SOX HAD A SHOT AT JACKIE

Jackie Robinson reset the course of history when he broke baseball’s color line 70 years ago today (April 15, 1947).

Could he have done that with the White Sox instead of the Brooklyn Dodgers?

On March 18, 1942, the White Sox had a chance to make history but passed.

About five years before baseball’s watershed moment, White Sox manager Jimmy Dykes watched Robinson and Nate Moreland work out at his team’s spring training facility in Pasadena, Calif.

According to Jules Tygiel’s 1983 book “Baseball’s Great Experiment,” Robinson, best known as a football star at UCLA at the time, and Moreland, a Negro League pitcher, requested a tryout, which Dykes granted.

History tells us that nothing came of the tryout, the sincerity of which has been questioned throughout the years, but Dykes, who stated he was willing to accept black players, was impressed even though Robinson was hobbled by a charley horse, according to Tygiel.

“I’d hate to see him on two good legs,” Dykes said. “He’s worth $50,000 of anybody’s money. He stole everything but my infielders’ gloves.”

After a stint in the army and with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues and the minor league Montreal Royals, Robinson debuted with the Dodgers in 1947. Robinson did not mention this tryout with the White Sox in his 1972 autobiography “I Never Had It Made.”

Minnie Minoso broke the White Sox color barrier on May 1, 1951.

A HALL OF FAME STATEMENT: FRANK COMES CLEAN

frank-thomas-cover2

On the third anniversary of his being voted into the Hall of Fame, I want to reflect on what I believe is Frank Thomas’ finest hour.

It was a moment when the White Sox legend told the world he was clean and he hated steroids.

I believed him then and I believe him now.

I have always said if I am ever accused of something I did not do, I would scream from the mountain tops: I AM NOT GUILTY!

That’s exactly what Frank did except he did it before Congress, which is a little more daunting than the mountain tops.

On St. Patrick’s Day 2005, “Big Frank” testified, via satellite from Arizona, before the Committee on Government Reform, which convened at the United States House Representatives in Washington.

The panel was called “Restoring Faith in America’s Pastime: Evaluating Major League Baseball’s Efforts to Eradicate Steroid Use” and included Senators John McCain and Jim Bunning, a Hall of Fame pitcher, among others.

Players or former players called to testify were, in order of appearance, Jose Canseco, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, Curt Schilling and Thomas.

According to a Washington Post article, Thomas and Schilling were invited because of their vocal opposition to steroid use.

The other players all had been connected to or accused of steroid use. Thomas did not take part in the questioning but did make the following statement:

“Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee. I want to thank the Chairman and the Ranking member for allowing me to make this statement. My name is Frank Thomas and I am a baseball player for the Chicago White Sox — a team I am proud to have been part of since joining Major League Baseball in 1989.

“First of all, Mr. Chairman, let me say that as an outspoken critic of steroids, I would like to work with this Committee, Major League Baseball, and the Players Association to warn everyone – especially young people – about the dangers of performance enhancing drugs. Steroids are dangerous and the public should be educated about them, and in particular, parents should make sure their children are aware that steroids can be bad for their health.

“I also believe the League and the Players’ Association have done the right thing by reopening our collective bargaining agreement and strengthening our policy on drug testing. I support this new policy as a very good first step in eliminating steroid use from the sport I love.

“I have been a major league ballplayer for 15 years. Throughout my career, I have not used steroids. Ever.

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee.”

Thank you, Frank,.

 

Same year Sox and Cubs

LOUD NOISES!

Will Ferrell’s appearance for the White Sox and Cubs on Thursday prompted someone to email me with a question: Has any man ever played in a game for the White Sox and the Cubs on the same day?

In stay-classy Ron Burgundy-style, I can look right in the camera and say, “No.”

That doesn’t mean there haven’t been some close calls.

Of the 13 men who have played for the White Sox and Cubs in the same season, seven have appeared for their new Chicago club within a week of leaving their old Chicago club. The closest call to a same-day Sox and Cub came in 1970 when reliever Bob Miller pitched for the White Sox on Aug. 30 and then took the hill for the Cubs on Sept. 2.

The first man to appear for the White Sox and Cubs in the same season was Sam Strang in 1902. Strang finished his career with the White Sox on Sept. 28 in the 1902 season finale. Six days later in St. Louis, Strang debuted for the Cubs.

The last man to play for the White Sox and Cubs in the same season was Josh Paul in 2003. He wrapped up his Sox career on June 21, 2003 and then started with the Cubs 78 days later on Sept. 7.

Here’s a look at each of the 13 men who have played for the White Sox and Cubs in the same season (NO HELICOPTERS WERE USED IN THE CREATION OF THIS LIST)

EARL AVERILL
Last game with Cubs: 7-10-60; First game with Sox: 8-18-60 (39 days)
MATT KARCNHER
Last game with Sox: 7-26-98; First game with Cubs: 8-1-98 (6 days)
BILL LONG
Last game with Sox: 4-21-90; First game with Cubs: 5-1-90 (10 days)
TURK LOWN
Last game with Cubs: 5-2-58; First game with Sox: 6-29-58 (58 days)
LYNN MCGLOTHEN
Last game with Cubs: 8-10-81; First game with Sox: 8-15-81 (5 days)
LLOYD MERRIMAN
Last game with Sox: 4-12-55; First game with Cubs: 4-17-55 (5 days)
BOB MILLER
Last game with Sox: 8-30-70; First game with Cubs: 9-2-70 (3 days)
EMMETT O’NEAL
Last game with Cubs: 4-17-46; First game with Sox: 4-28-46 (11 days)
JOSH PAUL
Last game with Sox: 6-21-2003; First game with Cubs: 9-7-2003 (78 days)
PHIL REGAN
Last game with Cubs: 4-30-72; First game with Sox: 6-30-72 (34 days)
STEVE RENKO
Last game with Cubs: 8-14-77; First game with Sox: 8-21-77 (7 days)
JIMMY STEWART
Last game with Cubs: 5-14-67; First game with Sox: 6-21-67 (38 days)
SAMMY STRANG
Last game with Sox: 9-28-1902; First game with Cubs: 10-4-1902 (6 days)

REMEMBERING MINNIE MINOSO

I only saw Minnie Minoso play once and it was through the fuzziness of a black and white, pre-cable television in Oct. of 1980. That, of course, was when Minnie played in his record fifth decade as a member of Bill Veeck’s White Sox.

Most of my knowledge of Minnie as the “Cuban Comet” has come through books, websites and grainy newsreel footage.

Why, then, did I feel such as sense of loss and emotion upon hearing of his death on Sunday (March 1, 2015).

I was grieving more over the loss of Minnie the ambassador, his presence and the lover of baseball than I was over the loss of a great player.

Minnie made everyone he touched feel good about baseball, the White Sox and U.S. Cellular Field.

The last time I saw him, I was zipping through the lobby at the Cell. As always, I shook his hand and said, “Next stop, Coooperstown.”

As with the first time I met him, he looked at me and said, “Hello, my friend.”

Our friend. Always and forever.

White Sox nuggets