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Chicago White Sox Baseball Franchise History Reference
The White Sox were born at the same time as the American League, back in 1900 and have called Chicago home since then. The team had some professional experience under their belt prior to occupying a spot in the American League but it didn’t have an affiliation with the Major Leagues. The franchise hasn’t always had winning ways on the field but nobody can be a contender for over a century.
Originally they were called the White Stockings (can you imagine grown men playing for a team that has stockings in its name?) but they adopted the White Sox name when a local paper began shortening it on headlines.
The team has received some free advertising lately with President Barack Obama wearing their cap once in a while and making references to them as his favorite team, being a Chicago native. Of course, being a politician, he might not be telling the truth but in this case I think he is.
The team calls the Central Division home and they have won the division there three times since the divisions were adjusted back in 1994. Prior to the changes they won the West Division two times in 1983 and 1993.
For many baseball history fans this franchise is probably more widely known for one of the biggest scandals the game has seen. Sure steroids and performance enhancing drugs (PED’S) have taken a toll on the game but when players throw games the overall integrity of the game comes into question. This is what occurred back in 1919 and was labeled the “Black Sox Scandal”, more on that in a little bit.
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The team is working on getting back to the World Series, just like all the teams excluding the previous winner. Their last World Series title was won in 2005 and it ended a lengthy drought of almost ninety years. For some reason this drought didn’t receive as much publicity as the shorter one in Boston or the other one in Chicago with the Cubs. I can only assume that this was because these other two teams seen to have a larger presence in the sport and the White Sox’s shortcomings weren’t as interesting to the rest of the country?
After their 2005 victory the team was able to win the division again in 2008 but was knocked out of the League Championship and hasn’t been able to get back into the postseason yet.
Not every former Major League player can return and manage a big league squad. Historically the best players to take the leap to managing, and actually be good at it, were former catchers. Catchers have to have a general understanding of what pitches to call, and when, during the course of the game and that seems to be a huge advantage for them if they elect to become managers later. This team has a manager that is trying to go against the current on history here because he was a third baseman in his playing days. Personally I think Robin Ventura will be successful as a manager. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders and I think earns the respect of his players, a big bonus for any team; it probably doesn’t hurt that he played for them during his career too.
For the organization having a soft spoken man running the team on the field has to be a little bit of a breath of fresh air from their previous manager Ozzie Guillen. Guillen was at the wheel when they won in 2005 and 2008 but he had a temper that could get his mouth in trouble. He had made questionable comments about his players and it rubbed some people the wrong way. I don’t think the team will have similar issues with Ventura.
The 2000’s brought the two winning seasons previously mentioned but also some history to the team too. Pitching a perfect game is one of the hardest things in baseball to accomplish. Not only does the pitcher have to be on their game but so do the fielders behind them. A perfect game means that every hitter has been retired. No hits, walks, errors, etc. equaling no base runners reaching base safely.
While pitching for the team in 2009 lefty Mark Buehrle recorded only the eighteenth perfect game in Major League history. A couple of thousand games are played every year which provides an average of one perfect game thrown approximately every six seasons shows how difficult it is. Buehrle also recorded a no hitter during the 2007 campaign.
Not to be outdone a lesser known pitcher named Philip Humber threw a perfect game for the team in April of 2012 which tallied the third one for the franchise.
In the 1990’s the team started to reap the benefits of a few players becoming solid contributors on the field. This era brought Ventura to the masses in baseball as well as dominant closer Bobby Thigpen and a man who enjoyed putting a “Big Hurt” on the ball, Frank Thomas. This squad, with the contributions of athlete extraordinaire Bo Jackson, made it to the postseason in 1993 before being eliminated in the league championship series. They tried to duplicate their success in 1994 but the infamous strike canceled the back end of the season, including the postseason, and the team never got a chance to see if they could improve on their 1993 effort.
The eighties only brought some minor success in 1983 and it was short lived.
To find additional accomplishments for the franchise you will have to rewind back to the fifties, specifically 1959. The 1959 season brought a World Series appearance to the team but they fell short in six games.
