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  • A Conversation...with Billy Pierce

    A Conversation...with Billy Pierce


    By Mark Liptak
    White Sox Historian

    This one is personal for me…

    On July 31, 2015 I got an e-mail in the afternoon from Dr. David Fletcher of the Chicago Baseball Museum. He told me Billy Pierce had died and asked if I’d do the obituary story for the web site.

    This was one of those situations where you have to read, then re-read the e-mail to make sure you grasped what it said…Billy Pierce was dead of gall bladder cancer at 88.

    I didn’t even know he was sick, he kept everything very close to the vest. I was in a state of shock. I did the story through tears at the loss of my friend but felt I had to do it in order to do the man justice.

    And what a man he was.

    A few years before he died Dr. Fletcher and I put together a story for the Veterans Committee on why Bill should be in the Hall of Fame.

    One metric jumped out at me…

    Billy Pierce by WAR was the best pitcher of the decade. Not the best pitcher of 1953 or 1956 or 1957 but the best of the decade. Better than “Whitey” Ford, than Jim Bunning, than Robin Roberts, than Early Wynn, than Warren Spahn.

    I’m convinced that if Bill pitched for the Yankees or the Dodgers he’d already be in the Hall of Fame. It’s a travesty that he is not.

    But as good of a player Bill was, he was a better person.

    He raised millions of dollars through Northwestern’s Cancer Research Charity for Children, as a White Sox ambassador he’d visit kids, retirement homes, people at the ballpark, he was beloved by the city.

    One personal example, when I’d return to Chicago, I’d visit Bill and his wife Gloria. We’d have lunch, go back to their house and have a relaxing afternoon. This time instead of taking the train back to Oak Lawn my uncle said to call him and he’d come get me. So, he and my mom did.

    Bill greeted them and they talked in his driveway for 15-20 minutes about the...
    See more | Go to post

  • A Conversation...with Bill Mercer

    A Conversation...with Bill Mercer



    By Mark Liptak
    White Sox historian

    This time around we do something a little different as we bring you our conversation with former White Sox broadcaster Bill Mercer who came from "Deep in the heart of Texas" to join the Sox as part of their broadcasting team. Bill was a broadcaster for the Dallas Cowboys and was the first play by play broadcaster for the Texas Rangers. He had been doing minor league baseball since the early 50's and continued to call games into his 80's! For many years he also taught broadcasting at North Texas University. Bill is still with us retired and living in Durham, North Carolina. He's now 95 years old. I was able to speak with him in 2010.

    One additional note, Bill also was a news reporter for television station KRLD in Dallas, the CBS affiliate. When John Kennedy was shot and killed he and his colleagues reported live for three solid days that November. They provided the basic information to Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather as to the situation and the ramifications. Later Bill and his associates wrote a book describing those three days called "When the News Went Live." I highly recommend it for those interested in broadcasting history.

    ----------

    It was a very strange time for the White Sox from a broadcasting standpoint. The early/mid 1970’s saw the arrival of one of the franchise’s most popular voices, Harry Caray, who actually made listening to Sox baseball in good times or bad, interesting.

    But some baggage came with Harry and outside issues took place that shaped the broadcasting end of things in ways that were hard to understand. In fact, some things happened that have never happened before or after to a Major League team.

    Despite 17 consecutive winning seasons, nationally known players and almost yearly pennant races from 1951 through 1967, by the start of the 1971 season, the White Sox had lost their commercial AM broadcasting
    ...
    See more | Go to post

  • A Conversation...with Bart Johnson

    A Conversation...with Bart Johnson



    By Mark Liptak
    White Sox Historian

    Time and circumstances often make one forget about certain players, they tend to fall through the cracks as it were. Bart Johnson, White Sox pitcher was one of those guys. Possibly the greatest athlete to ever play for the franchise he along with teammates Terry Forster and "Goose" Gossage were the "kiddie relief corps" for the Sox in the late 60's and early 70's and those guys literally put fear in opposing hitters because of how hard they threw and because sometimes even they didn't know where the ball was going to go.

    I had the pleasure of meeting Bart twice in person. The first time was when I returned to Chicago and spoke with him as part of my historical story on the White Sox relationship with the media through the years. The second time was when I co-hosted the 40th anniversary celebration, with Richard Roeper for the 1972 club, Dick Allen's M.V.P. year. They were the club that in Roland Hemond's words, 'saved' the franchise.

    I knew Bart had back issues from his injury when playing for the Sox, he told me he couldn't stand for more than a few minutes at a time but I had no idea, as it was disclosed, when he passed away in April 2020, that he also suffered from complications from Parkinson's Disease. Bart was 70 when he died.

