso (Hall of Fame Player)
Luis Aparicio (Hall of Fame Player)
Nellie Fox (Hall of Fame Player)
Luke Appling (Hall of Fame Player)
2005 (Season)
Bill Veeck (Contributor)
Exploding Scoreboard (Gimmick)
Disco Demolition (Promotion)
1991 (Uniform)
Ozzie Guillén (Manager)
2005 World Series Sweep (Moment)

2019 White Sox Hall of Fame winners
Mark Buehrle (Hall of Fame Player)
Billy Pierce (Hall of Fame Player)
Eddie Collins (Hall of Fame Player)
1917 (Season)
Nancy Faust (Contributor)
Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye) (Gimmick/Promotion)
Four Straight ALCS Complete Games (2005 Moment)
Mark Buehrle Between-the-Legs (Defensive Play)
Dick Allen (Meteoric Player)
Ozzie Guillén (Character)
Jim Margalus (South Side Sox Member)

 

It’s time for the third annual White Sox Hall of Fame vote!

The Terminator: Ed Walsh was a badass on the mound. Perhaps his the third time’s the charm for him and the White Sox Hall of Fame. (Wikipedia)


Once upon a time, the Chicago White Sox had a team Hall of Fame — until they decided to put it in mothballs, in favor of an extended gift shop. Now the Sox have a two-story team store, and they have yet to bring the team Hall of Fame back.

We’re tired of waiting, so we’ve established a virtual one. First at South Side Sox, now here at South Side Hit Pen.

Voting is similar to our regular Hall of Fame vote: You are able to choose a maximum of 10 guys from this year’s ballot of 30 nominees. A player will need 75% of the vote to gain enshrinement. If a player receives zero votes (as happened to two players last year), they will be booted off of the ballot for five years.

As an added bonus, there are some fun categories on the ballot, so don’t stop after the player vote!

In 2018, with our inaugural White Sox Hall vote, we enshrined five players: Frank Thomas, Minnie Miñoso, Luis Aparicio, Nellie Fox and Luke Appling. Players need 75% of votes to gain induction, so near-misses included Mark Buehrle (66.7%), Joe Jackson (63.3%), and Paul Konerko (61.4%).

The second year of voting in 2019 landed Buehrle (82.5%), Billy Pierce (75.8%) and Eddie Collins (75.4%) into the Hall, with Ed Walsh’s 68.3% getting him closer to entry.

In 2018, we also enshrined 2005 (Season), Bill Veeck (Contributor), Exploding Scoreboard (Gimmick), Disco Demolition (Promotion), 1991 (Uniform), Ozzie Guillén (Manager), and 2005 World Series Sweep (Moment). In 2019, the extra categories winners included 1917 (Season), Nancy Faust (Contributor), Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye) (Gimmick/Promotion), four straight ALCS complete games (2005 Moment), Mark Buehrle between-the-legs (Defensive Play), Dick Allen (Meteoric Player), Ozzie Guillén (Character) and Jim Margalus (South Side Sox member).

A reminder that the dear departed KenWo wrote the intro and all of the player bios for our inaugural ballot, so the bios Ken wrote that are reprinted for this ballot carry a “— KW” designation, and I’d like to give him a high five for his fun intro here and anything else that has carried over from his hard work in putting together our inaugural ballot in 2018.

You have until February 10 to fill out your ballot, as the 2020 White Sox Hall of Fame class will be announced on February 11.

At the bottom of each category is your ballot, so there’s no off-site voting like in past years. We begin with another 30-player ballot, including five new additions.

Sitaspell, take yer shoes off, and ponder.

Note: aWAR averages Baseball-Reference (bWAR), FanGraphs (fWAR) and Baseball Prospectus (WARP) WAR measures, when available. aaWAR adjusts aWAR to account for lost time due to work stoppage, military service, or institutional racism. Each WAR listed is for White Sox play only.


Players

Harold Baines
Right Fielder/Designated Hitter
(1980-89, 1996-97, 2000-01)
bWAR: 24.7
fWAR: N/A
WARP: 23.0
aWAR: 23.9
aaWAR: 25.0

Last year’s SSS vote: 54%
Core Stats: .288/.346/.463, 1,773 hits, 221 HR, 981 RBI, 118 OPS+

The White Sox made Baines the No. 1 overall pick in the 1977 draft, and he didn’t disappoint, along with Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez and Chipper Jones becoming one of the most successful No. 1 picks of all time. Baines knocked in the winning run to clinch the AL West in 1983, ended the longest game in major league history with a walk-off homer in the 25th inning in 1984, and was a constant force in the Sox lineup throughout the lean years of the late 1980s. After being traded to Texas for Sammy Sosa and Wilson Alvarez, Harold had his No. 3 retired when the Rangers returned to Chicago in 1989. Harold would come back to the White Sox in 1996. After being dealt in the White Flag trades of 1997, Baines was again brought back in 2000. He is among the Top 10 all-time in nearly every White Sox offensive category, including runs (eighth), hits (sixth), doubles (fifth), homers (third) and RBI (fourth). His statue sits on the right field concourse. And in 2019, Baines was named to the Baseball Hall of Fame. — KW


Eddie Cicotte
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
(1912-20)
bWAR: 49.5
fWAR: N/A
WARP: N/A
aWAR: 49.5
aaWAR: 51.5
Last year’s SSS vote: 43%

Core Stats: 156-101, 183 CG, 28 SHO, 21 SV, 2.25 ERA/2.48 FIP, 1.11 WHIP, 133 ERA+

Perhaps most famous for being one of the Eight Men Out, Cicotte had a fantastic nine-year run with the Pale Hose. He came to the White Sox early in the 1912 season, after pitching for the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox early in his career. He went 18-11 with a 1.58 ERA in his first full season on the South Side. Cicotte really dialed it up for the World Series-winning 1917 White Sox, when he led the league with 28 wins, a 1.53 ERA and 346 ⅔ innings. After a down 1918 (along with the rest of the White Sox), Cicotte went 29-7 with a 1.82 ERA in 306 ⅔ innings for the 1919 White Sox. In that postseason, he went 1-2 in his three starts, with two complete games and an ERA of 2.91. The knuckleballer went 21-10 in 1920, before admitting to his role in the fix and being banned for life. — KW


George Davis
Shortstop
(1902, 1904-09)
bWAR: 33.0
fWAR: 32.0
WARP: N/A
aWAR: 32.5
Last year’s SSS vote: 11%
Core Stats: .259/.333/.332, 6 HR, 377 RBI, 162 SB, 109 OPS+

Davis signed with the White Sox in 1902, after a long tenure with the New York Giants, where he was a star hitter. In 1900, he was named manager of the Giants, while he still was a force with the bat. However, the Giants record under his tenure was awful, and Davis ignored the reserve clause to sign a deal with the White Sox in the relatively new American League. In that first season, Davis hit .299/.386/.402 with 34 extra base hits and 93 RBI — in the dead-ball era. After the season, Davis signed a two-year deal to return to the Giants. This angered White Sox owner Charles Comiskey, who filed injunctions that Davis could not play for any team other than the White Sox. The National League owners instructed the Giants to give up Davis’ rights, and the shortstop only appeared in four games for New York in 1903. In 1904, he was back with the Sox, providing good offense for the era, and threw the leather as a great shortstop, en route to a 7.2 WAR season. He matched that output in 1905, and was the best hitter on the “Hitless Wonders” of 1906 who upset the Chicago Cubs in the World Series. Davis hit .308 with three doubles, leading the Sox to their first championship. After that season, age and injuries slowed Davis. His career would end following the 1909 season, when he hit .132 in 28 games. Davis was elected to the Hall of Fame 89 years later, in 1998. — KW


Ray Durham
Second Baseman
(1995-2002)
bWAR: 21.4
fWAR: N/A
WARP: 16.5
aWAR: 19.0
aaWAR: 18.9

First year on the White Sox Hall of Fame ballot
Core Stats: .278/.352/.428, 1,246 H, 106 HR, 484 RBI, 219 SB, 102 OPS+

Durham was a steady influence on some perennially-disappointing 1990s White Sox teams, finally breaking through in the postseason in 2000, when he put up a .985 OPS as one of the few South Side hitters who didn’t wilt vs. the Mariners. He finished sixth in Rookie of the Year voting in 1995 despite putting up a statistically disappointing season, but would go on to make All-Star teams in 1998 and 2000. Durham’s 5.5 offensive WAR in 1998 ranked ninth in the AL, and he led the league in double plays in both 1998 and 2000. Durham’s closest player comps during his White Sox years were Bobby Grich and Joe Morgan, and a second baseman can’t find better company than that. Apparently Willie Harris and D’Angelo Jiménez waiting in the wings prompted the White Sox to dump Durham and some cash on the Oakland A’s at the trade deadline in 2002 for Jon Adkins. He’d go on to be a very productive player for four more seasons, so that’s a trade fail for Ken Williams.


