Chicago White Sox

The Chicago White Sox are a major league baseball team in the central division of the American League. They play at the U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago and were founded in 1901 as the Chicago White Stockings, forming one of the franchises that made up the American League when it was first established. In 2005 they won the World Series for the third time, 88 years after their last victory in 1917.

History

Origins

The Chicago White Sox are one of the teams that resulted from the formation of the American League in 1901. They started life as a minor Western League team, the Sioux City Cornhuskers, before the club was bought by Charles Comiskey in 1894 and moved to St. Paul’s.

They moved to Chicago when the American League was established, replacing a dropped National League club. Known as the Chicago White Stockings they defeated Cleveland 8-2 in the first American League game in 1901.

The club changed its name to the Chicago White Sox in 1903, after the Chicago Tribune printed the shortened name that had been used on a scorecard. The early club benefitted from great pitchers including Ed Walsh, who proved crucial in their 1906 World Series win. In 1910 the club moved to Comiskey Park, the ground that would become their permanent home.

Controversy

After promising beginnings, 1919 saw the club marked with controversy when they were beaten in the World Series by the Red Sox, despite being the favourites to win. A year later, eight players were charged over fixing the outcome of the Series, accused of accepting cash in exchange for fixing the results.

The event badly affected the club’s performance and in 1921 they dropped to seventh place, remaining an uncompetitive match for many years to come. Players, including Willie Hamm and Ted Lyons, showed glimpses of the potential within the club, however the curse of the 1919 events seemed set to follow them.

Unable to shake the suspicion, controversy surrounding the club rose again in 1922 when Charlie Robertson faced accusations that he had tampered with the ball when he hurled the only perfect game in White Sox history.

Recovery

It wasn’t until the 1930’s, when Jimmy Dykes took over as manager, that the club finally started to re-establish their status. Between 1934 and 1946 he built the club back up but it wasn’t until the 1950’s that the club regained their World Series standard.

It is a matter of opinion whether these years of unproductive performance were down to the curse of 1919, or bad managerial skills. At one stage the club almost succeeded in securing a potential major boost to their side, coming close to gaining star player, Babe Ruth. The New York Yankees, however, put an end to this venture, their offer far exceeding that which the White Sox could offer.

The Veeck Years

Comiskey died in 1931 but the club continued to be owned by his family until 1959 when a court battle gave ownership to a group headed by Bill Veeck. Veeck proved to be the new life the team needed and marked his entrance with the introduction of promotional stunts and schemes to draw in the crowds. His many ideas included introducing a midget player, Eddie Gaedall, to the side, putting players’ names on the back of their uniforms and installing exploding fireworks in the scoreboards to celebrate victories and home runs.

Popular with fans and players, Veeck helped the club restore their reputation, and with players such as Minnie Miñoso in the team, an All Star legend and the first black player in the league, the team’s credibility started to grow.

1959 saw the club returning to the standard of their early days, topping the American League and winning their first pennant in 40 years. Players including pitcher, Early Wynn, and Ted Kluszewski, led the team in the right direction, to the top of the American League. In celebration of their victory, aid raid sirens were set off across the city, an action that initially resulted in public fear rather than celebration, coming as it did in the midst of the Cold War.

Having reached the World Series it was disappointing that the White Sox were unable to give the final push they needed to take the title, losing out to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 1961 Veeck was forced to sell the team to brothers, Arthur and John Allyn, due to health problems, bringing an end to some of the spectacular promotional performances.

The following years saw the club unable to shift the runner up label, and between 1957 and 1965 the club ended up in second place on a further five occasions. 1964 almost broke the pattern when the club won their last nine games in a row and played an outstanding season; however the New York Yankees put an end to the dream.

Relocation

The late 1960’s almost saw the relocation of the White Sox when Bug Selig, previously connected to the Milwaukee Braves, looked to move the team to Milwaukee to replace his recently relocated side. An agreement was made with the Allyn brothers to host nine home games in Milwaukee to attract fans and the potential of expanding the franchise, a venture that proved extremely successful. In 1968 Milwaukee fans made up a third of all attendance at White Sox games.

In 1969 the number of games played at Milwaukee was expanded to 11. Selig, who had been denied a franchise expansion, looked instead to buy an existing club, and with the White Sox success at Milwaukee they seemed an ideal target. The American League stepped in to block the move, despite a supposed agreement between Arthur Allyn and Selig. As a consequence, Arthur sold his shares to his brother, who was happy to remain in Chicago and keep the future of the team secure.

In 1975 a move by Selig, seeing the Seattle Pilots move to Milwaukee, resulted in the Chicago team relocating to Seattle. The move was brief, however, as Selig’s intentions to reshuffle the teams and move Oakland Athletic to Chicago, became apparent. These plans collapsed as the White Sox were sold to previous owner, Bill Veeck.

The Return of Veeck

Bill Veeck was faced with the task of bringing the team back to the standard they had been under his previous ownership, a challenge which proved to be a slow one with the 1976 team turning out to be the worst the club had played. The introduction of retro uniforms and shorts did little to add credibility.

It wasn’t long though before things turned around and 1977 brought a season to be remembered, with the team taking 192 home runs, breaking a club record. Early in the season they even topped the leader board, although they eventually finished 12 games behind the winners, Royals.

The following three years saw the club struggle, losing 90 games in 1978 followed by 87 and 90 losses in the next two years. Veeck added Harold Baines and Britt Burns to the struggling team but, with the free agent market making things difficult, the club were in need of new ownership.

Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn were the men to step in as part of the new ownership group, and through gaining Carlton Fix from the Red Sox, a World Series winner, they made their dedication to the club clear. They also retained young manager, Tony La Russa, and launched a contest to design a new uniform for the club, the winning design bringing a red, white and blue look to the club.

Glimpse of Glory

1983 saw the club back on form and, under young manager, Tony La Russa, they challenged all expectations by winning the American League Western Division by 20 games. La Russa deservedly won the Manager of the Year Award, taking the team to their first playoffs since 1959. They struggled to maintain this play in the further stages of the competition, losing to Baltimore Orioles in the postseason play offs. Unable to match this performance again, La Russa was fired in 1986, after the club failed to start the season hopefully.

The late 1980’s saw the club’s position in Chicago yet again in question, as the franchise looked to locate to Tampa Bay. This move was not well received by the public and lobbying of the Illinois governor resulted in a vote going in favour of public spending for a new stadium to be built. The New Comiskey Park, later renamed U.S. Cellular Field, opened in 1991 to good reviews. The first game in the new stadium drew 2,934,154 fans, a Chicago baseball team attendance record.

The 1990’s

Bobby Thigpen, Alex Fernandez and Frank Thomas all brought new talent to the 1990 team and the club started to show what they could achieve, winning 94 games that season. 1990 also saw the start of the Turn Back the Clock games which became a regular promotional event. Facing the Milwaukee Brewers, the White Sox appeared for the game wearing their retro 1917 uniforms.

In 1993 the team had a chance to shine again, reaching the American league Championship Series. They played well throughout the divisional games, with star players, including Roberto Hernández and Bo Jackson, helping them win the West Division. World Series hopes were dashed in the next stage, losing to the Toronto Blue Jays in the Championship Series.

A promising start the following year was cut short with the 1994 players’ strike. As major league players ceased playing, the White Sox were in first place.

A New Century, a New Start

2000 began with Chicago producing one of the strongest sides in years. Postseason games proved their downfall yet again, however, and despite setting new club records for hits and runs scored, they missed out to the Seattle Mariners in the Division Series.

For the next five years, the team failed to reach that stage again in the competition, and injuries resulting in the loss of players, Frank Thomas and Magglio Ordonez, brought the side down.

2005 was the year the club fought back, putting an end to all the years of disappointing performances and second places. A new marketing campaign promoted the club’s new playing style, with the creation of what become known as ‘The Grinder Rules’, rules made up by the club to alert fans’ attention to the changes they had made. The first rule ‘Win or die trying!’ was to become the club’s motto that year.

In a true comeback performance the club shot straight to the top of their division, winning by six games, and marking their first division win since 2000. This was followed by an outstanding performance in the Championship Series where they faced the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Their second game caused controversy when White Sox A.J. Pierzynski ran to first base after missing his pitch, unsure whether Josh Paul, catcher for the Angels, had caught the ball legally. The umpire ruled in favour of Pierzynski, despite protests from the Angels. The decision gave other players the chance to make their move and led to a 2-1 win for the White Sox.

Three more successes gave the club their first American League win since 1959, their four consecutive wins being the first in the Championship Series since the Yankees achieved the same feat in 1928.

Champions

The World Series was now within the club’s grasp, and Houston Astros didn’t have a chance as the White Sox showed what they were made of, coming away victorious with a four game clean sweep.

The second game again saw controversy over whether Jermaine Dye had been hit by a pitch. While the umpire ruled he had, granting Dye a move to first base, the Astros argued against the decision. They were later backed up by TV replay footage.

With Dye able to move to first, Paul Konerko came on to bat, an impressive grand slam helping to lead the White Sox to eventual victory. Going on to take two more wins, game three seeing the longest ever World Series game in terms of time, the World Series belonged to the White Sox. Deservedly Ozzie Guillen was awarded Manager of the Year in the American League.

From Then On

2006 saw the club struggle to match the play of previous years losing 15 games at the beginning of September and losing the opportunity to enter the play offs and defend their position. They eventually finished third in the central league, although some success came in their inter league series against their town rivals, Chicago Cubs. In terms of attendance, the club had never been more popular, breaking club records with 52 sellouts and 75 crowds which exceeded 30,000.

Ozzie Guillen became the first White Sox manager since 1960 to lead the AL All-Star squad in 2006, with a team that included six White Sox players, including Mark Buehrle and Bobby Jenks.

Many transfers occurred in the following off-season period, some causing upset among fans, such as the transfer of Brandon McCarthy and David Paisano for better pitchers, including Nick Masset and John Danks. McCarthy and Paisano were both potential star players and the decision was criticised for removing currently good performers.

2007 was marked by injury, with newly signed Toby Hall dislocating his shoulder, and Scott Podsednik being placed on the injury list. They finished the season fourth in the division. However, highlights included Bobby Jenks scoring 41 consecutive batters retired, tying with the record of Jim Barr. Jim Thome also scored his 500th home run.

2008 Projected Lineup/Rotation

CF: Jerry Owens
SS: Orlando Cabrera
DH: Jim Thome
1B: Paul Konerko
RF: Jermaine Dye
LF: Nick Swisher
C: A.J. Pierzynski
3B: Josh Fields
2B: Danny Richar

SP: Mark Buehrle
SP: Javier Vasquez
SP: John Danks
SP: Jose Contreras
SP: Gavin Floyd

CL: Bobby Jenks