    His career had numerous twists and turns, triumphs and tragedy's most of them because of Bart's decisions and who he was...but one thing's for sure...it was never boring.

    One quick story on him that wasn't included in the interview I did with him in 2006, at the end of the three day celebration for the 1972 club everyone went back to the Drake Hotel in Chicago where all the out-of-town participants stayed. I was in the corner having a beer with Gossage and fellow Sox pitcher Tom Bradley. We were talking pitching and I asked them who threw the hardest among that staff. (And keep in mind Bradley was no...
    See more | Go to post

  • A Conversation...with Tony LaRussa

    A Conversation...with Tony LaRussa


    LaRussa waves to crowd after becoming
    second winningest manager in history.
    6-6-21

    By Mark Liptak
    White Sox Historian

    I had gotten to know Tony in the early 1980's, in fact, one of my most prized possessions is a seven page handwritten letter on White Sox stationary from Tony from early 1983. At the end of the 1982 year I wrote both Tony and Roland Hemond with my thoughts and suggestions. Tony being the lawyer that he is, reviewed and commented on every single point I mentioned (one of which was trading Britt Burns to the Braves for Bob Horner).

    That April I was on the field at Arlington Stadium for opening night and Tony consented to a radio interview with me during pregame batting practice.

    We stayed in touch occasionally over the years and when he retired from St. Louis, I put him on my list of "White Sox family" members I'd like to do an in-depth interview with, some others on the list were Jerry Reinsdorf, Eddie Einhorn, Dick Allen and Carlton Fisk.

    Working through the Cardinals and Tony's agent we were finally able to arrange a phone conversation from his home in Oakland shortly after Christmas in 2014.

    To that end here is that interview for your enjoyment...and if you read it all the way through to the end, you'll find the first possible hints of what was to come in the winter of 2021...Tony's return as White Sox manager.

    ------------------------- ...
    See more | Go to post

  • Playoffs!!!

    Playoffs!!!



    Sox fans have been waiting twelve years for today - twelve long frustrating years. Along the way we've seen our share of bad baseball. We've had to endure so many bad players, partial rebuilds and finally a full tear down to start from scratch with a bunch of kids. Last year we started to see some of the fruits as young players came on to show promise and help give a glimpse of the future and then everything got put on hold. The whole world got put on hold and all we could do is scratch our heads and say, "what now?" As Bill Veeck once quipped ""If there is any justice in this world, to be a White Sox fan frees a man from any other form of penance."

    But the season finally got going in late July and after a slow start and a lot of hand wringing and questions, much of it brought on by our nemesis from Minnesota in the first week of the season, the Sox took off. The young kids started hitting and the defense looked solid and they had not one but two or even three MVP candidates at various times. Entering these final two weeks against much tougher competition the Sox were the #1 team in the American League, but standing in our way was that very same Twinkies team. Some were convinced this would be the moment the Sox proved to be pretenders, getting fat on weak competition and now the butchers bill was due. Monday they won a squeaker. Tuesday was easier as rookie Pitcher Dane Dunning in only his 5th start rose up and led the team to victory. Wednesday our ace let us down a bit and the offense couldn't get anything going and the Sox took a painful loss, more so with the match-up coming Thursday day with Minnesota sending an ace to the mound as the Sox went with Renaldo "Mr. Wishy-Washy" Lopez. ...
    See more | Go to post

  • I said No No No No

    I said No No No No

    The No No Song
    (For Lucas Giolito 8-25-2020)
    By Voodoochile
    With apologies to Ringo Starr

    A Pitcher that I know from South Chicago
    Smiled because no one understands
    Then He threw his first pitch and we said ho ho
    And we knew he was the best in all the land

    And I said:
    No no no no, the Bucs can’t hit it no more
    They tried but they just bounced them off the floor
    Yeah they’re all, stiffs, who had lots of whiffs
    And Lucas showed them all right to the door

    A Player that I know from Pittsburgh town
    Frowned because he did not understand.
    Then he checked his swing, but the ump said gone
    He knows Lucas is the best in all the land

    And I said:
    No no no no, the Bucs can’t hit it no more
    They tried but they just bounced them off the floor
    Yeah they’re all, stiffs, who had lots of whiffs
    And Lucas showed them all right to the door

    A bunch of Sox fans let out a big scream
    We smile because now you understand
    Lucas and McCann and the White Sox team
    Simply are the best in all the land

    And I said:
    No no no no, the Bucs can’t hit it no more
    They tried but they just bounced them off the floor
    Yeah they’re all, stiffs, who had lots of whiffs
    And Lucas showed them all right to the door...
    See more | Go to post

  • Welcome to the new WSI Forums

    Welcome to the new WSI Forums

    Welcome to the new WSI Forums. Sadly, due to the passing of FarWestChicago we had to let the old site fade away. Honestly this is fitting. West was the driving force behind the old site and with his passing, his work should go with him. We were unable to transfer the old content due to major tweaks that were made to the code on the old site that would have led to a lot of broken code and no functionality if we had tried. Some of the moderators remain and we ask that you continue to treat them with the respect you have in the past.

