Today in White Sox History: December 15

Double threat: Julio Franco possessed both one of the best smiles and most unique batting stances in White Sox history.


1960
White Sox owner Bill Veeck made up for some of his deals after the 1959 season by getting pitchers Juan Pizarro and Cal McLish from the Reds for infielder Gene Freese. Manager Al Lopez and pitching coach Ray Berres had their eyes on Pizarro for a few years, but Milwaukee refused to deal him to the Sox. Veeck therefore got his friend Bill DeWitt of Cincinnati to swing a deal and then to ship Pizarro to the South Side.

Pizarro was an enigmatic, moody pitcher, but when he got on the mound he was all business. Possessor of a blazing fastball, the lefthander had four seasons of double-figure wins, including 16 in 1963 and 19 in 1964. He was a two time All-Star selection.


1967
In one of the worst deals ever made by GM Ed Short, t
he White Sox sent infielder and base stealer Al Weis along with outfielder, base stealer and home run hitter Tommie Agee to the Mets in exchange for former NL batting champ Tommy Davis, pitcher Jack Fisher and catcher Buddy Booker. Two years later, the Mets would win the World Series thanks in large part to the play of Agee and Weis. None the players the Sox got in return did much for them. Deals along those lines sent the franchise into a tailspin, and by September 1970 Short was fired.


1993
White Sox GM Ron Schueler’s luck with taking chances on hurt or limited free agents continued when he signed Julio Franco to a contract. Franco would have a tremendous 1994 season hitting behind Frank Thomas. Julio would have 20 home runs, 98 RBIs, eight stolen bases and a .319 batting average in his one year in Chicago. He went to Japan the next year because the Sox refused to meet his asking price on a new deal.

 

 

Today in White Sox History: December 8

Cashing in: The only time in the 20th Century that the reigning MVP was traded or sold came in 1914, when the White Sox snagged future Hall-of-Famer Eddie Collins. (Baseball Hall of Fame)


1914
The White Sox purchased reigning MVP and future Hall of Fame second baseman Eddie Collins from Connie Mack and the Philadelphia A’s. The price was incredible based on 1914 standards: $50,000 went to Mack. $15,000 went to Collins as a signing bonus, and then Collins was tendered a five-year guaranteed deal worth $75,000! Collins would play for the White Sox for 12 seasons.


1959
The offseason purging of young players continued with the White Sox shipping future All-Star, power-hitting outfielder Johnny Callison to the Phillies for third baseman Gene Freese. Of all the offseason moves, this was probably the worst.

Freese was a slow, scattergun-armed infielder with limited range. Callison, the subject of “The Life of a Sox Rookie” documentary film in 1958, failed in a few tries to take over the left field spot but in a new environment blossomed, winning the 1964 All-Star Game for the National League with a three-run, ninth-inning home run. The AL team that year was led by (ironically) Sox skipper Al Lopez!

Freese would be sent along in 1961 to the Reds in exchange for two pitchers, one of whom was Juan Pizarro, who became a two-time All-Star. Freese would return to the Sox for parts of the 1965 and 1966 seasons.

The Sox, meanwhile, realized the mistake they had made and tried to reacquire Callison from Philadelphia before the start of the 1962 season without success. He’d play 10 seasons with the Phillies, accumulating five years in double figures for triples, eight seasons with 10 or more home runs and four years with at least 78 RBIs.


1996
Pitcher Alex Fernandez signed a free-agent deal with Florida, the culmination of misunderstandings and pettiness. Sox ownership felt Fernandez was going to remain contractually bound to them for another season, but that was torpedoed when the players union and owners agreed to give players service time during the time missed in 1994 because of the labor impasse. Fernandez became a free agent, and the Sox hastily made a late offer that was rebuffed. He won 79 games in four full and three partial seasons with the White Sox. Without him to anchor the rotation, the Sox were forced to try to fill the void. The choice to do so, Jamie Navarro, was a complete disaster.


2004
Trying to fortify his bullpen, White Sox GM Ken Williams inked free agent pitcher Dustin Hermanson to a contract. Hermanson would be spectacular in the first half of the 2005 championship season before back issues limited him in the second half. He’d still finish with 34 saves and an ERA of 2.04.