Red Faber
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
(1914-33)
bWAR: 63.9
fWAR: 52.2
WARP: N/A
aWAR: 58.1
aaWAR: 58.4

Last year’s SSS vote: 49%
Core Stats: 254-213, 273 CG, 29 SHO, 27 SV, 3.15 ERA/3.43 FIP, 1.30 WHIP, 119 ERA+

Urban “Red” Faber spent his entire 20-year career with the White Sox. He won 20-plus games four times. He threw the spitball, which he learned in the minor leagues after he hurt his arm in a longest-throw contest in 1911. Faber went 10-9 in his rookie year, and then improved to 24-14 in 1915. In 1917, Faber went 16-13 with a 1.92 ERA for the champion White Sox. He won games two, five and six (the series clincher) in the 1917 World Series. After war duty cut his 1918 short, Faber’s 1919 season was a struggle due to illness and injury. The righthander only pitched once over the final month of the season, and didn’t appear in the 1919 World Series. His best three seasons were still to come, as from 1920-22 Faber won 69 games and led the league in ERA and complete games twice. At 34 years old, Faber fell to 14-11 in 1923, but managed to pitch for 10 more seasons, going 89-102 during that time. In 1964, Faber was elected to the Hall of Fame as a member of the White Sox. — KW


Carlton Fisk
Catcher
(1981-93)
bWAR: 28.9
fWAR: 29.9
WARP: 36.9
aWAR: 31.9
aaWAR: 33.2

Last year’s SSS vote: 58%
Core Stats: .257/.329/.438, 214 HR, 762 RBI, 1,259 hits, 109 OPS+

The Commander was brought in for the 1981 season, as Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn wanted to make a splash as the new owners of the team. Fisk was an All-Star in his first two seasons, and then in 1983 had his best season on the South Side. Pudge led the White Sox pitching staff to a dominant second half and also had a fantastic season with the bat, hitting .289/.355/.518 with 26 dingers as the White Sox made the playoffs for the first time since 1959. In 1985, at age 37, Fisk slugged a career-high 37 homers and knocked in 107 runs. In 1990, at the age of 42, Fisk had another great season, hitting .285/.378/.451 as the White Sox rose from their late-80s ashes to win 94 games and finish second to the Oakland A’s in the AL West. Fisk was an All-Star again in 1991, at age 43, when he hit 18 homers and knocked in 74. Fisk’s last game came on June 22, 1993, which was also Carlton Fisk Day at the ballpark. He became the leader in games caught that day, and was cut from the team a few days later. When he was released, Fisk was the team’s all-time home run leader, and currently ranks fourth, trailing only Frank Thomas, Paul Konerko and Harold Baines. He’s seventh all-time in White Sox RBI. Fisk made the Hall of Fame in 2000 as a member of the Red Sox, although he played more games with the White Sox. Fisk’s No. 72 is retired, and his statue is in center field. — KW


Terry Forster
Left-Handed Pitcher
(1971-76)
bWAR: 12.1
fWAR: 11.5
WARP: 12.8
aWAR: 12.1
aaWAR: 12.2
Last year’s SSS vote: 1%

Core Stats: 26-42, 75 SV, 3.36 ERA/2.84 FIP, 1.37 WHIP, 111 ERA+

Forster came up with the Sox in 1971, at the age of 19. The next season, Forster threw 100 innings, all out of the pen, and saved 29 games, with a 2.25 ERA and 104 strikeouts in a 3.2 bWAR season. He started 12 games in 1973, going 6-11 with 16 saves and a 3.23 ERA over 172 ⅔ innings. In 1974, Forster led the league in saves with 24 and threw another 134 innings, with one start. The workload caught up to Forster in 1975, as he only managed 37 innings, but he was still effective (2.19 ERA). The Sox tried starting him again in 1976, as he made 16 starts and went 2-12 with a 4.37 ERA. With Forster’s free agency looming, White Sox owner BIll Veeck swapped Forster and Goose Gossage after the season to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Richie Zisk, fueling the 1977 South Side Hit Men. Forster would go on to pitch through 1986, but would never again reach the levels as he did in the early 70’s with the Sox. — KW


Joe Horlen
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
(1961-71)
bWAR: 25.3
fWAR: 25.3
WARP: 28.4
aWAR: 26.3
Last year’s SSS vote: 9%
Core Stats: 113-113, 59 CG, 18 SHO, 3.11 ERA/3.35 FIP, 1.19 WHIP, 110 ERA+

You can call him Joe, or you can call him Joel, but you doesn’t have to call him Johnson. An All-America Second Teamer out of Oklahoma State, Horlen was signed by the White Sox in their magical year of 1959. The native Texan would hit the majors two years later, and pitch on the South Side for a decade. By 1964, he would enter the White Sox’s starting rotation for good, finishing the year second AL ERA (1.88) and whiffs (138), led in WHIP (0.935), and was the best in the majors in H/9, with 6.07. He was murder on the AL after that, regularly posting amazing ERAs. By 1967, Horlen went 19-7 and led the AL in ERA (2.06), shutouts (six) and WHIP (.953), and made the All-Star team for his first and only time. On September 10, in the heat of a furious pennant race, Horlen no-hit the Detroit Tigers at Comiskey Park. (It would be 40 years before another White Sox pitcher, Mark Buehrle, would throw a no-hitter in Chicago.) Horlen finished second in Cy Young and fourth in MVP voting in 1967. After that, as the White Sox stumbled toward the 1970s, Horlen’s performances diminished, but the ultimate insult came in 1972, when Horlen (the team’s union rep) was waived after leading a unanimous vote to strike. Horlen caught on with the Oakland A’s, and relieved for them on their way to a first World Series title — making him the only player in history to win a Pony League World Series (1952), College World Series (1959) and MLB World Series (1972) ring.


Joe Jackson
Left Fielder
(1915-20)
bWAR: 27.8
fWAR: N/A
WARP: N/A
aWAR: 27.8
aaWAR: 28.4

Last year’s SSS vote: 52%
Core Stats: .340/.407/.499, 30 HR, 433 RBI, 251 BB, 87 K, 159 OPS+

Jackson came to the White Sox from Cleveland midway through the 1915 season, in the most expensive transaction ever at the time: $65,500 in cash and players. Jackson only hit .272 in 45 games after the trade, but in 1916 her erupted for .341/.393/.495, with 40 doubles and 21 triples. In 1917, Jackson hit .301 as the Sox won the championship; Jackson hit .304 in the World Series (pay attention, this will come up again in a couple of years). With the World War I going full-force in 1918, Jackson only played in 18 games before taking a job building warships; this angered owner Charles Comiskey and Chicago sportswriters, as they found it cowardly that Jackson didn’t join the armed forces. However, with the war ending, Jackson came back to the White Sox in 1919 and had a great season. He hit .351/.422/.506, as the Sox found themselves back in the World Series again. Jackson worked out a deal with White Sox first baseman Chick Gandil to throw the Series for a reported $20,000. He only saw $5,000 of that money, and it didn’t seem to make an impact anyway, as he hit .375/.394/.563. Under the cloud of the 1919 Series, the 1920 season was Jackson’s best with the White Sox: .382/.444/.589 with 42 doubles, 20 triples, 12 homers and 121 RBI. That would be his final season in baseball, though, as he was banned for life for his part in throwing the 1919 World Series. However, the legend of Shoeless Joe Jackson lives on. — KW


Tommy John
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
(1965-71)
bWAR: 24.0
fWAR: 25.1
WARP: 28.2
aWAR: 25.8
Last year’s SSS vote: 12%
Core Stats: 82-80, 56 CG, 21 SHO, 2.95 ERA/3.20 FIP, 1.22 WHIP, 117 ERA+

It’s uncanny how similar the White Sox careers of John and Horlen are, down to career WAR totals. In one snapshot of how underrated those 1960s White Sox teams were, John was essentially the same pitcher in Chicago in the 1960s as he was with the Dodgers in the 1970s — yet he was a mere one-time All-Star with the White Sox, a multiple All-Star, Cy Young finalist and MVP candidate in L.A. And, of course, there was one huge difference between White Sox John and Dodgers John: A reconstructed ulnar collateral ligament, the success of which attached John’s named to the now-common Tommy John surgery, and extended the southpaw’s career by 14 seasons. His astronomical career WAR makes his lack of serious consideration for Cooperstown one of the bigger injustices in Hall annals. Simply put, John was phenomenal with the White Sox, leading the majors in shutouts for both the 1966 (five) and 1967 (six) seasons. More inadvertently, John’s trade to L.A. in 1971 reaped one of the most meteoric superstars in White Sox history: Dick Allen.


Lance Johnson
Center Fielder
(1988-95)
bWAR: 21.3
fWAR: 17.2
WARP: 13.8
aWAR: 17.4
aaWAR: 18.6

First year on the White Sox Hall of Fame ballot
Core Stats: .286/.325/.373, 1,018 hits, 77 3B, 17 HR, 327 RBI, 226 SB, 92 OPS+

One-Dog was an underrated minor star for the White Sox. Although fans lament the trade of Bobby Bonilla back to the Pittsburgh Pirates for José DeLeon, DeLeon ultimately yielded Johnson, who finished his career with a higher WAR than Bonilla. In his one postseason on the South Side (1993), Johnson produced 0.23 WPA and uncharacteristic muscle: a double, triple and homer in the six games, giving him a .758 OPS for the series. Johnson also provided significant defensive value (think Adam Engel-plus) in center field while often flanked by corner outfielders who desperately benefitted from his prodigious range.


Fielder Jones
Center Fielder
(1901-08)
bWAR: 31.8
fWAR: 32.4
WARP: N/A
aWAR: 32.1
Last year’s SSS vote: 2%
Core Stats: .269/.357/.326, 1,151 hits, 10 HR, 375 RBI, 206 SB, 112 OPS+

Jones came to the White Sox for their inaugural 1901 season. He hated the reserve clause that kept players tied to the same team, so when the American League declared itself a major league for 1901 and said it would ignore the reserve clause, Jones jumped on board. The White Sox won the American League championship that season (there was no World Series until 1903, and not one on a yearly basis until 1905). Jones wanted to go back to New York, but was not allowed to leave the South Side (selective attention to the reserve clause, eh?). Knowing that Jones would want to jump back at any time, owner Charles Comiskey made Jones his player/manager. This suited Jones, who went on to manage the White Sox to their first World Series victory, over the Chicago Cubs in 1906. Jones was a very good center fielder and above-average hitter. From 1901-08, Jones was worth between 3.1 and 4.9 bWAR every year, and was also considered one of the best managers in baseball. Jones left the White Sox after the 1908 season because his contract demands of an ownership stake in the club were not met; he turned down a blank-check offer to return. Jones would reappear six years later, at the age of 42, as a player/manager for the St. Louis Terriers of the upstart Federal League. — KW


Paul Konerko
First Baseman
(1999-2014)
bWAR: 29.8
fWAR: N/A
WARP: 33.2
aWAR: 31.1
Last year’s SSS vote: 52%
Core Stats: .281/.356/.491, 432 HR, 1,383 RBI, 2,292 hits, 120 OPS+

Konerko came to the White Sox from the Cincinnati Reds in 1999, in exchange for Mike Cameron. After unproductive cups of coffee with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds, Konerko would become a fixture in the White Sox lineup for more than a decade. He hit .294/.352/.511 in his first season in Chicago, and never played in fewer than 137 games until his final two seasons. Over that span, Konerko amassed some of the loftiest stats in team history, was the (unofficial) captain of the franchise’s first World Series championship in 88 years, made six All-Star appearances, and has a statue and jersey retirement. Konerko ranks in the top five in White Sox history in games, at-bats, hits, runs, doubles, home runs and RBI in. He also has a “16,000 square foot home”* in Scottsdale. — KW

* Hawkism; Ken Harrelson may or may not have been 10,000 square feet off in his estimate.