    While the content is lost, the spirit lives on. You will find this site very similar to the old one in functionality and BONUS! the smilies work again. We were even able to rescue most of the old tags and smilies from the old forums so hopefully it will feel like home. Yes the language filters still exist and we still ask you not to try to evade them. We want to be a home for anyone, even younger members who want to talk Sox Baseball. Politics is still not allowed other than in the special hidden forum you have to ask to join. ...
    See more | Go to post
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  • A Conversation...with Billy Pierce
    by Lipman 1

    By Mark Liptak
    White Sox Historian

    This one is personal for me…

    On July 31, 2015 I got an e-mail in the afternoon from Dr. David Fletcher of the Chicago Baseball Museum. He told me Billy Pierce had died and asked if I’d do the obituary story for the web site.

    This was one of those situations where you have to read, then re-read the e-mail to make sure you grasped what it said…Billy Pierce was dead of gall bladder cancer at 88.

    I didn’t even know he was sick, he kept everything very close to the vest. I was in a state of shock. I did the story through tears at the loss of my friend but felt I had to do it in order to do the man justice.

    And what a man he was.

    A few years before he died Dr. Fletcher and I put together a story for the Veterans Committee on why Bill should be in the Hall of Fame.

    One metric jumped out at me…

    Billy Pierce by WAR was the best pitcher of the decade. Not the best pitcher of 1953 or 1956 or 1957 but the best of the decade. Better than “Whitey” Ford, than Jim Bunning, than Robin Roberts, than Early Wynn, than Warren Spahn.

    I’m convinced that if Bill pitched for the Yankees or the Dodgers he’d already be in the Hall of Fame. It’s a travesty that he is not.

    But as good of a player Bill was, he was a better person.

    He raised millions of dollars through Northwestern’s Cancer Research Charity for Children, as a White Sox ambassador he’d visit kids, retirement homes, people at the ballpark, he was beloved by the city.

    One personal example, when I’d return to Chicago, I’d visit Bill and his wife Gloria. We’d have lunch, go back to their house and have a relaxing afternoon. This time instead of taking the train back to Oak Lawn my uncle said to call him and he’d come get me. So, he and my mom did.

    Bill greeted them and they talked in his driveway for 15-20 minutes about the...
    07-24-2021, 07:30 PM
  • A Conversation...with Bill Mercer
    by Lipman 1


    By Mark Liptak
    White Sox historian

    This time around we do something a little different as we bring you our conversation with former White Sox broadcaster Bill Mercer who came from "Deep in the heart of Texas" to join the Sox as part of their broadcasting team. Bill was a broadcaster for the Dallas Cowboys and was the first play by play broadcaster for the Texas Rangers. He had been doing minor league baseball since the early 50's and continued to call games into his 80's! For many years he also taught broadcasting at North Texas University. Bill is still with us retired and living in Durham, North Carolina. He's now 95 years old. I was able to speak with him in 2010.

    One additional note, Bill also was a news reporter for television station KRLD in Dallas, the CBS affiliate. When John Kennedy was shot and killed he and his colleagues reported live for three solid days that November. They provided the basic information to Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather as to the situation and the ramifications. Later Bill and his associates wrote a book describing those three days called "When the News Went Live." I highly recommend it for those interested in broadcasting history.

    ----------

    It was a very strange time for the White Sox from a broadcasting standpoint. The early/mid 1970’s saw the arrival of one of the franchise’s most popular voices, Harry Caray, who actually made listening to Sox baseball in good times or bad, interesting.

    But some baggage came with Harry and outside issues took place that shaped the broadcasting end of things in ways that were hard to understand. In fact, some things happened that have never happened before or after to a Major League team.

    Despite 17 consecutive winning seasons, nationally known players and almost yearly pennant races from 1951 through 1967, by the start of the 1971 season, the White Sox had lost their commercial AM broadcasting
    ...
    07-11-2021, 12:43 AM
  • A Conversation...with Bart Johnson
    by Lipman 1


    By Mark Liptak
    White Sox Historian

    Time and circumstances often make one forget about certain players, they tend to fall through the cracks as it were. Bart Johnson, White Sox pitcher was one of those guys. Possibly the greatest athlete to ever play for the franchise he along with teammates Terry Forster and "Goose" Gossage were the "kiddie relief corps" for the Sox in the late 60's and early 70's and those guys literally put fear in opposing hitters because of how hard they threw and because sometimes even they didn't know where the ball was going to go.

