Today in White Sox History: March 30

caption


1971
Another good deal pulled off by the White Sox and GM Roland Hemond. He sent catcher Duane Josephson and pitcher Danny Murphy to the Red Sox for relief pitcher Vicente Romo and first baseman Tony Muser.

Muser was one of the best defensive first baseman in baseball and was tremendous as a late-inning replacement for Dick Allen. He was an earlier version of Mike Squires, if you will. Romo helped stabilize a young White Sox bullpen with an ERA of 3.33 and six saves in his two years with the team, primarily as a middle relief guy.


1981
Shortly before the start of the regular season, the White Sox purchased the contract of Chicago native slugger Greg Luzinski from the Phillies. The strongman would become a two-time American League Designated Hitter of the Year and provide solid power to the middle of the batting order. In his three-and-a-half seasons with the White Sox he pounded out 84 home runs and drove in 317 RBIs. “Bull” would also become the first man to hit three rooftop home runs in a single season at the original Comiskey Park (1983).


1982
Needing outfield help, White Sox GM Roland Hemond sent two prospects to the Dodgers for the speedy Rudy Law. Law would smash the team’s stolen base record in 1983, swiping 77 bases. His career on the South Side wasn’t long, but it was memorable, as he supplied speed and defense to the 1983 Western Division champions. In his four years with the Sox, Rudy stole 171 bases.


1992
Seeking another power bat to hit behind Frank Thomas and Robin Ventura and not being able to close a deal with Mark McGwire, White Sox GM Ron Schueler dealt outfielder Sammy Sosa and pitcher Ken Patterson to the Cubs for outfielder/DH George Bell. Bell would have 112 RBIs in 1992 and a solid 1993, but outbursts during the 1993 ALCS over playing time sealed his fate with the organization.

Sosa would become the face of the Cubs and challenge the all-time single season home run marks in the late 1990s. However in the wake of the steroid scandal and his potential involvement with it he left baseball with a cloud over him, with his future Hall of Fame chances in real jeopardy.


 

Today in White Sox History: March 21

Seeds of Sox: Charles Comiskey purchased the Sioux City Huskers and, eventually, brought them to Chicago.


1900
After a meeting with the Chicago Cubs, the way was cleared for Charles Comiskey to bring his team from St. Paul, Minn. to Chicago. He would set up shop of the South Side of the city. However, Comiskey was bringing the team to town regardless of whether the Cubs approved or not — the meeting was set up merely to try to avoid any conflicts.


1997
The White Sox suffered a major blow to their hopes for a championship when star third baseman Robin Ventura destroyed his ankle and lower leg on a slide at home plate in a spring game against the Red Sox. The injury was so horrific that a woman sitting in the stands passed out when she saw the result. Ventura’s spikes caught in the ground, grotesquely twisting his foot 180 degrees in the opposite direction.

The injury took place only 10 days before the season opener, and the Sox were left in a state of shock. GM Ron Schueler announced to the media the team would be looking for a replacement, and then did nothing to fill the void. The Sox stumbled out of the gate with an 8-18 start. Thankfully after a rigorous rehabilitation process, Robin would come back to play in 54 games in 1997 and continue to have an outstanding major league career.

 

This Week in White Sox History: March 8-14

The Most: Johnny Mostil (left), one of the best outfielders in White Sox history saw things take a very bad turn 93 years ago.


March 8, 1948
WGN, channel 9 in Chicago, announced that it would televise White Sox games for the first time. Veteran radio sports broadcasters Jack Brickhouse and Harry Creighton would become the first White Sox TV announcers in history.


March 9, 1927
Popular Sox outfielder Johnny Mostil attempted suicide in a hotel room in Shreveport, La. Despite razor cuts to his wrist, neck and chest, Mostil survived and returned to the team in April although he’d only play in 13 games that season. In 10 years with the White Sox, Mostil would hit better than .300 four times. After his career he’d become a longtime White Sox scout/coach and help develop future players like All-Star outfielder Jim Landis.


March 10, 1995
After two stints at White Sox spring training and a full season in Birmingham, Michael Jordan announced he was giving up baseball. Part of the reason was because of his struggles with the game, but the other, larger part (as he explained to author Bob Greene, in the book, “Rebound, The Odyssey of Michael Jordan”) was because he was being pressured by Sox G.M. Ron Schueler to cross the MLBPA picket line.