Chet Lemon
Center Fielder
(1975-81)
bWAR: 24.9
fWAR: 22.7
WARP: 21.4
aWAR: 23.0
aaWAR: 25.0

Last year’s SSS vote: 13%
Core Stats: .288/.363/.451, 73 HR, 348 RBI, 804 hits, 126 OPS+

Arguably the best center fielder in White Sox history, Lemon came to the White Sox in 1975 from the Oakland Athletics, in exchange for pitcher Stan Bahnsen. Lemon, who had played the infield (poorly) with the A’s throughout his minor league career, was quickly moved to center field by White Sox manager Chuck Tanner. In 1976, Lemon’s first full season in the bigs, the 21-year-old struggled to an OPS of .626. However, in 1977 Lemon came around. He hit .273 with 38 doubles and 19 homers for the South Side Hit Men. In 1978, Lemon would become an All-Star for the first time, and hit .300. In 1979, Lemon had his best year on the South Side, slashing .318/.391/.496 and adding a league-leading 44 doubles in a 5.8 bWAR season. Lemon’s power dropped off a little bit in 1980, but his average and OBP did not as he hit .292/.388/.442. He hit .302 in the strike-shortened 1981 season, which would be his last on the South Side. With Carlton Fisk pre-empting him as the Chisox’s top-salaried player, Lemon planned to become a free agent after 1982. Rather than lose Lemon for no return, new owners Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn shipped him to the Detroit Tigers for Steve Kemp. A certain future South Side Sox managing editor’s heart was broken into a million billion pieces on that day. — KW


Sherm Lollar
Catcher
(1952-63)
bWAR: 26.1
fWAR: 32.2
WARP: 32.8
aWAR: 30.4
Last year’s SSS vote: 7%
Core Stats: .265/.358/.402, 124 HR, 631 RBI, 1,122 hits, 106 OPS+

Sherm “The Tank” Lollar was a six-time All-Star catcher with White Sox, and backstopped the 1959 Go-Go Sox. Lollar made stops with Cleveland, the New York Yankees and St. Louis Browns before joining the White Sox, but it was with the White Sox that Lollar found a home; he would play in Chicago for the next 12 campaigns, catching the glory days of the 50’s and early 60’s. Always a good defensive catcher, Lollar really broke out with the bat in 1956, when he hit .293/.383/.438, with 11 homers and 75 RBI. In 1958, Lollar drilled 20 dingers for the Sox and followed that up with 22 for the American League champions in 1959. He finished ninth in MVP voting in both 1958 and 1959. Lollar hit only .226 in the 1959 World Series, but his one home run tied Game 4 at four in the seventh inning. The Sox would unfortunately go on to lose that game, and later the Series. Lollar’s power fell off in the ’60s, and the White Sox released him in 1963, bringing his career to an end. Lollar’s 124 home runs currently are tied for 16th in team history, just ahead of another star White Sox catcher, A.J. Pierzynski, who had 118. — KW


Ted Lyons
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
(1923-46)
bWAR: 67.6
fWAR: 64.5
WARP: N/A
aWAR: 62.8
Last year’s SSS vote: 57%
Core Stats: 260-230, 356 CG, 27 SHO, 25 SV, 3.67 ERA/4.01 FIP, 1.35 WHIP, 118 ERA+

Lyons played his entire 21-year-career with the White Sox. In 1925, his second full season as a starter, Lyons collected 21 wins, which led the league. Two years later, he led the league with 22 wins, 30 complete games and 307 ⅔ innings. In 1930, he won 22 games, with 29 complete games and 297 ⅔ innings. The heavy workload began to take a toll on Lyons, as he went 35-55 with a 4.13 ERA from 1931-34. However, manager Jimmy Dykes developed a plan for Lyons, in which he would pitch only on Sunday; Lyons would go 99-73 with a 3.44 ERA in nine seasons after that. Lyons led the league in ERA in 1942 with a 2.10 mark. He went 14-6 in his 20 starts, all of them complete games — as a 41 year-old! He then took the next three years off, joining the armed forces during World War II. He came back to the Sox in 1946, where at age 45 he went 1-4 with a 2.32 ERA in five complete games. He took over in May as the manager, ending his pitching career. He finished his career 30 games better than .500, even though he played his entire career in the shadows of the Black Sox scandal. The White Sox never finished higher than third, and rarely were above fifth, in his seasons on the South Side. Even still, Lyons went on to win the most games in White Sox history. He also holds the team record for games started and innings pitched. In 1955, he was voted into the Hall of Fame as a White Sox, and in 1987 his No. 16 was retired by the team. — KW


Jack McDowell
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
(1987-94)
bWAR: 21.6
fWAR: 25.1
WARP: 26.0
aWAR: 24.2
aaWAR: 26

Last year’s SSS vote: 16%
Core Stats: 91-59, 49 CG, 10 SHO, 3.50 ERA/3.55 FIP, 1.25 WHIP, 117 ERA+

McDowell was the unquestioned badass of the 1990s White Sox renaissance; on a team featuring future Hall-of-Famers Carlton Fisk and Frank Thomas, no one bulldogged it better than Black Jack. He was an All-Star and Top 10 Cy Young finisher for three straight seasons (1991-93), receiving MVP votes in 1992 and 1993. He won the Cy Young in 1993. The lockout that ended the 1994 season rather tragically for White Sox fans also started the decline of McDowell’s career – although a heavy workload (his fewest innings pitched from 1991-93 was 253 ⅔) likely contributed plenty, as well. McDowell was traded to the Yankees in 1995 and had one strong season in the Bronx, but is best known for flipping off the Yankee Stadium boo birds in 1996; a longtime musician (V.I.E.W, Stickfigure), McDowell’s fellow musicians/friends in The Baseball Project wrote a song (“Yankee Flipper”) in homage to his act of heroism. In retirement, McDowell has proven both an adept broadcaster and successful coach.


Johnny Mostil
Center Fielder
(1918-29)
bWAR: 24.2
fWAR: 22.9
WARP: N/A
aWAR: 23.6
Last year’s SSS vote: 2%
Core Stats: .301/.386/.427, 82 3B, 375 RBI, 1,054 hits, 176 SB, 113 OPS+

Mostil is on the short list of most unheralded players in White Sox history, as well as the most tragic. As well outlined by a terrific SSS piece from the past, Mostil snuck into Comiskey Park to see games as a child, grew up to become a rare White Sox superstar in the shadow of the Black Sox. He peaked around age 30, leading the league in steals in 1925 and 1926, and finishing seventh and second in the AL MVP voting in those two seasons. But 1926, and his amazing 133 OPS+ season, would be Mostil’s last effective one. It wasn’t a rapid decline in skills, but a brutal suicide attempt in 1927 that derailed Mostil’s career; he did come back, playing a full, but far less effective 1928 season. But before his 33rd birthday, Mostil’s career was over. There is a happy enough ending to Mostil’s story; after his playing career, he scouted for the White Sox and managed in the minor leagues, living to age 74.


Magglio Ordóñez
Right Fielder
(1997-2004)
bWAR: 25.2
fWAR: 22.7
WARP: 20.8
aWAR: 22.9
Last year’s SSS vote: 9%
Core Stats: .307/.364/.525, 187 HR, 703 RBI, 1,167 hits, 127 OPS+

The lone bright spot toward the end of the 1997 season was when the 23-year-old Ordóñez joined the White Sox in August. Magglio would have a heck of a month, hitting .319 with a .918 OPS, to show that he was ready to play every day. Ordóñez would have a good rookie season in 1998, but really started to shine in ’99. Maggs would hit .301 with 30 homers and 117 knocked in, as he became the poster boy for the “kids can play” campaign. In 2000, the White Sox won the AL Central largely behind Ordóñez’s .315 average, 32 homers and 126 knocked in. Magglio’s biggest year came in 2002, when he hit .320/.381/.597 with 47 doubles, 38 homers and 135 RBIs. He had another big year in 2003, hitting .317 with 29 and 99. In 2004, Ordóñez’s season came to an end after 52 games when he suffered a serious knee injury. He would then leave for Detroit as a free agent that offseason, and the White Sox would go on to win the World Series without him in 2005. Despite a relatively short tenure in Chicago, Ordóñez is fifth in home runs, ninth in RBIs, third in slugging percentage, fifth in OPS and ninth in batting average among White Sox. His 86 extra base hits in 2002 are third-most all-time in team history, and his 78 in 2003 are fifth. And my daughter is named Maggie for a reason. — KW


Gary Peters
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
(1959-69)
bWAR: 25.9
fWAR: 31.3
WARP: 26.1
aWAR: 27.8
First year on the White Sox Hall of Fame ballot
Core Stats: 91-78, 60 CG, 18 SHO, 1,098 K, 2.72 ERA/3.04 FIP, 1.190 WHIP, 115 ERA+

Peters made his hay on the mid-1960s White Sox juggernauts, but his history with the team extended back to the Go-Go 1959 club, for which he made his major league debut with one inning pitched in two games. Continuing to struggle to break onto Chicago’s loaded roster over the next three seasons, Peters was still a rookie in his fifth MLB campaign (1963), when he broke through to go 19-8 with a league-leading 2.33 ERA, 2.34 FIP and 150 ERA+, winning the Rookie of the Year. He also finished eighth in MVP voting in 1963, seventh in 1964, and ninth in 1967, while strangely never garnering Cy Young consideration. Peters was a two-time All-Star, twice leading the AL in ERA and ERA+.


