Monday, December 11, 2017

Short Term Stops: The All-White Sox Team


As a young Cubs fan, I had it conditioned into me from countless different sources that I should hate the White Sox.

And, for a good part of my youth, I did. I actively rooted against the South Siders for many years until something clicked -- right around the time the Sox traded for Scott Podsednik, one of my favorite players at the time -- and I realized how strange it was that I craved the misfortunes of a team from my very own hometown.

While it's largely frowned upon where I live, I'll admit that I'm a fan of both Chicago clubs these days. And though I still prefer the Cubs, I still want the Sox to be successful too, because the city is at its greatest when both of its baseball teams are near the top of the standings.

Like the Cubs, the White Sox have managed to build a stellar Short Term Stops roster over the years --  I've been looking forward to writing this post for a long time now, and it's a pleasure to finally bring it to you.



Pitchers

1961 Fleer #74 Red Ruffing

Red Ruffing (1947 White Sox, 9 games, sunset season)

I didn't know this card existed until I found it at a card show just this summer -- it's the only one I've ever seen to document Red Ruffing's brief stint in Chicago.

Ruffing spent most of his Hall of Fame career with the Yankees before winding up with the '47 White Sox at the ripe age of 42. He pitched all of nine games with the South Siders, going 3-5 with a 6.11 ERA before being released and subsequently retiring from the game.

Kudos to Fleer for showcasing a stint that could've easily been lost to history.



1983 Topps #693 Sparky Lyle

Sparky Lyle (1982 White Sox, 11 games, half-year stint, sunset season)

Purchased by the Sox from the Phillies late in the '82 season, Sparky Lyle's blink-and-you'll-miss-it stint with the White Sox saw him post an even 3.00 ERA in 11 relief appearances.

Topps came to the rescue by being the only company to include Sparky Lyle in their 1983 checklist, thus granting him his only card with the White Sox and a true ride into the sunset.



1987 Donruss #617 Steve Carlton

Steve Carlton (1986 White Sox, 10 games, third-of-a-year stint)

The last few years of Steve Carlton's career were basically one big Short Term Stop.

After having been released by the Phillies and Giants during the course of the 1986 season, Lefty latched on with the White Sox to close his whirlwind of a year. Carlton finished out the string by going 4-3 with a 3.69 in 10 starts with the South Siders. 

Though brief, my dad has told me in the past that Lefty's brief stay with the Sox was actually kind of a big deal in Chicago at the time -- as is the power a future Hall of Famer can have on a city, no matter how washed up he is.



Catcher

2015 Topps Update #US-228 Geovany Soto

Geovany Soto (2015, '17 White Sox, 91 games)

A one-time NL ROY with the Cubs, Geovany Soto's two separate stints with the Sox have been underwhelming -- he's hit a combined .214 across 91 games -- and I completely forgot he spent 13 forgettable games on the South Side just this past season.

Though Soto's tenure with the White Sox has been dubious (at most), his lone card with the club is definitely anything but.



First Base

1960 Topps #505 Ted Kluszewski

Ted Kluszewski (1959-60 White Sox, 112 games)

Ted Kluszewski brought his big bat and bulging biceps to the South Side for parts of a couple seasons late in his career.

Though he was surely a hulking presence on the famous '59 "Go-Go Sox" club, there wasn't much left in the tank for Klu at that point: he hit just seven homers in 112 total games with the White Sox before the Angels grabbed him in the 1961 expansion draft.

Klu is also notable for being responsible for one of the greatest cards I have yet to add to my collection.



Second Base

2012 Panini Triple Play #69 Orlando Hudson

Orlando Hudson (2012 White Sox, 51 games, half-year stint, sunset season)

Kind of a weird one here, but at the end of the day, this comic-bookish cartoon is the only card I own of Orlando Hudson with the White Sox. 

Nobody except Panini chose to take note of Hudson's move to Chicago in 2012, where he'd hit a paltry .197 in what would turn out to be the final 51 games of his career.

I still have a soft spot for these wacky Triple Play cards, and their recognition of this key Short Term Stop is no small part of that.



Shortstop

1978 Topps #672 Don Kessinger

Don Kessinger (1977-79 White Sox, 226 games, sunset season in '79)

I have shortstops in my binder who had quicker stints with the White Sox, but none of them look half as strange in the uniform than Don Kessinger -- a man who spent the bulk of his career on the North Side of town.

Traded to the Sox by the Cardinals in 1977, Kessinger would finish his career on the South Side, even becoming one of a dying breed of player-managers with the club in 1979, his sunset season.

But to me, Don Kessinger in those strange, collared '70s White Sox jerseys has never looked right, and I suppose a lot of that has to do with the fact that he's so ingrained in my mind as a Cub.



Third Base

1975 Topps #35 Ron Santo

Ron Santo (1974 White Sox, 117 games, sunset season)

What we have here is a baseball card that might as well exist in a dystopian sci-fi universe: Ron Santo in a White Sox jersey.

