On this date (Dec. 20) in 1990, the White Sox added to their great legacy of knuckleballers by signing veteran right-hander Charlie Hough.
To commemorate the anniversary of the acquisition, here’s a look at one man’s list of the top knuckleballers in White Sox history.
1. Ted Lyons: The Hall of Famer knuckled his way to a franchise record 260 wins during a 20-year career. If the team had been any good during Lyons’ tenure, he may have won 320 games! … “Babe Ruth came out to the park,“ Luke Appling said in Lyons’ Chicago Tribune obituary of 1986. “The Babe came down to the rail and called Ted over and said to him: `I just want to tell you I didn`t come out to see the Yankees play. I came out to see you pitch.` I heard him say that. I was standing right there.“
2. Wilbur Wood: The left-hander used his knuckleball to become a three-time All-Star, a four-time 20-game winner and of the best relievers and starters in team history. So durable was the portly Wood, he led the A.L. in appearances in each season between 1968 and 1970 and then started at least 42 games in each of the five campaigns. Retire 28!
3. Hoyt Wilhelm: In six years with the White Sox in the 1960s, the Hall of Famer knuckled his way to a 1.92 ERA in 361 appearances. Yes, you read that right … 1.92!
4. Ed Cicotte: Dubbed “Knuckles” as the inventor of the pitch, the right-hander dominated the league with the Sox until …
5. Eddie Fisher: The righty used his knuckleball to post a club record 82 outings with 15 relief seasons during his All-Star season of 1965.
6. Charlie Hough: Hawaiian sopped up some valuable innings while pitching competently in 1991 and 1992. His shutout on Aug. 4, 1991, which spoiled the big league debut of Mike Mussina, was the last by a Sox knuckleballer thanks to a Frank Thomas homer.
7. Paul LaPalme: Lefty compiled a 2.83 ERA in 64 relief outings in closing out his seven-year career with the Sox in 1956 and 1957.
8. Early Wynn: Hall of Famer, who played for the Sox from 1958 to 1962, dabbled with the pitch especially early in his career.
9. Charlie Haeger: The franchise’s last knuckleballer went 1-1 with a 3.44 ERA in seven appearances for the 2006 Sox. After a 7.15 ERA in eight outings in 2007, Haeger was claimed by the Padres on waivers in 2008.
And don’t forget … Alexei Ramirez used a knuckler during his scoreless inning of Sept. 15, 2015 in the White Sox 17-6 loss to Oakland at U.S. Cellular Field.