José Quintana
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
(2012-17)
bWAR: 21.0
fWAR: N/A
WARP: 12.2
aWAR: 16.6
First year on the White Sox Hall of Fame ballot
Core Stats: 50-54, 890 K, 3.51 ERA/3.53 FIP, 1.250 WHIP, 115 ERA+

The very hardest of hard-luck stories, Quintana’s career on the South Side was marred by chronically low run support. He “shattered” his career mark for season wins with 13 (against 12 losses, natch) in 2016, Q’s last full season with the White Sox. He was named to his first and only All-Star team that season, finishing 10th in Cy Young voting. That season bolstered his trade value as the club moved toward a rebuild, and at the 2017 trade deadline he netted both Eloy Jiménez and Dylan Cease in a trade that may surpass George Bell-for-Sammy Sosa in lopsided crosstown swap annals.


Alexei Ramírez
Shortstop
(2008-15)
bWAR: 23.0
fWAR: 19.6
WARP: 21.3
aWAR: 21.3
First year on the White Sox Hall of Fame ballot
Core Stats: .270/.310/.399, 1,272 H, 109 HR, 590 RBI, 143 SB, 89 OPS+

The first bonus baby of the White Sox’s 21st Century run on Cuban stars, Ramírez made an instant impact on the White Sox, debuting in center field before settling in at second base for a runner-up Rookie of the Year campaign in 2008. Moving to shortstop and improving each year, Ramírez won Silver Sluggers in 2010 and 2014, was the Wilson Defensive SS of the Year in 2012 and was an All-Star in 2014. His penchant for dramatic hits — and dramatic reactions to getting hit on the field — remain legendary.


Chris Sale
Left-Handed Pitcher
(2010-16)
bWAR: 30.2
fWAR: 27.6
WARP: 30.0
aWAR: 29.3
Last year’s SSS vote: 18%
Core Stats: 74-50, 15 CG, 12 SV, 1,244 K, 3.00 ERA/3.06 FIP, 1.07 WHIP, 135 ERA+

Sale was drafted by the White Sox in 2010, and after throwing 10 ⅓ minor league innings found himself in Chicago later that season. Sale pitched impressively out of the bullpen in his first two campaigns before making the jump to the rotation in 2012. Sale started a streak of All-Star appearances that year that is still continuing. He went 17-8 with a 3.05 ERA in 2012, and in 2013 went 11-14 with a 3.07 ERA on a terrible club. In 2014, Sale was 12-4 with a 2.17 ERA. In 2015, Sale led the league in strikeouts (setting a White Sox record with 274), as he went 13-11. Chris was 17-10 with a 3.34 ERA in 2016, his final season with the White Sox. Sale finished in the top six in Cy Young voting every season he pitched as a starter. The White Sox however, never made the playoffs with Sale, and they traded him to Boston in 2017. Sale is sixth in White Sox history with 1,244 strikeouts, and his combined career in Chicago and Boston places him as the all-time MLB leader in K/9 (10.9) and K/SO (5.31).


Ray Schalk
Catcher
(1912-28)
bWAR: 33.3
fWAR: 22.4
WARP: N/A
aWAR: 27.9
aaWAR: 28.3

Last year’s SSS vote: 21%
Core Stats: .254/.340/.316, 1,345 hits, 11 HR, 593 RBI, 177 SB, 83 OPS+

Schalk made his debut at 19, in 1912. He’d go on to man the backstop on the South Side for 17 seasons. From 1913 to 1926, Schalk caught about 80% of the Sox contests. He was the catcher for the 1917 World Champions, and also the 1919 Black Sox (Schalk hit .304 in the 1919 World Series). Ed Walsh, Eddie Cicotte, Red Faber and Ted Lyons all had one thing in common: Schalk behind the plate. Schalk’s best year with the bat came in 1922, when he hit .281/.379/.371 with four home runs, 60 RBIs and 12 stolen bases. Schalk started to wind down his playing days when he took over as White Sox manager in 1927. He was fired partway through 1928, and went on to join the New York Giants coaching staff in 1929. Schalk ranks fifth in games, ninth in at-bats, 10th in hits, 13th in RBIs, eighth in walks and ninth in steals all-time for his White Sox career. Schalk was elected to the Hall of Fame as a White Sox in 1955. — KW

(For more information on Schalk, refer back to katiesphil’s terrific piece from 2018.)


Matt Thornton
Left-Handed Relief Pitcher
(2006-13)
bWAR: 10.8
fWAR: N/A
WARP: 9.3
aWAR: 10.3
Last year’s SSS vote: 1%
Core Stats: 31-35, 23 SV, 3.28 ERA/3.02 FIP, 1.20 WHIP, 137 ERA+

Thornton came to the White Sox in a trade of failed prospects with the Seattle Mariners. The Sox sent Seattle Joe Borchard, who had received the biggest signing bonus in White Sox history, in exchange for Thornton, who threw 100 mph but lacked the control or stamina to make it as a starting pitcher. The Sox put Thornton in the pen, and almost immediately he paid dividends, turning into one of the finest late-inning relievers in baseball. From 2008-10, Thornton went 16-10 with a 2.70 ERA and struck out 245 batters in 200 ⅓ innings, with a WHIP of 1.028. The run of dominance included an All-Star berth in 2010. Thornton slowed down a little bit in his last two-and-a-half years on the South Side, but was still plenty effective. He was traded to the Red Sox in 2013. Thornton’s 512 appearances rank fourth in team history, and his 137 ERA+ bests even Chris Sale’s. — KW


Robin Ventura
Third Baseman
(1989-98)
bWAR: 39.4
fWAR: 39.2
WARP: 30.4
aWAR: 36.3
aaWAR: 38.1

Last year’s SSS vote: 49%
Core Stats: .274/.365/.440, 171 HR, 741 RBI, 1,244 hits, 117 OPS+

Rockin’ Robin was drafted by the White Sox in the first round in 1988 out of Oklahoma State, and by late 1989 was in the big leagues to stay. Ventura played 150 games in 1990, and it was a struggle with the bat. However, when New Comiskey Park opened in 1991, Ventura found his legs, hitting .284/.367/.442 with 23 homers and 100 RBI that year and won his first of six Gold Gloves. He made his only appearance in the All-Star game in 1992. In 1995, Ventura hit .295 with 26 homers and in 1996, hit .287 with 34 home runs and 105 RBI. After a terrifying ankle injury in spring training 1997 limited him to only 54 games, Ventura returned for one last year on the South Side in 1998, when he hit 21 homers and knocked in 91. He joined the New York Mets in free agency in 1999, bringing to end a great era of Batman (Frank Thomas) and Robin. It is rumored he went on to manage the White Sox. — KW


Ed Walsh
Right-Handed Pitcher
(1904-16)
bWAR: 64.0
fWAR: 51.3
WARP: N/A
aWAR: 57.7
Last year’s SSS vote: 68%
Core Stats: 195-125, 249 CG, 57 SHO, 35 SV, 1,736 K, 1.81 ERA/2.02 FIP, 1.00 WHIP, 146 ERA+

Big Ed Walsh is the all-time career leader in ERA and FIP. Not for the White Sox, but in all of baseball history. He started his career with the White Sox in 1904, and in 1906 he got his first crack as a regular in the South Side rotation. Walsh did not disappoint, as he went 17-13 with a 1.88 ERA for the Hitless Wonders. Even better, he was 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA over 15 innings in the 1906 World Series against the hated Chicago Cubs, as the Sox went on to win the crosstown series. From there, things got ridiculous. Walsh went 24-18 with a 1.60 ERA over 422 ⅓ innings (!) in 1907. In 1908, Wash became the last pitcher to win 40 games in a season, going 40-15 with a 1.42 ERA over a record (at least for people that played after 1900) 464 innings pitched. The next year was a “down” year for Big Ed, when he went 15-11 with a 1.41 ERA in “only” 230 ⅓ innings. In 1910, Walsh had an 18-20 record even though his ERA was 1.27. Walsh went 27-18 in 1911, with a 2.22 ERA over 368 ⅔ innings. The 1912 season was the last big year for Walsh, as he won another 27 games with a 2.15 ERA, including 32 complete games and six shutouts, over 393 innings pitched. To top it off, he led the league in saves with 10. From there, Walsh went 13-7 over the next four years as the crazy innings load finally caught up with him. By the time the White Sox were winning another championship in 1917, Walsh was closing out his career throwing 18 innings with the Boston Braves. — KW


Doc White
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
(1903-13)
bWAR: 33.9
fWAR: 25.5
WARP: N/A
aWAR: 29.7
Last year’s SSS vote: 4%
Core Stats: 159-123, 206 CG, 42 SHO, 2.30 ERA/2.49 FIP, 1.11 WHIP, 114 ERA+

White, who was a dentist in the offseason, went straight from Georgetown University to the Phillies in 1901. He pitched two seasons in Philadelphia before the White Sox poached him into the American League. The Phillies offered White a big raise, but before he accepted, the American League and the National League united, and it was ruled that White would stay in Chicago. White would go on to pitch the last 11 seasons of his career for the Sox. In 1903, he won 17 games with a 2.13 ERA over 300 innings pitched. He was 16-12 with a 1.78 ERA in 1904, including a streak where he threw five shutouts in a row — a mark that would stand until Don Drysdale threw six in a row in 1968. The Doc went 17-13 with a 1.76 ERA in 1905. For the World Champions in 1906, White was 18-6, with a league-leading 1.52 ERA. In the World Series, he was 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA over 15 innings as the Sox beat the Cubs to claim their first World Series title. White won a career-high 27 games in 1907, with a 2.26 ERA over 291 innings. White continued to be solid for a couple more seasons before his workload took a toll and his effectiveness tapered off. White’s last season came in 1913, when he threw 103 innings with a 3.50 ERA. — KW


Hoyt Wilhelm
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher
(1963-68)
bWAR: 16.4
fWAR: 8.9
WARP: 11.4
aWAR: 12.2
Last year’s SSS vote: 16%
Core Stats: 41-33, 99 SV, 1.92 ERA/2.51 FIP, 0.94 WHIP, 171 ERA+

