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COUNTDOWN TO WHITE SOX OPENING DAY: 73 DAYS

73 days to Opening Day, White Sox fans!

Chet Lemon is the only player in White Sox history with exactly 73 home runs.

Here are some Lemon drops on the homers he hit with the Sox … @soxnerd style:

*Lemon hit the 5,000th home run in Sox history on Sept. 2, 1981 off the Tigers Jerry Ujdur at Comiskey Park

*Lemon’s 450-foot blast on May 4, 1977 was the first home run to land in the fountains in Kansas City’s Kaufman Stadium in a 6-3 Sox win. … The Sox Matt Davidson celebrated the 40th anniversary of that homer with a 483-foot shot of his own into the drink.

*Lemon’s first homer was a two-run shot off Frank Tanana on May 17, 1976 that pulled the Sox to within 10-2 in a 10-5 loss to the Angels before 4,567 at Comiskey Park. … Bill Stein was on base in the eighth inning

*The homer was the first of a personal-best six he would club off Tanana

*Lemon hit 40 homers at Comiskey Park (tied with Jorge Orta for 18th all-time. … 37 of those dingers came with the Sox.

*Lemon’s first home run at Comiskey Park not in a Sox uniform was the only one hit by the Tigers in Jack Morris’ no-hitter on April 7, 1984 at Comiskey Park

*Lemon’s second career homer was his only game-starting shot. On July 15, 1976, leadoff man Lemon sent Jim Slaton’s second pitch into the seats in a 5-3 win over Milwaukee in 10 innings before 13,982 at Comiskey Park

*Lemon hit 71 of his Sox homers as a center fielder and two as a designated hitter.

*Lemon’s 19 homers were the fifth-highest output by a Sox centerfielder at the time (still ranks seventh)

*Lemon’s last Sox home run came on Oct. 2, 1981 off Pete Redfern in a 3-2 loss to the Twins at Comiskey Park

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COUNTDOWN TO WHITE SOX OPENING DAY: 82 DAYS

82 days to Opening Day, White Sox fans!

The 82nd 1-0 win in White Sox history was one of just two that featured a ninth-inning home run.

The heroes in those games were Eddie Collins and Daniel Palka.

On July 12, 1920 in Philadelphia, Collins broke up a scoreless duel with an inside-the-park home run to lead off the ninth.

The dinger (a vicious line drive to right, according to the next day’s game story in the Chicago Tribune) made a winner out of “Little” (also in the Tribune) Dickie Kerr, who threw six no-hit innings in the complete game effort.

The next time the Sox would win a 1-0 game on a homer in the ninth was courtesy of Palka on Aug. 10, 2018 vs. Cleveland.

On that Friday night a Guaranteed Rate Field, Palka’s leadoff blast off Cody Allen provided the Sox with one of their best wins of the season.

COUNTDOWN TO WHITE SOX 2019 OPENING DAY: 99 DAYS

99 days until White Sox Opening Day!

Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm knuckled his way to 99 saves during his career with the White Sox from 1963 to 1968.

Here’s some more information on Wilhelm …

*White Sox Team of the Century member used his trademark knuckleball to go 41-33 with a 1.92 ERA and 99 saves in 361 appearances from 1963 to 1968

*The Hall of Fame knuckleballer broke Cy Young’s record by appearing in his 907th game in the White Sox 2-1 loss to Oakland on July 24, 1968 at Comiskey Park

*The 1985 Hall of Fame inductee posted a sub-2.00 ERA in each season with the White Sox from 1964 to 1968

*The knuckleball specialist ended his White Sox career as the franchise’s leader with 99 saves – a record he would hold until Bobby Thigpen surpassed him on May 11, 1990

*The 1985 Hall of Fame inductee logged a career-high 73 appearances,12 relief wins, a 1.99 ERA, 27 saves and a 19th place finish in the A.L. MVP voting for the 1964 White Sox

*HOYT WILHELM FUN FACT: The ageless knuckleballer had some of the best years of his Hall of Fame career pitching for the White Sox between the ages of 41 and 46.

JOE MAUER AND THE SOX!

Joe Mauer, the first batter Michael Kopech ever faced and one of the greatest Minnesota Twins ever, has retired.

I’m sure I speak for White Sox fans everywhere when I say (with nothing but respect) … GOOD! YOU SHOULD HAVE DONE THIS YEARS AGO!

With that out of my system, here’s a look at Mauer … @soxnerd style!

*WELCOME TO THE WORLD: Mauer was born early (April 19) in the White Sox “Winning Ugly” campaign of 1983. … On that day, Greg Luzinski hit two homers and drove in five the Sox 13-5 win over the Yankees at Comiskey Park.

*HE’S NO. 1: The Twins made Mauer the top overall pick of the 2001 draft. … The Sox first round pick that year was high school pitcher Kris Honel, who never played in the bigs. The only Sox draftees that year who played for the team were Chris Stewart, Charlie Haeger and Andy Gonzalez

*CAREER VS. SOX: Mauer hit .298 with a .384 on-base percentage and a .438 slugging percentage in 212 games vs. the White Sox. … His top home run victims were the Sox and Tigers (18).

*DEBUT VS. SOX: Mauer singled off Mark Buehrle in his first at bat against the Sox in a 6-2 Sox win at the Metrodome on June 29, 2004. … Mauer batted eighth and also doubled off Shingo Takatsu in the 2 hour and 4 minute affair (this corrects a tweet I sent earlier)

*GOIN’ DEEP: The next day, Mauer connected for his first homer vs. the Sox (a solo shot off Freddy Garcia in the third inning) in the Sox 9-6 win at the Metrodome. … Mauer added a homer off Shingo in the ninth for the first of his four multi-homer games

*SHINGO WAS HIS FAVORITE-O: Mauer probably mourned the day the Sox dumped Shingo. … In three at bats against the Frisbee thrower, Mauer homered twice and doubled.