With “replacement” games set to start, Jordan stated that he was told if he didn’t cross the line, he’d be banished from the main clubhouse. Jordan was furious, saying that he was promised by owner Jerry Reinsdorf he wouldn’t have to take that step. Jordan explained that under no circumstances would he ever cross a labor picket line regardless of sport: “I told them from the beginning that I didn’t want them to use me to make money in the spring training games. We had an understanding. It was never supposed to even come up. I was disgusted that the promise wasn’t going to be honored,” he told Greene. Jordan would return to the Bulls and win three more championships.


March 11, 1968
White Sox rookie pitcher Cisco Carlos was part of the cover shot for Sports Illustrated. The headline read, “The Best Rookies Of 1968.” Unfortunately, Carlos didn’t turn out to be one of them, either in the short term or the long one. In fact, of the five players on the cover only Johnny Bench and Mike Torrez made a name for themselves in the sport. In two-and-a-half seasons with the White Sox, Carlos went 10-17.


March 12, 1973
White Sox third baseman and former AL home run champ Bill Melton appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The headline read, “Chicago Comes Out Swinging. Slugger Bill Melton.” Melton would have a nice comeback season after missing most of 1972 with a herniated disc, hitting .277 with 20 home runs and 87 RBIs.


March 13, 2000
White Sox slugger Frank Thomas is again featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. A lengthy story covered his career, controversies and his desire to return to the top of the game. The headline stated, “Don’t Question My Desire. Frank Thomas Comes Out Swinging.” Thomas would have a spectacular season in 2000, losing out on his third AL MVP to Jason Giambi, who’d later admit to using steroids in grand jury testimony. Frank’s numbers in 2000 included a .328 batting average, 43 home runs, 143 RBIs, 112 walks and a slugging percentage of .625.


March 14, 1994
Sports Illustrated took issue with former NBA superstar Michael Jordan and his attempt to play baseball. Jordan was on the cover of SI again, but in a negative light. The headline read, “Bag It Michael! Jordan and the White Sox Are Embarrassing Baseball.” From that day on, Jordan (who was always very cooperative with that magazine) would never speak to Sports Illustrated again.

Today in White Sox History: January 12

Kicked to the curb: Navarro’s tempestuous tenure came to an end on this day, 20 years ago. To think we coulda had Roger Clemens instead.


2000
White Sox GM Ron Schueler made amends for one of his worst moves by shipping disgruntled pitcher Jaime Navarro and John Snyder to Milwaukee as part of a four-player deal. In exchange, he got long-ball hitting shortstop José Valentín and pitcher Cal Eldred.

Both would play a large part in the unexpected divisional championship in 2000. Eldred went 10-2 in 20 starts for the team before an elbow injury basically ended his White Sox career in July. Valentín played five years on the South Side, averaging 120 hits, 27 home runs and 76 RBIs — and he was a Cubs-killer.

One of the highlights in José’s White Sox stint was a very rare accomplishment, a “natural” cycle that took place against the Orioles on April 27, 2000. He singled in the first, doubled in the second, tripled in the third and homered in the eighth inning of a 13-4 win.

 

 

Today in White Sox History: January 10

High hopes: It worked out for most of these guys on the South Side … except Sax, (exit stage) far right.


1992
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.


2002
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.

 

Today in White Sox History: January 4

Inked to a comeback: Burks re-set his career on the South Side, then found glory in Colorado. (@KnightsBaseball)


1993
The White Sox signed oft-injured outfielder Ellis Burks to a one-year contract. Burks would have a breakout season in 1993 with 17 homers, 71 RBIs and a .275 batting average in the divisional championship season. He’d catch the final out to clinch the division title that season as well. Unfortunately, GM Ron Schueler wouldn’t give Burks the multi-year deal he was looking for when the season ended, and the outfielder left for Colorado and became an All-Star.

 

Today in White Sox History: December 28

Hey Mr. DJ, I Thought You Said We Had a Deal: Burks begat Jackson for 1994.