Wilhelm came to the White Sox in 1963 at 40, in a heartbreaking trade that sent World Series heroes Luis Aparicio and Al Smith to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Ron Hansen, Dave Nicholson, Pete Ward and Wilhelm. The trade basically marked the end of the Go-Go Sox era of the ’50’s — but fueled the winningest three-season streak (1963-65) in team history. In 1963, the knuckleballer went 5-8 with a 2.64 ERA and 21 saves over 136 ⅓ innings. This was his only White Sox season with an ERA worse than 2.00. In 1964, Wilhelm dazzled opposing hitters, to the tune of a 1.99 ERA over 131 ⅓ innings. In 1965, it was an even better 1.81 ERA over 144 innings of work. Wilhelm never threw 100 innings again, but his ERA continued to fall. In 1966, Wilhelm posted a 1.66 ERA over 81 ⅓ innings. He followed that up with an even more impressive 1.31 ERA over 89 innings in 1967. In 1968, Hoyt had a “down” year, as his ERA rose to 1.73 over 93 ⅔ innings as a 45-year-old. With these great results, Wilhelm was picked by the Kansas City Royals in the 1968 expansion draft, ending most successful relief run in White Sox history. — KW


Wilbur Wood
Left-Handed Pitcher
(1967-78)
bWAR: 52.0
fWAR: 34.5
WARP: 39.9
aWAR: 42.1
aaWAR: 42.5

Last year’s SSS vote: 49%
Core Stats: 163-148, 113 CG, 24 SHO, 57 SV, 3.18 ERA/3.33 FIP, 1.23 WHIP, 116 ERA+

Hoyt Wilhelm had one more trick up his sleeve before he left the White Sox: He taught his dancing knuckleball to Wood, who had struggled to catch on with the Red Sox and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Wood went on to throw possibly the best lefty knuckleball ever. In his first year, Wood went 95 ⅓ innings, with a 2.45 ERA. He followed that up in 1968 with an impressive 1.87 ERA over 159 innings, and a league-leading 88 games. In 1969, Wood went 10-11 with a 3.01 ERA over 76 games, and led the league in appearances for the third year in a row, compiling a 2.81 ERA with 21 saves over 121 ⅔ innings. Then, manager Chuck Tanner decided to change things up and make Wood a starter. The rotund southpaw responded by throwing innings like some of the pitchers profiled from early in the century. In 1971, Wood started 42 games, winning and completing 22 of them, with a ridiculous 1.81 ERA over 334 innings. In 1972, Wood started 49 games, threw 376 2/3 innings and won 24 games, all three figures leading the league. He had a 2.51 ERA that year. He led the league in starts (48), innings (359 1/3) and wins (24) in 1973. He was 20-19 in 1974, and was an All-Star for the third time. He lost 20 games in 1975, with a 4.11 ERA over 291 1/3 innings. He pitched three more years for the White Sox, never putting up the numbers he had previously. He currently ranks in the all-time team Top 10 in wins, games, starts, saves, innings and strikeouts. — KW

[poll id=”16″]


 

Additional Categories

Season

1906: With the fourth-best winning percentage in team history (.616), the 93-58, World Series-winning Hitless Wonders toppled the Cubs in the only all-Chicago Fall Classic.

1959: The 94-60 (.610 winning percentage, tied for seventh-best in team history) Go-Go Sox finally broke past the Yankees juggernaut to win the pennant, but fell in six games to the Dodgers in the World Series.

1964: A relative bunch of no-names finished with 98 wins, one game behind the damn Yankees for the AL pennant. Sandwiched season of the greatest three-season run (1963-65) in team history.

1983: The 99-63 Winning Ugly White Sox were upset in the ALCS by the Orioles.

1993: The 94-68 White Sox lost in the ALCS to the Toronto Blue Jays, and lost a back-to-back shot at the playoffs because of the 1994 lockout.

[poll id=”17″]

Previous winners: 2005 (2018) and 1917 (2019).


Manager

Jimmy Dykes: Managed 13 seasons (1934-46), 899-940 record (most White Sox wins all-time), 34.4 career managerial WAR (1.4 WAR per 162 games)

Clark Griffith: Managed two seasons (1900-01), 157-113 record, 1900 pennant, 5.6 career WAR (3.4/162)

Fielder Jones: Managed five seasons (1904-08), 426-293 record, 1906 World Series, 6.2 career WAR (1.4/162)

Al Lopez: Managed 11 seasons (1957-65, 1968-69), 840-650 record, 1959 pennant, 13.3 career WAR (3.0 WAR/162)

Ted Lyons: Managed three seasons (1946-48), 185-245 record, 5.1 career WAR (1.9/162)

[poll id=”18″]

Previous winner: Ozzie Guillén (2018)


Gimmick/Promotion

Dog Day: If not a White Sox invention, a promotion they first brought to prominence, with “Bark at the Park” a ubiquitous part of the ballpark experience today.

Elvis Night: August tradition at the new ballpark, inspired in part it seems by the Honeymoon in Vegas Flying Elvises.

Outfield Shower: From center field at Comiskey Park to the left field concourse today.

Seventh-Inning Stretch: Nancy Faust and Harry Caray singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”.

Turn Back the Clock: The White Sox started the retro uni trend in 1990, sporting 1917 duds and having lineups introduced through a megaphone as part of the goodbye to Comiskey Park.

[poll id=”19″]

Previous winners: Exploding Scoreboard (2018), Disco Demolition Night (2018), Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye) (2019)


Moment

Oct. 14, 1906: Hitless Wonders upset Cubs to win the World Series

July 18, 1948: Pat Seery becomes the third player in modern MLB history to hit four homers in a game, the fourth winning the game 12-11 over the Philadelphia A’s in the 11th inning

Sept. 22, 1959: Mayor Daley sets off the air raid sirens as the White Sox clinch the pennant

May 9, 1984: Harold Baines hits a home run against the Milwaukee Brewers in the 25th inning, ending the longest game in major league history

Sept. 30, 2008: Jim Thome’s Blackout Game home run in game 163

[poll id=”20″]

Previous winners: 2005 World Series sweep (2018), “The Catch” by Dewayne Wise (2019)


2005 Moment

11-1 Postseason record, tied for best all-time since the playoffs moved to three rounds.

Orlando Hernandez comes on in relief and escapes a bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning of the ALDS Game 3 vs. Boston.

Paul Konerko‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of World Series Game 1.

A.J. Pierzynski steals first base in Game 2 of the ALCS.

Scott Podsednik‘s game-ending World Series homer vs. Houston to win Game 2 of the World Series.

[poll id=”21″]

Previous winner: Four straight CGs in the ALCS (2019)


Defensive Play

Iván Calderon climbs the wall in Tiger Stadium on July 27, 1987 to rob Alan Trammell

Ken Griffey Jr. throwing out the lead run at home, with a ballsy tag by A.J. Pierzynski, in the 2008 Blackout Game

Tadahito Iguchi’s upside-down assist on April 15, 2006

Juan Uribe’s breakneck dive into the stands to bring the White Sox within one out of the 2005 World Series title

Dewayne Wise preserving Buerhle’s perfect game on July 23, 2009

[poll id=”22″]

Previous Winner: Mark Buerhle’s between-the-legs assist (2019)

Meteoric Player

Albert Belle: Two seasons on the South Side, and after a solid debut in 1997 (great counting stats but just 1.5 bWAR), launched into the stratosphere in 1998 (7.1 bWAR, .328/.399/.655, 49 homers, 152 RBIs). His White Sox bWAR represents 21.4% of his career total.

Terry Forster: Forster exploded on the scene at age 20 and stitched together three of the best relief seasons in White Sox history, peaking with 4.6 bWAR as a reliever, in 1971. His White Sox bWAR represents 65.4% of his career total.

Ron Hansen: An unheralded core of the best three-season stretch in White Sox history (1963-65), Hansen peaked at 7.7 bWAR in 1964 and finished in the top 17 of MVP voting in both 1964 and 1965. His White Sox bWAR represents 75.1% of his career total.

Esteban LoaizaOne full season on the South Side (2003), good for 7.2 bWAR, a start in the All-Star Game at Sox Park, runner-up for the Cy Young, 24th in MVP voting. His White Sox bWAR represents 35.2% of his career total.

Tommy Thomas: Even Chris Sale didn’t have as productive a first four White Sox seasons as Thomas, who peaked at 8.5 bWAR in 1927 and led the AL in at least one category in the opening quartet of his career. His White Sox bWAR represents 85.9% of his career total.

[poll id=”23″]

Previous winner: Dick Allen (2019)


Character

Harry Caray: His addled work across town is so frozen in the minds of many fans, it’s easy to forget what a good broadcaster Harry was on the South Side. “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” the home run net, broadcasting from the bleachers, and pointed criticisms were his White Sox hallmarks.

Steve Lyons: “Psycho” was quick with a smile and some antics, including his spontaneous pants-drop at first base in 1990.

Tom Paciorek: Both as a White Sox player and broadcaster, Wimpy brought a real sense of fun to the game. In a game that’s ever-serious, how cool is it to have a guy still around the team (for sub work on broadcasts) who’s having so much fun?

Scott Radinsky: A punk-rock relief pitcher? You betcha. Both Radinsky and Jack McDowell brought serious music chops to the White Sox clubhouse of the early 1990s, but Radinsky took it all one step farther.

Yolmer Sánchez: Gatorade bather who lives by the mantra, “have a good time all the time.”

[poll id=”24″]

Previous winner: Ozzie Guillén (2019)


You made it! Thanks for participating.

 

 

 

Meet the Players: Tommy Barbee


Onetime aspiring black Quentin Tarantino, film major Tommy Barbee is the latest addition to South Side Hit Pen. He’s a vet, as some of us are wont to be, of the Bleacher-Report meat grinder, and impossibly clever and perceptive tweets @KindaBleu.

When not obsessing over our White Sox, and sports at large, Tommy plays guitar and writes on music as well. Earlier this year he teamed up with our Leonard Gore for the first Black Sox Brothers podcast.

