I have tweaked this post on various sites around Christmas but with today’s anniversary, July,” I’d thought I’d reprise it …
The only player in Major League history with the last name Christmas played 12 of his 24 big league games with the 1986 White Sox.
Catcher Steve Christmas hit .364 with a double, a clutch home run and four RBIs in his time with the White Sox.
The Sox “Christmas Story” began on Nov. 21, 1983 when the left-handed hitter was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for infield prospect Fran Mullins.
Christmas, who hit .059 in nine games with 1983 Reds, was a non-roster invitee to spring training in Sarasota, Fla., but began 1984 at the White Sox Triple-A affiliate at Denver where his teammates included Jerry Manuel, Ron Karkovice, Tim Hulett, Daryl Boston, Joel Skinner and Larry Rothschild.
Christmas’ first stint with the Sox came from June 12 to June 22. The native of Orlando, Fla., was brought to Chicago when Carlton Fisk went on the disabled list.
Christmas didn’t see any time behind the plate as the Sox went with the highly-touted Skinner in Fisk’s absence. Christmas’ first action with the Sox finally came on June 14 when he grounded out as a pinch-hitter for Jerry Dybzinski.
Two days later, Christmas delivered a pinch-RBI single in the ninth inning of a 6-4 loss at Oakland. Christmas was hitting for Scott Fletcher and got his hit off of Oakland closer Bill Caudill.
In his next appearance, Christmas came through again, this time notching a one-out pinch-double off future Sox “gas can” Mike Stanton in the ninth inning of an 8-2 loss at Seattle June 19.
Christmas was returned to Denver after the White Sox 8-6 win over the Twins June 22 in Minnesota. Christmas finished the season at Denver where he helped the Bears earn a spot in the American Association playoffs. Denver upset the Cubs’ Iowa affiliate in five games in the semifinal round before bowing to Louisville in five games in the championship series.
Christmas, who shared time behind the plate with Skinner, Karkovice and Jamie Quirk, hit .278 with four homers and 29 RBIs during the regular season for Denver.
He returned to the White Sox for the rest of the season in early September.
Christmas made his Comiskey Park debut in a 5-4 loss to Oakland on Sept. 5, 1984 when he was retired for the second out pinch-hitting for Vance Law in the ninth.
After another unsuccessful pinch-hitting appearance Sept. 8, 1984 against the Angels at Comiskey Park, Christmas made his lone defensive appearance with the Sox. On Sept. 16, 1984 in Anaheim, Christmas entered the game in the eighth inning at catcher. He played one inning in the 4-2 setback, catching Richard Dotson and could not throw out Gary Pettis trying to steal.
The next time Christmas took the field he made things merry for the Sox.
31 years ago today, on Sept. 19, 1984, Christmas, pinch-hitting for Marc “The Booter” Hill, launched a three-run pinch-homer in the seventh inning to break a 3-3 tie in a 7-3 win at Minnesota.
The blast, which victimized the team that drafted and signed Christmas, came off Mike Smithson with Greg Walker and Dybzinski on base as the defending American League West champs barely stayed alive in the division race (nine games back with 11 to play).
The next day, Christmas posted what turned out to be his final hit with the Sox.
He led off the 13th with a single off Ron Davis batting for Hill and was then lifted for pinch-runner Rudy Law. The Sox couldn’t parlay Christmas’ last gift to the Sox into a run and wound up losing 5-4 to the Twins in the next inning.
That hit peaked Christmas’ average and on-base percentage at a whopping .571 and placed his slugging percentage at a more-than-robust 1.143.
From there, Christmas went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts to close out his Sox career.
Christmas first time ended for the Sox on Dec. 10 when they released him. A little more than a month later, it was Christmastime again for the Sox as they signed him with a free agent.
Christmas received another non-roster invitee to spring training but he did not make the club nor did he appear with the Sox during the 1985 season. Christmas spent 1985 at the Sox Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo where he manned third base and appeared some at designated hitter.
Playing for John Boles, who would later manage the Flordia Marlins, Christmas finished fourth in the American Association with a .298 average while finishing second on the Bisons to Joe DeSa (17) with 16 home runs.
Following the season, Christmas was granted free agency and signed with the Cubs thus closing the book on the Sox “Christmas Story.”