Nothing about this is right. The red '70s Sox cap, the "3B-2B" position listing (Ron Santo? 2B?!), nothing. But facts are facts: Santo did indeed spend the final season of his career with the rival South Siders in 1974, hitting just .221 in 117 games before calling it quits. 

If you're talking Short Term Stops, this is one of the all-timers.



Outfield

1986 Fleer Update #U-15 Bobby Bonilla

Bobby Bonilla (1986 White Sox, 75 games, half-year stint)

In an inexplicable move, the White Sox let broadcaster Hawk Harrelson basically run the team in 1986, promoting him to the club's GM.

In an even more inexplicable move, one of Hawk's first orders of business was to trade prospect Bobby Bonilla to the Pirates for Jose DeLeon, a pitcher who'd be gone from Chicago less than two years later. Bonilla, of course, became a star with the Pirates and would enjoy a long and successful career.

It feels strange to even have to say this, but: for goodness sake, don't let announcers run your baseball teams, especially if that announcer is Hawk Harrelson. 



2008 Upper Deck Timeline #17 Ken Griffey Jr.

Ken Griffey Jr. (2008 White Sox, 41 games, half-year stint)

Ken Griffey Jr. is kind of like the Steve Carlton of my generation: a future-HOFer who made a brief, unspectacular stop with the White Sox near the end of his career.

I remember it being big news when the playoff-bound Sox acquired Griffey at the 2008 trade deadline. While it produced one of my personal favorite hometown Short Term Stops, The Kid didn't leave much of an impact in Chicago, hitting just three of his 630 career homers in 41 games on the South Side.

Still, I'm proud to say that Ken Griffey Jr. -- perhaps the greatest player of my baseball lifetime -- was, for a brief, glorious moment, a member of the Chicago White Sox.



2012 Topps #342 Kosuke Fukudome

Kosuke Fukudome (2012 White Sox, 24 games, sunset season)

As Don Kessinger and Ron Santo have showed us, unfamiliar stints are made more unfamiliar if a player established on one side of the city briefly jumps to the other.

Such is the case with Kosuke Fukudome, who was, for better or worse, a fixture in my adolescent Cubs fandom. Fukudome's short and not-at-all-spectacular American career came to an end with a 24-game stint with the 2012 White Sox that I have absolutely no memory of. He was released by the Sox barely two months into the season and returned to his native Japan (where he's still playing at the age of 40).

Again, it's a good thing Topps was there to remember Fukudome's wildly unfamiliar stint with the White Sox, because I sure don't.



Designated Hitter

1996 Collector's Choice #98 John Kruk

John Kruk (1995 White Sox, 45 games, sunset season)

Before I wrote this post, I don't think I'd realized just how often the White Sox had been home to the dying breath of once-great careers.

John Kruk is pretty much the epitome of this syndrome. Kruk's lone season with the Sox actually wasn't bad --  he hit .308 in 45 games with the club -- but injuries and a battle with testicular cancer a couple years prior had pretty much decimated his career by that point. 

Though I'm sure few fans have any memories of John Kruk's time with the White Sox, he's definitely a cornerstone of this roster.

That just about does it for this edition of "Short Term Stops."

Thanks for tuning in.

7 comments:

shlabotnikreport said...

As usual, a whole lotta fun!

For me the Griffey card is the most jarring, I guess because I'd completely forgotten about his time on the South Side.

Y'know... Since I grew up in the 1970's, almost anything from that decade is good in my eyes. Rainbow Astros jerseys? Awesome! Powder blue road unis? Not a problem. Front panel on a cap in a contrasting color? Good stuff.

...But those "leisure suit" White Sox unis like Don Kessinger is wearing are a major exception. Awful then, awful now.

Chris said...

What..no Manny Ramirez?

JediJeff said...

"I'll admit that I'm a fan of both Chicago clubs these days"

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! You, I and ever single Chicago ball club fan knows that is BS, Nick. If you claim you love both, you are a Cubs fan. It's ok - we don't need you to even like the Sox. Just be honest with yourself.

Fuji said...

Maybe it's b/c I'm a big Lefty fan... or maybe it's b/c I broke a ton of 1987 products. Whatever the case, I'll never forget his brief stint in Chicago.

Bru said...

If I recall correctly, Kruk’s last game was one in which he got a single, raised his average above .300, and then walked into the clubhouse at the inning break. That was enough for him.

Brett Alan said...

Love this series!

This feels a bit incomplete without Cleon Jones, who latched on the the ChiSox for 12 games in 1976 after spending his entire career before that with my Mets. Sadly, though, in 1976 short term stops didn't get baseball cards. (Actually, with Update not being update this year, it could happen again, although things like Topps Now picked up some of the slack.) There is absolutely no cardboard of Jones as a White Sox (White Sock?), which leaves him out of my Mets in other uniforms virtual Frankenset. (So if someone could go ahead and quickly issue a card of Jones with Chicago, that'd be great. Preferably card number 675.)

With Jerry Koosman there just a little too long, that leaves the Mets presence a bit lacking here. Bonilla doesn't cut it. B^)

Mike said...

Man,that Kruk card is great!!
"We're not athletes..we're baseball players!"