Doing the lord’s work, he has converted his wife into Sox fandom, again as some of are wont to do, and is spending much of his free time these days chasing his three kids around the house.

Tommy’s first piece for us was published this evening, an even-keeled take on the Nomar Mazara trade.

So, please welcome our newest writer, light-hitting shortstop and bratwurst aficionado Tommy Barbee!


Hometown Chicago

White Sox fan since 1985

First White Sox memory Watching Carlton Fisk with my dad growing up. 

Favorite White Sox memory Seeing the White Sox win the World Series. It actually happened, right?

Favorite White Sox player Current? Yoán Moncada. All-time? Carlton Fisk

Next White Sox statue Mark Buehrle

Next White Sox retired number José Abreu

Go-to concession food at Sox Park Gotta get a brat, always!

Favorite baseball movie Bull Durham. So many great quotes in that movie, and I appreciate the cynicism compared to movies like The Natural.

Hall of Fame: speed round
Mark Buehrle At the risk of sounding like a homer, you can make a damn good case for him getting in.
Joe Jackson No
Paul Konerko Hall of Pretty Good. Unless he gets the Harold Baines treatment, Konerko won’t get in.
Minnie Miñoso Yes, it shouldn’t even be a debate
Omar Vizquel No
Chris Sale Yes, assuming his arm doesn’t fall off. I also want his shredded jersey in the HOF with him.

South Side Hit Pen on the field I played SS and the best comp for me was Rey Ordoñez. I was renowned for my defense, but couldn’t hit a lick.

True or false: Every jumbled pile of person has a thinking part that wonders what the part that isn’t thinking isn’t thinking of. This is totally true.

A Conversation With: Tony La Russa

I first wrote Tony La Russa back in the early 80’s when I was working at KNOE-TV in Monroe, La. As a big White Sox fan, I wanted to directly let him know my thoughts and opinions on how the team and organization was progressing. To my surprise, he answered with a hand written letter several pages long on his own stationary. He took the time to go over each point I made, good or bad, and explained the reasoning behind his actions. To say I was impressed would be an understatement, and that letter is one of my cherished possessions.

In 1983 the Sox opened what would eventually be a championship season in Texas. I took some vacation time, got media credentials and drove to Arlington to see the series in person. Standing on the field watching guys like Carlton Fisk, Greg Luzinski and Harold Baines take batting practice was an experience. But I also had the chance to do a radio interview with Tony near the batting cage, and appreciated the fact that he took some time out to talk.

We stayed in touch over the years every so often, but I never was able to get the chance to really spend some time with him and pick his brain on his days with the White Sox. That finally happened when his agent helped arrange a phone interview, which took place shortly after Christmas in December 2014. We talked for two and a half hours, and I could tell Tony really was getting into it, that this was an area that he hadn’t explored in quite some time. I also got the distinct impression with Tony having a law degree, that before he answered any question from me, he was giving serious thought to that answer … how it would be perceived, if he was recalling events correctly … things like that.

It was truly a memorable time for me and an interview that I’ll never forget.

So, “submitted for your edification” as Rod Serling once said on an episode of Night Gallery, is my interview with Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa.


Tony La Russa is a member of the Hall of Fame, as one of the greatest managers in baseball history. In 33 years he won 2,728 games. He won three World Series titles with Oakland and St. Louis. He won six pennants. He made 14 postseason appearances and managed six All-Star games. He made his reputation leading the A’s and Cardinals.

But before that, before all the wins and the World Series titles, Tony started his career in Chicago as manager of the White Sox, from August 1979 (succeeding Don Kessinger) through June 1986 (when he was fired by GM Hawk Harrelson). This two-and-a-half-hour phone interview was a fascinating look inside one of the smartest men to ever manage in baseball, and one of only five to have had a law degree — and all of those law alums ended up in the Hall of Fame. You’ll see La Russa was thoughtful, direct, funny and humble, remembering his days with the White Sox with great fondness.

Mark Liptak: What was your baseball history before you came to the Sox as manager?

Tony La Russa: I played 16 years in baseball, mostly in the minor leagues, and I was hurt for five of the first six of them. I had serious injuries five times, and played with a bad arm for most of that time. I was with the White Sox organization as a player/coach in 1975 and 1976; I did both at Denver and at Iowa before I finished my playing career in New Orleans in 1977, again as a player/coach. I really hadn’t thought a lot about managing or making baseball a career; I started law school while I was playing and I probably played the last five years just to be able to pay for my legal education. When I was at Denver, Loren Babe was the manager, and through him I really started to take an interest in coaching, Loren opened me up to what managing was really all about.

In 1977, after graduating from law school, I played for the Cardinals organization in New Orleans. One of my professors thought New Orleans might provide an opportunity to get work as a clerk for a circuit court judge, but I decided I wanted to see if I could continue my career in baseball. I wrote letters to teams, and the White Sox answered and actually offered me the job of managing the Knoxville team in Double-A for 1978. (Author’s Note: According to the 1984 White Sox media guide, Tony was offered the job primarily on the recommendation of Babe.) We did well and won the first half of the Southern League. I was promoted to be the first base coach of the Sox for the rest of that year. The next year I was named to manage the Triple-A team in Iowa before I was offered the Sox managerial position.

What do you remember about the day you were named manager?

It was bizarre, the way everything happened to me. I think I was promoted to first base coach because the Sox wanted some youthful enthusiasm on the staff, and then I coached in the Dominican Republic that offseason before going to Iowa. My wife and I were eating at a Chinese restaurant in Des Moines that day when Walt Jocketty, who was working for the Sox, found me. He said that Roland Hemond had called and that I needed to get back to him immediately. I called Roland and he said that Don Kessinger had decided to retire and offered me the job. I said, “Where?” and he said to manage the White Sox … I was stunned, and so was my wife when I told her.

We must have sat in that restaurant for at least an hour talking about it. Elaine, my wife, was about a month away from our first child and we were comfortable in Des Moines. We liked the area, and made friends. But the more we talked, the more we understood that an opportunity like this comes along once in a lifetime. If I said no, there were no guarantees something like this would happen again. So I called Roland, who had given me until 4 p.m., and said yes … we flew to Chicago, and it was announced the next day. Then I met the team in Toronto.

What are some of the best memories of the people you worked with? Let’s start with Bill Veeck.

I think the fact that I was going to law school intrigued him. When I was coaching, he often invited me to dinner. I’d be there with him and Paul Richards, Ken Silvestri and Roland Hemond. At those dinners he’d challenge you, he wanted to see if you’d speak your mind when he asked you about something. I remember one time we were talking about using the hit-and-run and playing the infield in halfway. Al Lopez, a great Sox manager, didn’t like the hit-and-run, and Paul Richards, another great Sox manager, didn’t like to bring his infield in halfway. I did, and had to defend my reasoning behind doing something like that.

Looking back, I was being tested by [Veeck]. I also was invited to join him in the Bards Room sometimes after games. You talk about going to grad school for baseball … that was special. When I went to those, you didn’t talk; you listened and maybe took some notes. I know when he offered me the job to manage the team again in 1980 he made me promise that I’d finish the final part of the Florida law school exam, which I did. That was important to him. I love Bill and Mary Frances Veeck, who became close with my wife.

In January 1981 Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn got the club, and things immediately began to happen. I know you are still close to both men [Einhorn passed away in 2016]. What were they like to work with?

When they took over, it wasn’t guaranteed that I’d stay as the manager. I know that both Bill and Roland went to bat for me and [Reinsdorf and Einhorn] got control of the club so late. It was only a month to go before spring training [so] it wouldn’t have made sense for them to try to find someone else at that point in time. I came to Chicago to meet them, explained my thoughts and they offered me the job. They showed confidence in me and support through good times and bad and that’s something I’ll never forget.

One of the first things they did when they took over was challenge Roland. They were into winning and they wanted to know how things could change with the team. With that, Roland told them to sign Carlton Fisk. That would send the message, and that’s what happened. They also got Greg Luzinski.

Eddie was the idea guy. He was into promotions, marketing, and television. Remember, this is the guy who basically got college basketball on TV. [Author’s Note: Einhorn also was a member for many years of baseball’s television committee and was the driving force behind getting the World Football League on the Hughes Television Network.] Jerry was more like the CEO, and that’s the approach he took. They made a very good team.

Jerry was very, very interested in the game, he was genuinely curious about it; he was a fan since he was a boy. He wanted to know why this hit-and-run didn’t work or what was the thought process behind putting this player in. We had a lot of great conversations. He also was very progressive in a lot of areas. For example, for a long time, coaches were just friends of the manager or guys getting their time in to get a pension. But Jerry recognized that because kids were being pushed to the majors earlier, the role of coaches as teachers became crucial. He embraced the idea of putting together the best coaching staff you possibly could, that the staff of a manager should be a force for developing players.

With that, I thought we had the best staff in baseball, Dave Duncan was our pitching coach and he was the best in the game. Charlie Lau was the best hitting coach in the game until he passed away. Ed Brinkman was a superb infield coach and Davey Nelson was a tremendous baserunning coach. We had Jimmy Leyland as the third base coach and everyone has seen what he did in his career. Art Kusnyer, “Caveman,” was the bullpen coach. Jerry has a great heart; he’s always giving and caring.

Your relationship also remains close with Hemond. In his interview with me, he always had the utmost respect and admiration for you and your ability.

I have never been around a person like Roland in my baseball career. He touched my life in so many ways. To be around a guy so positive and so respected, I truly believe that Roland is the most beloved man in this generation of baseball.

I can give you a few examples of what he did for me. One was at the winter meetings of 1979, when he took me around to introduce me to people, and another was in spring training 1980 … Roland told me that he had some things he needed to get done and wouldn’t be down to Sarasota until about 10 days after we started. Now if I really needed him, I could have called my “lifeline” and he would have come down. But later I realized that he was showing confidence in me, he was allowing me to take charge. Remember, this was my first spring training as manager.

Roland also was able to balance his kindness with the fact that he had responsibilities as a GM He was tough and never hesitated to make the tough call. That’s why he was an outstanding GM.