1993
As part of an effort to replace Ellis Burks, White Sox GM Ron Schueler inked journeyman outfielder Darrin Jackson to a contract. D.J. would replace Burks just fine with 10 homers, 51 RBIs, seven stolen bases and a .312 average in the shortened 1994 season. He moved into the team’s broadcasting booth years later, first on TV, then radio.

 

Today in White Sox History: December 23

EIC fave: Memories of losing Chet Lemon were softened when Tim Raines came to the White Sox, making one particular fan rather ecstatic. (Baseball Digest)


1990
White Sox fans got an early Christmas gift as new GM Ron Schueler made one of his best deals, sending outfielder Ivan Calderon and pitcher Barry Jones to Montreal for All-Star left fielder and stolen base threat Tim Raines and pitcher Jeff Carter. Montreal first insisted on Melido Perez in the deal, but were talked down after Schueler made a trade for Cory Snyder, lessening Chicago’s outfield needs.

Raines would provide speed at the top of the order, swiping 143 bases in his five years with the Sox. He hit .444 in the 1993 ALCS against Toronto.

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 11

Fan club: There doesn’t seem to be a Sox fan alive who doesn’t adore Wimpy, including sometime partner Jason Benetti. Paciorek came to the White Sox on this day in 1981.


1973
In was one of the worst deals ever made by GM Roland Hemond, the White Sox acquired Cubs star Ron Santo after Santo refused a deal to the California Angels. Santo, who may have been able to be picked up on waivers, was acquired for three players, including pitcher Steve Stone.

Santo did very little in his one season with the White Sox and was considered a clubhouse cancer, tormenting some younger players, which raised the ire of Dick Allen. Santo’s White Sox highlight was probably the inside-the-park home run he hit on June 9, 1974 against Boston’s Bill Lee at Comiskey Park. Santo was also one of the few players who disliked playing under manager Chuck Tanner.


1975
Hemond sent third baseman Bill Melton and pitcher Steve Dunning to California for first baseman Jim Spencer and outfielder Morris Nettles. Melton had a bad back and had worn out his welcome with the team, getting into a shouting match in a Milwaukee hotel lobby with broadcaster Harry Caray.

Spencer, meanwhile would win a Gold Glove for his defensive prowess. He also had 18 home runs and 69 RBIs for the South Side Hit Men, twice driving in eight runs in a game in 1977.


1980
Edward DeBartolo was voted down by American League owners in his attempt to buy the White Sox from Bill Veeck. DeBartolo, the man who invented the modern shopping mall in Boardman, Ohio, owned horse racing tracks and wasn’t from the Chicago area — both considered “red flags” by the other owners.

In an effort to appease then commissioner Bowie Kuhn, DeBartolo agreed to live in Chicago at least 20% of the time to have a direct idea of what was going on with the franchise. His compromises fell on deaf ears, as he only received three yes votes. The way was then opened for the group headed by Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn to get the franchise.


1981
In another fine deal pulled off by Hemond, he sent shortstop Todd Cruz and outfielder Rod Allen to the Mariners for Tom “Wimpy” Paciorek. Tom made the All-Star team with the M’s in 1981 and would lead the Sox in hitting in 1983. He was also one of the craziest guys to ever do commercials for the club. After he retired, he worked in the Sox broadcasting booth from 1988 through 1999 and to this day does fill-in games for the club.


1996
After losing star pitcher Alex Fernandez to free agency and claiming that starting pitcher Kevin Tapani was faking an injury to his pitching hand (an injury so “fake” it forced Tapani to miss the first half of the 1997 season with the Cubs …), GM Ron Schueler signed pitcher Jaime Navarro to a four-year, $20 million deal. Navarro was a complete bust. His three-year record with the Sox was 25-43, and by many statistical measures he was the worst regular starting pitching in White Sox history.

Making matters worse was Schueler’s refusal to talk with the agents for Roger Clemens after Clemens had expressed an interest in joining the team, saying “Roger Clemens is over the hill.” During that same three-year period that Navarro was with the Sox, Clemens would win two Cy Young awards and 55 games.

Navarro eventually did do something positive for the franchise — he was part of a deal that brought José Valentín and Cal Eldred to the Sox in January 2000.