Steal of a deal: Ed Short snagged four cornerstones of the mid-1960s White Sox, including Pete Ward, in a single trade in 1963.
In a move that re-energized the franchise and led directly to back-to-back-to-back 90-or-more-win seasons in 1963, 1964 and 1965. White Sox GM Ed Short traded shortstop Luis Aparicio and outfielder Al Smith to the Baltimore Orioles for third baseman Pete Ward, outfielder Dave Nicholson, shortstop Ron Hansen and relief pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm.
Ward would be named co-Rookie of the Year (with teammate Gary Peters) and would supply power for the next few seasons. Nicholson, who struck out far too much, would have 22 home runs and 70 RBIs in 1963. Hansen would be one of the best defensive shortstops in the league and hit as many as 20 home runs in a season, at a time when shortstops simply didn’t do that. Wilhelm became the top relief pitcher of the 1960’s; in his six years with the Sox he’d win 41 games and save 98 others while producing some astonishingly low ERAs considering he threw the knuckleball.
The White Sox acquired pitcher David Wells from Toronto, basically for pitcher Mike Sirotka. Over the coming weeks and months, Sirotka and the Blue Jays claimed the Sox knew that Sirotka had a bad arm and couldn’t pitch. Sox GM Ken Williams defended himself by saying that he told the Jays he thought Sirotka might be hurt and offered pitcher Jim Parque instead. Commissioner Bud Selig ruled in late March that the trade would stand. The whole episode became known as “Shouldergate.”
High hopes: It worked out for most of these guys on the South Side … except Sax, (exit stage) far right.
It was one of the worst deals of White Sox GM Ron Schueler‘s career, as he traded pitcher Melido Perez and two minor leaguers to the Yankees for Steve Sax. Schueler envisioned a devastating 1-2 punch at the top of the order in Tim Raines and Sax, followed by Frank Thomas and Robin Ventura. It never happened, as Sax suddenly forget how to hit and was gone from the team by late April 1994. Making matters worse is that one of the minor league pitchers dealt was Bob Wickman, who’d go on to become a top relief pitcher and All-Star.
Sax did have one moment of glory, as on May 5, 1993 in Milwaukee he made an incredible catch in left field on a ball hit by Billy Doran with the lead run on base. It happened in the eighth inning. Sax broke back and to his left on the drive and caught the ball with his right arm extended. The angle and momentum caused him to tumble over and he lost the ball out of his glove on the way down. Just before hitting the ground, however, Sax snagged the ball with his bare left hand, holding it up to the umpire after he hit the grass. That saved a run, and the Sox won the game, 3-1, on a Ventura home run in the top of the ninth inning.
After one injury-plagued, controversial season with the Sox, pitcher David Wells signed a contract with the Yankees. Wells won only five games in 2001 on the South Side. Naturally, he then turned around and won 61 games over the next four years with New York, San Diego and Boston.