With the new ownership team in place, money started being spent and you got some quality players to work with immediately as Fisk and Luzinski signed on. It seemed like a different atmosphere with the club. Can a few good players make that much of a difference?

[Longtime manager] Gene Mauch told me that one of the most important keys to a successful team is the type of people your greatest stars are. Are they in it for the right reasons? Are they selfish? Both Carlton and Greg were great teammates, they were leaders in drills and on and off the field. They had terrific work ethics. Showing the proper way to do drills in spring training is very important.

They didn’t go through the motions, they did them correctly and that rubbed off on everyone else. You can’t overestimate how the culture changed, how our work ethic improved when those two men joined the team.

At 34, you were very young to be a manager, not much older than some players, and you were tested. Chet Lemon had his differences with you for a time [Author’s Note: Much to his regret as he told me] and Ron LeFlore just seemed to be a handful. How did you get your point across that you were in charge given the unusual nature of your age and the relationship to the players?

It was a unique situation. I got every break in the book to be able to manage after only doing it about a year and a half in the minor leagues. That being said, I never cheated the game. I played hard for 16 years, never gave away an at-bat and I took notes. I was told a simple formula: “Love the game and want to learn it.” That’s what I did.

By my nature I’m really not a ballsy guy, I don’t like to fight. I’d rather walk away. But if somebody gives you responsibility, your courage expands. I can say in all honesty that I was never afraid of any player, I never lied to them, I was never afraid to teach them and I was never afraid to care for them. When you take over as manager that first day, the respect and trust level starts at zero. You have to earn it. You have to tell the truth: We’re all in this together. I took a one-on-one personalized approach and felt that hard work would lead to success. You can’t be afraid to lead. [Former White Sox manager] Paul Richards told me something one time that I never forgot when I managed: “Trust your gut, don’t cover your ass.”

At times your relationship with Sox fans was a little rocky, to say the least; there were some tough times as you were laying the foundation for the 1983 success. In general, what did you think of Sox fans during your tenure?

I counted them as a blessing because they cared deeply about the team. They were and are very passionate. When I took over, they had no reason to have confidence in me. Like with the players, I had to earn their respect and trust. I always thought it starts with the effort being shown by the players and the staff. Sox fans, all fans, have the right to expect their team to be able to compete, to be able to win and to play in October. Yes, at times it was difficult. In 1982, I managed a series at home against Boston wearing a bulletproof vest under my jacket. There was a death threat. I thought it was a joke at first, but was told that it was being taken seriously.

Even with the labor impasse in 1981, the Sox finished with a winning record. In 1982, they won 87 games. By 1983, they were considered a legitimate threat to at least win the division. The pieces were falling into place, and that spring training the Sox had the best record in baseball at 20-7. But, according to Roland Hemond, you told him not to expect the Sox to get off to a quick start, and you didn’t. What gave you cause for concern to where you told Hemond that?

We were going to rely on a mix of veterans and young guys. Both can have drawbacks early in the season. For the veterans, it’s the cold weather that impacts them. When all is said and done, they’ll produce and get their numbers, but when the weather’s bad that can result in a slow start. Our young guys were really young, and inexperience can beat you early in the year. We were counting on everyday kids to help us, in Greg Walker, Scott Fletcher and Ron Kittle, and we had a bunch of younger pitchers, but they all needed time. You were there, Mark, on opening night in Texas. Greg made some key errors and we wound up losing the game [5-3 to the Rangers]. I just thought it would take a little time to get it together.

By May 26, the Sox had fallen to 16-24 and there was talk about you being fired. In fact, talk about that started back in July 1982. Hawk Harrelson made the comment that September on the WFLD-TV special “Next Year is Here …” that what saved the season was that you didn’t become paranoid with all the rumors, that you didn’t let that filter down the dugout and impact the players. What was that time period like for you personally? How could you not let that affect you?

I knew the heat was on, but I also knew we were better than this. Remember our philosophy: You learn, you teach, you practice it. Having a good frame of mind is part of what we teach. When you get into a difficult situation, are you going to give in to it? Or are you going to tough it out? I just didn’t want to hear or read about all the negativity.

Then the turnaround started and a big reason for it was your decision to bat Carlton Fisk in the second spot in the lineup. Former Chicago Sun-Times columnist Ron Rapoport told me that was a brilliant move because no one would think of putting a power hitter in a bat control spot in the lineup. What was your reasoning for the Fisk move?

Paul Richards told me one time that you never want to be in a situation where you say, “I’ve tried everything and it’s not working … it must be the players.” Richards said there’s always something else you can do or try. Carlton was struggling early in the season. This guy was a Hall-of-Famer, he had the talent, he was giving the effort, but it wasn’t working and it was getting to him mentally. He got hurt and didn’t play for several days. Remembering what Paul told me, I went to Charlie Lau and talked with him about it.

We had a deep middle of the order with guys like Bull Luzinski, Harold Baines, and Tom Paciorek and had I left Carlton there by the end of the year he would have produced his numbers. But sometimes a different look can help you mentally so I thought, after talking to Charlie, that maybe moving [Fisk] up in the order would give him a different responsibility and help him. It was a nice change of pace for him, because now Rudy Law gets on and Carlton starts taking a pitch or two to see if Rudy will steal a base. Then, maybe he hits a ground ball to the right side and Rudy gets to third, or if he’s in scoring position, Carlton’s going the opposite way and drives in a run. Before long, Carlton really embraced that spot in the lineup and it was a tremendous help to the team.

This was the first time I had ever tried something like this, and I took it with me to Oakland and St. Louis. I had Dave Henderson hit second in Oakland, and I had guys like Brian Jordan and Ray Langford hit second in St. Louis. These were guys who could hit the ball out of the park and drive in runs. The other benefit was that it turned the lineup over and gave at-bats to guys who could win games … how many times have you seen a game end before the third or fourth hitter in the lineup could get that one additional at-bat?

The Sox then put it together and exploded in the second half. They went 46-15 the final two months, in one of the best stretches in baseball history. Starting pitchers LaMarr Hoyt, Rich Dotson and Floyd Bannister were 42-5 after the All-Star break. Team chemistry was so good on that club, Jerry Koosman told me. Ron Kittle and others told me about how the players would stay in the clubhouse after games to talk, and about the team parties on the road. That club was a throwback, weren’t they? They loved the game and really seemed to care for each other.

Fisk was on that 1975 Red Sox club, Koosman was on the 1969 Mets, Tom Paciorek made the playoffs with the Dodgers and Bull Luzinski was on those Phillies teams that made a number of playoff appearances. But you ask any of those guys and they’ll tell you the most fun they ever had was on the 1983 White Sox. That was a classic team. There was no attitude from anybody … not the veterans or the kids. That team was so tight and it wasn’t just the players and coaches … it was [trainer] Herm Schneider, it was Willie Thompson and the clubhouse guys. It was everybody all focused on winning.

The other thing that was special about the club was we embraced the pressure that was being put upon us. We’d lose two or three games in a row, and the talk would start about another Chicago team folding …no Chicago baseball team had won since 1959, the Cubs collapse in 1969, all of that. We said the hell with that, we’re going to win anyway. That team was so relentless.

As far as the team parties, that was something I started doing in Knoxville. I was paying for them out of my own pocket and I wasn’t making a lot of money, but I thought it was good for the team to be around each other. Eventually the owner heard about it and he started paying for them. I did it in Chicago. It was something like, “We’re going to get together from 6-7:30, then you can go do what you want …” It brought the team closer together, and they were a close team. There were never any bad fights or arguments in the clubhouse that season. And sometimes I would do it even if we hadn’t won a game. In Texas we lost opening night, lost again the next day. Before the third game I said, “We’re getting together to celebrate Scott Fletcher getting engaged.”

On Sept. 17, 1983 the Sox won the division, beating Seattle 4-3 at Comiskey Park, and were postseason-bound for the first time in 24 years. What was that experience like for you?

I remember thinking this is a series of steps: Can you take a team and have it qualify for the playoffs … then can you win them? As far as the moment itself I was ecstatic, euphoric … we did it! Our unit pulled it off!

The ALCS against Baltimore was another story. The Sox just couldn’t hit. I’ve read talk that perhaps the victory party downtown right before the playoffs started may have put undue pressure on some players. Looking back, did that have an impact?

That’s a really good question. I don’t think it was good to push Bull [Luzinski] to be our spokesperson. He was from Chicago, and we had him speak for all of us. But I don’t think the rally itself did anything to hurt us.

The issue was that I didn’t do a good job of getting the team to turn the page, to let go of the fact that we won the division and had to start over. That’s on me. When I went to Oakland I met John Madden and he told me the same thing, that after the Raiders won the Super Bowl they had a bad season the next year, and John said it was because he didn’t get the guys to go back to zero and start over. I could have done more to get the team ready. That being said, we did win the first game on the road [the Sox won Game 1 in Baltimore 2-1 behind a complete game, six-hitter by Hoyt], we just got beat by the world champions.

After the Sox lost Game 4 in the way they did … it was excruciating, and Baltimore celebrated on the field. But both you and Jerry Dybzinski faced the media afterwards and answered all the questions. That showed character; other guys might have ducked out and blown the media off. Did you remember what you told the team after the loss?

I told them the obvious things; that we had to acknowledge what happened, but we also knew that we’d cherish this forever. If you lose, as long as you gave it your best shot, that’s all you could ask for. Even though we lost, the memories won’t ever be forgotten.

The Sox were the consensus pick to repeat in 1984. You had won seven straight and were in first place at the All-Star break, yet things fell apart in the second half and you ended up with a losing record and way out of the chase for the division. Ron Kittle told me he thought the team quit, and that’s a direct quote. What happened?

I always appreciated Ron’s candor and his willingness to say what he feels. I disagree with him, though, I don’t think the guys quit. Often when you look at something to evaluate it, you go to the first line or two and stop. Sometimes you need to look a lot deeper and that’s what I think happened in 1984.

Here’s what I mean: Carlton Fisk was hurt and missed time [Fisk played in 102 games in 1984 and hit only .231]. That was a significant part of our lineup that wasn’t available. Julio Cruz signed that big contract in the offseason and I don’t blame him or his agent for getting it, but it affected him. He was never comfortable with it, he was trying to justify it and he regressed as a player. And finally, we traded away Jerry Koosman, and that was a major mistake.