It wasn’t that the team was bad but they just couldn’t get past the machine called the New York Yankees. Back then there was no wild card so if you didn’t win your division you missed the postseason, this bit the franchise many times over; however the 1970’s weren’t too kind to them.
From the 1920’s to the late 1950’s the team enjoyed sporadic success and weren’t able to go all of the way with the players that they had.
In 1919 one of the biggest controversies rocked baseball when reports came out that one of the best white Sox players, ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson was involved in throwing the series. Apparently there was a bunch of money being bet on their opponent, and the underdog Cincinnati Reds, winning the series. This incident is recognized as being the Black Sox Scandal, an obvious dig at their team name not representing something pure anymore.
Even with all of the rumors floating around the investigation didn’t yield any results until the following year in 1920. A total of nine players were caught up in the scandal and confessions of their guilt were documented. During the trial the signed conventions were lost/stolen/misplaced or whatever and without this convicting evidence the case fell apart with acquittals being issued to the accused. In an effort to protect the integrity of the game all of the accused were banned from baseball for life.
A lifetime ban might sound severe but a professional sport relies heavily on its integrity. If there is evidence bringing that integrity into question the league should absolutely act quickly and swiftly. Other professional sports here in the USA have had similar questions come up because of statements made by their officials; having your fans question if the games that they are seeing are fixed is not a positive way to run a league.
In 1917 the team won their second World Series title, which might have added to the pain from the later scandal because the team was highly competitive and set for multiple championship runs.
The team also won the league pennant in 1901 and 1906 with the 1906 team winning the franchise’s first World Series title.
Any fan of the game knows that the game is played differently than it was in the last decade and these differences are magnified when compared to the game seventy-five or even one-hundred years ago. A perfect example of this was a pitcher the team had named Ed Walsh whose career ended right before their 1917 championship. Walsh was a pitcher who racked up an insane amount of innings pitched, especially when compared to our game now. Pitchers are watched very closely; especially when they cross the two-hundred innings pitched plateau. In comparison Walsh would typically eclipse four-hundred innings each season; this is a number that will never again be passed.
Black Sox Scandal
Unlike their neighbors to the North, the Chicago Cubs, this franchise hasn’t had the benefit of a bunch of great players play for them. Sure they have had some very good players as part of the team but the Cubs have them beat on great ones. One thing the White Sox can brag is about is that they have more World Series titles, in less professional seasons too.
The biggest name they have had recently is probably Thomas. He was nicknamed The Big Hurt because of his physical stature (he was 6’-5” tall and weighed about 240 pounds) to describe the power that he managed to transfer to a batted ball. Another prolific hitter was Harold Baines. Baines had a sweet and smooth swing from the left side of the plate and was always a tough out for pitchers. Even though the team has retired Baines’ number he has worn it, post retirement, when he has been a coach for the team.
The club has also retired catcher Carlton Fisk’s number, even though he elected to go into the Hall of Fame as a member of the Boston Red Sox.
Lately the team has been anchored by first baseman Paul Konerko and catcher A.J. Pierzynski who were major players on their 2005 championship team; both men are getting to the back end of their careers.
Before the club called Chicago they played in St. Paul, Minnesota and Sioux City, Iowa. Both cities housed the team while they were still considered a minor league team.
US Cellular Field
Fields get new naming rights all of the time, depending on which companies want to fork over the most money to have their names on the outside walls of the facility. The ballpark is called U.S. Cellular field, and has since 2003, but before that it was known as Comiskey Park (after their initial owner Charles Comiskey) from its original opening in 1991. The longest field they called home was the original Comiskey Park from 1910 – 1990 even though they played in Wisconsin at Milwaukee County Stadium in 1968 & 1969.
World Series Winners
The organization has three world titles to it's name with the most recent one occurring in 2005. Before that championship the team had a lengthy drought all of the way back to 1917. Their first title was won in 1906.
Hall of Fame
Ten different individuals are in Cooperstown with White Sox representation but they have long been retired from their playing days. The gentlemen are Luis Aparicio, Luke Appling, Eddie Collins, Charles Comiskey, Red Faber, Nellie Fox, Ted Lyons, Ray Schalk, Bill Veeck and Ed Walsh.