WHITE SOX ONE-HIT WONDERS

Ellis Burks, signed to a one-year contract 24 years ago Wednesday, is arguably the most impactful one-season player in White Sox history.

Burks, who had struggled with back injuries during the later stages of his career in Boston, turned in a stellar 1993 as the Sox primary right fielder.

Under the watchful eye of trainer Herm Schneider, Burks played in 146 games and hit .275 with 17 home runs and 74 RBIs in helping the Sox win the American League West.

Burks emerged as a team leader as the season wore on and was often seen sporting a “Go Hard or Go Home” t-shirt late in the year.

In the playoffs, Burks hit .304 with a homer and three RBIs as the Sox lost the American League Championship Series in six games.

He provided the Sox with one of the lasting moments in their history when he gloved the final out in the A.L. West Division-clinching victory over Seattle Sept. 27, 1993 at Comiskey Park.

Burks signed with Colorado after the season and played there until 1998. His big league career lasted until 2004.

In commemoration of Burks’ stellar 1993, here is my White Sox All-One Season team (only one season with the franchise):

Catcher, Charles Johnson (2000): One of the top backstops of his era, Johnson hit 10 home runs in just 44 games for the 2000 White Sox after being acquired from Baltimore (with Harold Baines) in a six-player exchange on July 31. Johnson, in the last year of his contract, hit .326 in the regular season in helping the Sox cement the Central Division title. The five-time Gold Glove winner signed with Florida after the season.

First base, Rudy York (1947): Acquired from the Boston Red Sox in June for World War II hero Jake Jones, York hit 15 home runs in 102 games for the White Sox. The 1943 A.L. home run and RBI champ and five-time All-Star was acquired because the Sox were desperate for power playing in cavernous Comiskey Park. He led the team in homers and was the only member of team to reach double digits in dingers that season. At age 34, he was released the following Februrary…. Honorable mention: Nick Swisher, 2008 (.219, 24 home runs).

Second base, Aaron Ward (1927): Between 1920 and 1925, Ward was the second baseman on three pennant winners and one World Series champion for the Yankees. In 1926, he was supplanted by the great Tony Lazzeri. A year later, he was traded to the Sox and watched his former team put together a season that every other season would be compared to until the end of time. Meanwhile, Ward assembled a solid campaign hitting .270 with a .360 on-base percentage while manning second base for manager Ray Schalk’s 70-83 Sox. The Sox put him on waivers and the Indians claimed him the following March.

Shortstop, Orlando Cabrera (2008): This guy was a winner and played every day. For the 2008 Central Division champion Sox, Cabrera batted .281 with 186 hits while playing in all but two of the team’s 163 games. Cabrera appeared in the postseason six times – including four years in a row – between 2004 and 2010. He was granted free agency after the season and signed with Oakland.

Third base, Kevin Youkilis (2012): Acquired from Boston on June 24, “Youk” couldn’t stop the collapse that cost the Sox the A.L. Central but he did provide a spark upon his arrival and some thrills. The homer off Jon Lester in Boston and the walkoff hit vs. Texas on July 4th were particularly memorable. Youkilis hit .236 with 15 homers in 80 games for the Sox. He signed with the Yankees for the 2013 season, which was his last. ATTENTION: In a matter of days, Todd Frazier could be manning this spot.

Left field, Steve Kemp (1982): In his free agent year, the left-handed hitting Kemp batted .286 with 19 home runs and 98 RBI after being acquired from the Detroit Tigers for Chet Lemon. Kemp did not re-sign with the White Sox but was never the same again.  

Center field, Ellis Burks (1993): Not his natural position, I put Burks in center because he HAS to be on this team. The heart and soul of the A.L. West champs, Burks played in 21 games (20 starts) in center field. Burks joined the Sox after spending the first six seasons of his career as a center fielder for Boston. Burks parlayed his one season with the Sox into a multi-year pact with Colorado where he became an offensive force. … NOTE: If you are looking for a true center fielder for this team Dummy Hoy, the game’s first deaf player, manned the position for the 1901 champion Sox in his only year with the team. Hoy hit .294 with a .407 on-base percentage while leading the A.L. with 86 walks and 14 hit-by-pitches.

Right field, Richie Zisk (1977): “The Polish Prince” rivals Julio Franco and Ellis Burks as the greatest “one-season only” player in franchise history with his performance for the “Southside Hitmen.” Immensely popular to this day with fans, Zisk electrified the city with 30 home runs (which included one center field bleacher blast and a roof shot) in leading the free-swinging Sox to 90 wins. SO WHAT IF IT COST THE SOX FORSTER AND GOSSAGE AND ZISK WALKED AFTER 1977? IT WAS A FUN SEASON!

Designated hitter, Julio Franco (1994): The ageless Dominican hit .319 with 20 home runs and 98 RBIs in just 112 games in the strike-shortened 1994 season for the Sox. With no end in sight to the work stoppage that cost the Major Leagues the World Series and possibly the Sox their first crown since 1917, Franco signed to play in Japan with Chiba Lotte for the 1995 season. While Franco did return to North America in 1996, he never again played for the Sox, where he remains a fan favorite.

Starting pitcher, Kevin Tapani (1996): The durable right-hander was 13-10 with a 4.59 ERA in 34 starts for the one of the best teams in franchise history to NOT make the playoffs. Working on a one-year contract, Tapani bolted for the other side of town following the season. … OTHER CANDIDATES: Orlando Hernandez (2005), Joe Cowley (1986), Doug Drabek (1997), Ed Durham (1933), Ned Garvin (1902), Marv Grissom (1952), Gerry Janeski (1970), Cal McLish (1961), Claude Osteen (1975).

Closer, Tom Gordon (2003): Billy Koch flamed out as the stopper in 2003 so Gordon “flashed” to the rescue with a team-leading 12 saves after signing a one-year pact as a free agent. The curveballing righty was also 7-6 with a 3.16 ERA while fanning an eye-popping 91 batters in 74 innings. After the season, Gordon signed a two-year deal with the Yankees.

YOUR THOUGHTS!

Who did I miss?
 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “WHITE SOX ONE-HIT WONDERS”

  1. I guess Oscar Gamble coming back for his last season cost him an easy spot on the list as his 1977 was amazing with 31 home runs and a batting average of almost .300

    Liked by 1 person

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