In 1983, Dennis Lamp was the leading guy out of the bullpen and everyone in the organization felt we needed to strengthen the back end. We traded Koosman for Ron Reed, and that would have been OK except that nobody, including myself, recognized the impact that [Koosman] had on this team. It was a big mistake. Bull [Luzinski] and [Koosman] were like brothers and if I remember right, Greg retired after 1984 and didn’t have a good year. [Luzinski retired after 15 years in the big leagues after the season. In 1984 he had only 13 home runs and 58 RBIs after 32 and 95 in 1983.] The vibe of the team would have been much different in 1984 if we had kept [Koosman].

In 1985 the Sox rebounded with 85 wins and you had the pleasure of managing future Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver. What was that relationship like?

I have that 1985 team high on my list of favorites, because they had great chemistry and showed great character after what happened in 1984. You remember Ozzie Guillén was Rookie of the Year that season. As far as Tom, it was one of my greatest fortunes to be with him those two years. He won 15 games each season and he had the most brilliant mind to go with his great talent. He taught me a lot, he taught me how a pitcher thinks … how a winning pitcher thinks and sets up hitters.

Hawk Harrelson took over in 1986 as GM, and he had his own views on how things should be done. Some examples were wanting to move Carlton Fisk to left field, hiring Don Drysdale as a pitching consultant even though you had a pitching coach, and requiring that all Sox minor league coaches be former big league players. It just seemed like oil and water, and you eventually were let go in June. Did you just know from the beginning it wasn’t going to work out?

It hurt. I had a great experience with the White Sox family, and then suddenly you’re out of the family. The thing is, to be fair to Hawk and Don and the organization, given what those men accomplished in the game you can’t discount their opinions, they earned the right to be heard. What should have happened, looking back, is that if the organization wanted Hawk to take over, he should have had the right to hire his own manager. He should have gotten a new manager right from the start. I should have been called in at the end of the 1985 season and let go … and I would have been OK with that. I would have thought that I had a nice run, and it was time to move on. I don’t know if that’s something Hawk wanted to do at the time, however.

Over the years you’d read or hear stories from time to time about you returning to the Sox as field manager. Were you ever close to coming back at any point?

There was one chance, and it almost happened, because we were getting new ownership in Oakland. [A’s owner Walter] Haas had announced he was going to sell the team; this was before his health problems started. In the winter of 1994, before spring training in 1995, I thought I was going to manage the Red Sox. But Mr. Haas asked me to lunch and wondered if I would stay one more season. I had also looked at Baltimore as a possible job, because my preference was to stay in the American League. The next year I left Oakland, and there was some discussion with the White Sox. I had talked with Ron Schueler, who was the Sox GM and who was my pitching coach with the Sox in 1981 and who I worked with in Oakland. The Sox, though, decided that Terry Bevington was the right man for the opening and gave him the job.

Soon after that, Walt Jocketty called me. He had gone to St. Louis after the 1995 season and took over as GM. I talked to Sparky Anderson, and he told me that one time I should manage in the National League because the situations were so different from the AL. I thought it over, and when St. Louis offered me the job, I took it.

You’ll go into the Hall of Fame this August as one of the all-time winningest managers. Have you ever wondered what may have happened if you stayed with the Sox? I know Sox fans wonder how many championships you might have won had you stayed for 20 years or so.

Yes, I do, but more for entertainment. I don’t take a lot of time to look back in a serious manner. I just think you have to move on from the past, learn from it and go forward. I will occasionally tease Jerry [Reinsdorf] about it, though. I honestly think had I stayed with the White Sox for 30 years that the team would have won multiple world championships. I think that because we were so united. Everyone from the owners to the front office to the coaching staff was on the same page. Our minor league system was developing, and we had good people in all areas.

I’m sure you know Reinsdorf many times has publicly stated the biggest mistake he ever made with the Sox was letting Hawk Harrelson fire you. [Author’s Note: An example of Reinsdorf’s thought process came in Rob Rains’ book Tony LaRussa: Man on a Mission: “I never should have allowed Tony to be fired. I’ve often said that was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made. I knew it was wrong. I knew it was a mistake. And I let it happen anyway.”]

I appreciate his comment. That’s very nice of him to say that.

To wrap up, can you sum up your days with the Sox?

Sure. The White Sox gave me my first opportunity. I would never, ever disrespect the organization or the years I spent in Chicago. I appreciate what they did for me so much. I learned a lot from the opportunity. I learned about family and about relationships in my time there. They will always be a big part of my heart. Every time I see people like Jerry and Roland, we embrace.

I’ll tell you something, Mark; I spend more time socially with people from the White Sox than I do with people from Oakland or St. Louis. I’ll give you a couple examples. Over the summer I had dinner with Jerry [Reinsdorf], Art Kusnyer, Jim Thome and Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls coach … I really like him, by the way. Just a few weeks ago, I had dinner with Jerry, Buddy Bell, Jim and Bo Jackson.

The thing that struck me about that dinner was how vitally interested and concerned Jim and Bo were about getting the fans back engaged with the team. To have two of the best hitters I’ve ever seen show that much concern was impressive to me, and I feel the same way. I’m committed to do what I can to help rejuvenate the passion and support of White Sox fans towards the team. Now I understand the Sox themselves have to give the fans a reason to get engaged; they have to start playing better baseball. Last year was painful to watch, but if I can do anything to help that along, I will.

Tony, I’m grateful for the time you showed me today. This was a big thrill for me and a highlight of the many, many interviews I’ve done with members of the Sox family.

It was a lot of fun for me, too. I enjoyed looking back and talking about those times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today in White Sox History: October 5

Curve ball: Michael Jordan’s bombshell cast a Pall over the 1993 ALCS. (@Cut4)


1908 — White Sox pitcher Ed Walsh won his 40th game of the season, as he beat the Detroit Tigers, 6-1. No one has come close to 40 wins since.


1983Cy Young Award winner LaMarr Hoyt pitched a brilliant, complete game six-hitter in beating the Orioles 2-1 in Game 1 of the ALCS. It was the first time since divisional playoffs started in 1969 that Baltimore had lost the first game of a postseason series. It would prove to be the high-water mark for the Sox in the next week.


1993 — Game 1 of the ALCS was a complete, unmitigated disaster both on and off the field for the White Sox. On the field, the Toronto Blue Jays ripped the Sox, 7-3, but by the middle of the game, not one fan cared. Michael Jordan, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch, confirmed reports that he was holding a press conference the next morning to announce his retirement from the Chicago Bulls. Fans at the game and around the city were in shock.

Adding insult to injury, future Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk and Chicago native and former Sox pitcher Donn Pall were turned away by security guards when they attempted to wish the team good luck in the locker room before the game started. The White Sox claimed the rules were set by major league baseball but no fan or media member was fooled by that comment. Most media members felt Fisk was turned away on explicit orders from owner Jerry Reinsdorf. It was an insult Fisk never forgot.

Reinsdorf then took an unprecedented step of apologizing to the team in the clubhouse before the start of Game 2, saying he had no desire to steal their spotlight because of the Jordan situation.


2008 — Making the postseason for the third time in the decade, the White Sox were on the brink of elimination in the 2008 ALDS, but behind strong starting pitching from John Danks they beat the Rays, 5-3, to survive another day. Danks pitched into the seventh inning, with seven strikeouts. A three-run fourth inning set the tone for the Sox in the game, and narrowed Tampa Bay’s series lead to 2-1. 

Today in White Sox History: September 15

Double his pleasure: Lyons was so great for the White Sox, the franchise honored him with two “Days.”


Sept. 15, 1940Ted Lyons Day was held at Comiskey Park. The “Baylor Bearcat” won 260 games with the club and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1955. His No. 16 would be retired in 1987. This was the second time Lyons was honored this way, the first time coming in 1933.


Sept. 15, 1964 — In his first at-bat in the American League after many seasons in the NL, pinch-hitter deluxe Forrest “Smoky” Burgess belted a game-tying home run at Detroit. The Sox would eventually beat the Tigers 3-2 in 10 innings, keeping their pennant hopes alive. Burgess would lead the league in pinch hits in 1965 and 1966.


Sept. 15, 1970 — Shortly after taking over as the new director of player personnel, Roland Hemond targeted the man who’d eventually in his words, “save” the franchise. Hemond called Bing Devine to see what the chances were of making a deal for Cardinals slugger Dick Allen. Devine turned him down, but 15 months later Hemond would get his man — from the Los Angeles Dodgers.


Sept. 15, 1983 — The White Sox set the franchise record for most runs scored in the sixth inning of a game when they got 11 in a 12-0 win over the Seattle Mariners at Comiskey Park. LaMarr Hoyt got the win, his 21st on the season. The game only lasted seven innings due to rain. Harold Baines had a grand slam, as the Sox cut their magic number down to two for winning the division. The Sox sent 17 men to the plate in the sixth, which saw them get nine hits.


Sept. 15, 1990 — Owner Jerry Reinsdorf fired GM Larry Himes, citing “personality differences.” Himes drafted and signed future White Sox stars like Frank Thomas, Jack McDowell, Robin Ventura and Alex Fernandez. During the press conference announcing the hiring of Ron Schueler as new GM, Reinsdorf issued his famous “point A to point B to point C” comment. Later in a rare radio appearance he was candid on the subject to host Chet Coppock: “The fact is, Larry Himes cannot get along with anybody. You can hardly find anybody in the Sox organization that wasn’t happy when Larry Himes left.”


Sept. 15, 1996Frank Thomas slugged his 215th home run in a Sox uniform, breaking Carlton Fisk’s team record. Thomas homered three times at Fenway Park off the Red Sox’s Tim Wakefield, yet the Sox lost the game, 9-8.


Sept. 15, 1997 — In an 11-10 loss in Milwaukee, Sox rookies Mario Valdez and Jeff Abbott both hit their first big league home runs. Valdez got his in the fifth inning, Abbott an inning later.