*VISITOR: Mauer hit .297 with nine home runs and 47 RBI in 101 games at U.S. Cellular Field/Guaranteed Rate Field.

*TWO CAREERS: Mauer was a force at USCF/GRF from 2005 to 2013 before finishing with a fizzle on the Southside. … In his first nine years there, Mauer hit at least .278 in each season while compiling a maddening .351 average in that span. He closed out his career by batting just .195 from 2014 to 2018.

*IN CHI-TOWN: Mauer’s best season at was 2010 when he hit an eye-popping .531 in nine games in 2010. … Mauer’s worst season at USCF/GRF was in 2016 when he was hitless in 16 at bats in five games.

*CHICAGO DEBUT: Mauer drew a first-inning walk off Jose Contreras in his debut in Chicago in the Sox 5-4 win on April 18, 2005 at U.S. Cellular Field. … Mauer collected his first Chicago hit (a bunt single in third off Contreras) and his first Chicago homer (a solo shot in the ninth off Shingo) later in the game

*MORE CHICAGO: Mauer hit .458 (11-for-24) with two homers and 12 RBI in six games (five starts) at Wrigley Field.

*CHICAGO FINALE: There was a huge buzz around Mauer’s final game in Chicago only it wasn’t sparked by Mauer.

On Aug. 22, 2018, the same day as Kopech, the Sox top pitching prospect, made his big league debut, Mauer made the last of his 101 appearances at U.S. Cellular Field/Guaranteed Rate Field.

Mauer was the first batter Kopech ever faced and he singled. Kopech got his revenge in the next inning when he fanned Mauer to end the frame with runners on first and second.

Mauer finished the game 2-for-4 with a run, a walk (intentional) and a strikeout in the Twins 5-2 win before 23,133 on a rainy night on the Southside.

*FIRST AT FIRST: Conceding to concussions from many years at catcher, Mauer made his big league debut at first base in his 864th big league game in the Twins 6-2 win over the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.

It didn’t take long for Mauer to get into the action at first base.

On his second play, Mauer speared an Omar Vizquel liner and doubled off Juan Pierre for an unassisted double play.

*LAST AT CATCHER: Aside from his final game, the last time Mauer played catcher against the White Sox was on Aug. 16, 2013.

Before 28,834 at Target Field, Mauer was 3-for-4 with a first inning homer off Jose Quintana in the White Sox 5-2 victory.

The last Sox runner to steal a base on Mauer was Jordan Danks on Aug. 15, 2013 at Target Field. The last Sox runner to get caught stealing by Mauer was Tyler Flowers on April 20, 2013 at Guaranteed Rate Field.

*BLACK OUT: Mauer was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in the White Sox 1-0 win in the American League Central Division tiebreaker (aka “The Blackout”) game on Sept. 30, 2008 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Batting third, Mauer struck out twice and bunted into an out against John Danks.

There is no way anyone could see Mauer flopping in that performance.

After all, Mauer was 7-for-10 with an RBI and two walks vs. Danks in their four previous meetings. In addition, Mauer was hitting .370 at U.S. Cellular Field heading into the game.

*LOVED TO FACE: Some pitchers with Sox ties that Mauer loved to face were Danks (.381 in 63 at bats), Gavin Floyd (.396, 3 HR in 48 ABs), Jose Quintana (.340, 2 HR in 47 ABs), Jake Peavy (.314 in 35 ABs), Garcia (.441, 2 HR in 34 ABs), Matt Thornton (.303 in 33 ABs), Hector Santiago (.333 in 21 ABs), Contreras (333 in 21 ABs), Dylan Axelrod (.556, HR in 9 ABs), Joakim Soria (.500 in 18 ABs), Philip Humber (.500 in 8 ABs), El Duque (.429 in 7 ABs), Carlos Rodon (.400 in 10 ABs), Bartolo Colon (.333 in 9 ABs).

*THE END: Mauer played what turned out to be the final game of his career on Sept. 30 vs. the White Sox at Target Field in Minneapolis.

Mauer started the game at first base and then moved behind the plate for the ninth before being removed for an emotional sendoff.

You wonder if Mauer had second thoughts about retiring.

He closed his career with a nine-game hitting streak, including five multi-hit contests. In his final five games against the White Sox, Mauer hit safely in all of them while compiling a .409 average.

THIS DATE (NOV. 12) IN SOX HISTORY: NELLIE WINS THE MVP

Nellie Fox was named as AL MVP on this date in 1959 (Photo https://www.ebay.com/p/1956-Topps-Nellie-Fox-Chicago-White-Sox-118-Baseball-Card/92236509)

On this date in 1959, White Sox second baseman Nellie Fox was voted American League Most Valuable Player in balloting released by the Baseball Writers Association of America on this date.

Fox outpolled teammate and runnerup Luis Aparicio in becoming the first Sox player to win the award.

Fox was the catalyst for the White Sox pennant winning club, hitting .306 with 191 hits, 34 doubles and six triples.

Fox also led league second basemen in games, putouts, assists and fielding percentage.

In addition to Aparicio, White Sox ace Early Wynn was third, centerfielder Jim Landis was seventh, catcher Sherm Lollar was ninth, pitcher Bob Shaw was 20th and pitcher Gerry Staley was 29th.