Today in White Sox History: February 9

Three bagged: Lance Johnson was a triples machine on the South Side. (Fleer)


1988
Another one of the smaller moves completed by White Sox GM Larry Himes that paid off in a major way. Himes shipped pitcher Jose DeLeon to the Cardinals for pitcher Ricky Horton and outfielder Lance Johnson. Johnson, would blossom into one of the better defensive center fielders in the American League, become a solid hitter and steal 226 bases in his eight years on the South Side. He led the American League in triples four straight seasons between 1991 and 1994.

Johnson would have a 25-game hitting streak in 1992, batting .439 during that stretch and would also collect six hits in six at-bats in a game at Minnesota on Sept. 23, 1995 (three of his six hits were triples). He would sign a free agent contract with the Mets after the 1995 season.

 

Today in White Sox History: December 10

Doubling back: After his brother purchased the club from Bill Veeck in 1961, John Allyn returns the “keys to the White Sox.”


1963
One of the last players from the “Go-Go” Sox era, second baseman Nellie Fox, was traded to the Houston Colt 45s for pitchers Jim Golden and Danny Murphy. Fox, who’d eventually be elected to the Hall of Fame, played for 14 years on the South Side, being named to 12 All-Star teams. He was AL MVP in 1959 and won three Gold Gloves. Fox was dealt because young infielder Don Buford had hit .336 at Indianapolis and was ready to take over.


1975
After first being turned down, American League owners voted to allow Bill Veeck to buy the White Sox from John Allyn. The agreement kept the team in Chicago and ended speculation that the Sox were bound for Seattle, with Charlie Finley’s A’s headed for the South Side. Major League baseball wanted the Sox to move to the Pacific Northwest in order to end lawsuits filed after the Pilots were moved to Milwaukee before the start of the 1970 season.

It was the second time Veeck owned the club, the first time being from 1959 through July 1961.


1976
Bill Veeck came up with a unique way to try to bolster his cash-strapped franchise: A Rent-a-Player approach, attempting to acquire as many players as possible who were about to become free agents. He figured that because those players were playing for new, big money deals, they’d play hard every night.

With that as the backdrop, he traded relief pitchers Rich Gossage and Terry Forster, both former American League Fireman of the Year winners, to the Pirates for slugger Richie Zisk and pitcher Silvio Martinez.

Zisk, in his one season on the South Side, would belt 30 home runs and knock in 101 as the undisputed leader of the South Side Hit Men who shocked baseball by winning 90 games in 1977. Among Zisk’s home runs that season were a blast into the original center field bleachers at Comiskey Park (under the exploding scoreboard) and one over the roof and out of the park in left-center.


1987
GM Larry Himes sent pitcher Floyd Bannister and infielder Dave Cochrane to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for four players, including pitchers Greg Hibbard and Melido Perez. Both would help stabilize the starting rotation in the early 1990s.

 

Today in White Sox History: October 29

El Señor: Lopez, hired on this day 63 years ago, would win 840 games with the White Sox. (Wikipedia)


1956Al Lopez replaced Marty Marion as White Sox manager. Marion, who did a fine job in replacing Paul Richards, had missed an important board meeting to be with his family at an event. It was all the excuse the Sox needed to let him go, despite third-place finishes and winning records in 1955 and 1956.

“El Señor” would prove to be a most able replacement, however. Lopez had nine straight winning seasons with the White Sox and copped the 1959 American League pennant. Many say he was the finest manager in team history; he holds the franchise record for the highest winning percentage for any manager who lasted at least five full seasons, at .562. Lopez eventually won 840 games over nine full seasons and two partial ones. 


1986Larry Himes was hired as the new White Sox GM, replacing Ken Harrelson. Himes drafted and signed Sox future stars like Frank Thomas, Jack McDowell, Robin Ventura and Alex Fernandez. He would be fired in September 1990 after philosophical differences between him and ownership made working together impossible.

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.