All heart: Bernazard was a core member of La Russa’s early -1980s White Sox teams. (@RonVesely)
In an effort to start improving a desultory offense, White Sox GM Roland Hemond and new owner Bill Veeck acquired former NL batting champ Ralph “Road Runner” Garr from Atlanta for three players, including outfielder Ken Henderson and pitcher Dick Ruthven. Garr would have severe limitations on defense, but he did become the catalyst for the South Side Hit Men in 1977 with his speed and ability to hit to all fields. That year, he’d hit .300 with 10 home runs, 54 RBIs and 12 stolen bases.
Sometimes, smaller moves can turn out to be important:Hemond traded pitcher Richard “Tex” Wortham to the Expos for switch-hitting second baseman Tony Bernazard. Bernazard would be part of the “New Deal” Sox in 1981 and would eventually be traded for another productive second baseman, Julio “Juice” Cruz in June 1983. Manager Tony LaRussa called Bernazard the heart of the club while he was on the South Side.
Stone, Mach 1: The thinking man’s pitcher made his first appearance in Chisox duds after a Roland Hemond heist in 1972. (Topps)
1972 – White Sox GM Roland Hemond sent pitcher Tom Bradley to the Giants for outfielder Ken Henderson and pitcher Steve Stone. Henderson was a Gold Glove-winning, power-hitting center fielder while Stone added depth to the pitching staff. Bradley never regained the form in San Francisco that he showed with the Sox in 1971 and 1972, and was out of baseball by 1975.
1977 – In the wake of free agent defections by Richie Zisk and Oscar Gamble, owner Bill Veeck signed infielder/DH Ron Blomberg to a free agent contract. Blomberg had missed the previous two years with a severe leg injury, but Veeck signed him anyway. On Opening Day 1978 Blomberg hit a dramatic, ninth-inning, game-tying home run, but he did very little afterwards. Making matters worse is that Veeck signed him to a guaranteed multiyear contract.
Veeck was forced to set his sights on Blomberg because Gamble took a last-minute offer from the Padres, after the Sox thought they had a deal to keep him on the South Side.