“In the learned opinion of Minnie Minoso, who patrolled left field alongside Jimmy for three of those years, Landis was the very best at his position.” … Rich Lindberg, White Sox historian, on Jim Landis in his book ‘Total White Sox’
Jim Landis, arguably the greatest defensive outfielder in White Sox history, died Saturday at age 83, according to the club’s Twitter feed.
Landis was one of the players who put some of the ‘go’ in the franchise’s “Go Go” era.
The Californian could hit a little bit, run and play defense — all hallmarks (along with stellar pitching) which defined the Sox of the 1950s and 1960s.
The Sox used that combination to fashion 17 consecutive winning seasons and first-division finishes between 1951 and 1967. Landis was a part of that run from 1957 to 1964 and was one of the key components of the 1959 American League pennant winners.
Here’s a @SoxNerd look at Landis (with help from Lindberg, Baseball Reference and Retrosheet):
*The five-time Gold Glove winner in the outfield was voted to the franchise’s Team of the (20th) Century after hitting .250 with 83 homers and 398 RBIs for the Sox from 1957 to 1964
*By my count, Landis is the 28th member of the Sox 1959 pennant winners to pass away. Still living are Rudy Arias, Sam Esposito, Joe Hicks, Barry Latman, J.C. Martin, Ken McBride, Gary Peters, Claude Raymond, Jim Rivera, John Romano, Lou Skizas and Joe Stanka.
At age 96, Rivera, aka “Jungle Jim,” is one of the oldest living big leaguers.
*Landis is third in Sox history (behind Minnie Minoso at 1,262 and Fielder Jones at 1,158) with 1,035 games in the outfield
*According to Lindberg, Landis was signed by Sox scout “Sloppy” Thurston, who owns the only “immaculate inning” in Sox history (https://soxnerd.wordpress.com/2015/06/05/why-i-love-sloppy-thurston/), and tutored by franchise great Johnny Mostil. … Per Lindberg, Landis got $2,500 to sign in 1952 and another $5,000 if he made the bigs.
*That bonus was realized when Landis made his big league debut on April 16, 1957 in the Sox Opening Day win at Cleveland.
*Speaking of Opening Day … Only Jones, Lance Johnson, Hap Felsch and Chet Lemon started more Sox Opening Days in center field than Landis’ five
*Landis led the American League 20 times in fielding categories during his Sox career
*Landis and Johnson wore No. 1 the longest for the Sox (eight years)
*Landis is the Sox all-time leader among outfielders with five Gold Gloves
*Landis led the 1959 American League champion White Sox with seven triples, 78 walks, 13 sacrifices and nine sacrifice flies … Landis topped the A.L. with 13 sacs and led league center fielders in games, starts, complete games, innings and putouts in 1959
*Landis finished seventh in the 1959 A.L. MVP voting with teammates Nellie Fox, Luis Aparicio and Early Wynn placing first, second and third respectively.
*Landis hit .292 with a still-standing franchise postseason record six runs while hitting safely in five of six games for the Sox in the 1959 World Series
*Landis was 3-for-4 with three runs and an RBI in the Sox 11-0 win vs. the Dodgers in Game 1 of 1959 World Series at Comiskey Park
*Landis recorded the first postseason hit in California with a first inning single for the Sox in Game 3 of the 1959 World Series at the Los Angeles Coliseum
*Landis hit third in five games and leadoff once for the Sox in the 1959 World Series
*Landis joins Frank Isbell (1906), Eddie Collins (1917), Buck Weaver (1919), Fox (1959) and Jermaine Dye (2005) to bat third in the World Series for the Sox
*Landis joins Ed Hahn (1906), Shano Collins (1917, 1919), Nemo Leibold (1919), Aparicio (1959) and Scott Podsednik (2005) to hit leadoff for the Sox in the World Series
*Landis and Aparicio represented the Sox at both All-Star Games in 1962. That marked the first time since 1952 the Sox didn’t send a pitcher to game. … Landis was 0-for-1 with strikeout against ex-teammate Bob Shaw after taking over for Roger Maris in the seventh in the season’s first All-Star Game in Washington D.C. Landis did not play in that season’s second All-Star Game.
*Landis is the only Sox player to homer in two 1-0 wins in a season. He turned the trick in 1962 on May 3 vs. the Yankees and on Aug. 12 at Kansas City.
*Landis became the second player in Sox history to hit two extra-inning homers in a season in 1960 (Al Smith was the first in 1959)
*More from Lindberg and Total White Sox: Landis was originally a third baseman but was switched to center field by manager Al Lopez. … Landis came into his own as a hitter when a second-half spurt raised his average by over 100 points. … Lopez benched Landis in 1964. That and other moves prompted Chicago sports writer Bill Gleason to stage his own “Jim Landis Night” where Landis fans hung the manager in effigy. YIKES!
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