    I had the pleasure of meeting Bart twice in person. The first time was when I returned to Chicago and spoke with him as part of my historical story on the White Sox relationship with the media through the years. The second time was when I co-hosted the 40th anniversary celebration, with Richard Roeper for the 1972 club, Dick Allen's M.V.P. year. They were the club that in Roland Hemond's words, 'saved' the franchise.

    I knew Bart had back issues from his injury when playing for the Sox, he told me he couldn't stand for more than a few minutes at a time but I had no idea, as it was disclosed, when he passed away in April 2020, that he also suffered from complications from Parkinson's Disease. Bart was 70 when he died.

    His career had numerous twists and turns, triumphs and tragedy's most of them because of Bart's decisions and who he was...but one thing's for sure...it was never boring.

    One quick story on him that wasn't included in the interview I did with him in 2006, at the end of the three day celebration for the 1972 club everyone went back to the Drake Hotel in Chicago where all the out-of-town participants stayed. I was in the corner having a beer with Gossage and fellow Sox pitcher Tom Bradley. We were talking pitching and I asked them who threw the hardest among that staff. (And keep in mind Bradley was no...
    06-27-2021, 12:20 AM
  • A Conversation...with Tony LaRussa
    by Lipman 1

    LaRussa waves to crowd after becoming
    second winningest manager in history.
    6-6-21

    By Mark Liptak
    White Sox Historian

    I had gotten to know Tony in the early 1980's, in fact, one of my most prized possessions is a seven page handwritten letter on White Sox stationary from Tony from early 1983. At the end of the 1982 year I wrote both Tony and Roland Hemond with my thoughts and suggestions. Tony being the lawyer that he is, reviewed and commented on every single point I mentioned (one of which was trading Britt Burns to the Braves for Bob Horner).

    That April I was on the field at Arlington Stadium for opening night and Tony consented to a radio interview with me during pregame batting practice.

    We stayed in touch occasionally over the years and when he retired from St. Louis, I put him on my list of "White Sox family" members I'd like to do an in-depth interview with, some others on the list were Jerry Reinsdorf, Eddie Einhorn, Dick Allen and Carlton Fisk.

    Working through the Cardinals and Tony's agent we were finally able to arrange a phone conversation from his home in Oakland shortly after Christmas in 2014.

    To that end here is that interview for your enjoyment...and if you read it all the way through to the end, you'll find the first possible hints of what was to come in the winter of 2021...Tony's return as White Sox manager.

    ------------------------- ...
    06-13-2021, 07:23 PM
  • Playoffs!!!
    by voodoochile


    Sox fans have been waiting twelve years for today - twelve long frustrating years. Along the way we've seen our share of bad baseball. We've had to endure so many bad players, partial rebuilds and finally a full tear down to start from scratch with a bunch of kids. Last year we started to see some of the fruits as young players came on to show promise and help give a glimpse of the future and then everything got put on hold. The whole world got put on hold and all we could do is scratch our heads and say, "what now?" As Bill Veeck once quipped ""If there is any justice in this world, to be a White Sox fan frees a man from any other form of penance."

    But the season finally got going in late July and after a slow start and a lot of hand wringing and questions, much of it brought on by our nemesis from Minnesota in the first week of the season, the Sox took off. The young kids started hitting and the defense looked solid and they had not one but two or even three MVP candidates at various times. Entering these final two weeks against much tougher competition the Sox were the #1 team in the American League, but standing in our way was that very same Twinkies team. Some were convinced this would be the moment the Sox proved to be pretenders, getting fat on weak competition and now the butchers bill was due. Monday they won a squeaker. Tuesday was easier as rookie Pitcher Dane Dunning in only his 5th start rose up and led the team to victory. Wednesday our ace let us down a bit and the offense couldn't get anything going and the Sox took a painful loss, more so with the match-up coming Thursday day with Minnesota sending an ace to the mound as the Sox went with Renaldo "Mr. Wishy-Washy" Lopez. ...
    09-17-2020, 05:13 PM
  • I said No No No No
    by voodoochile
    The No No Song
    (For Lucas Giolito 8-25-2020)
    By Voodoochile
    With apologies to Ringo Starr

    A Pitcher that I know from South Chicago
    Smiled because no one understands
    Then He threw his first pitch and we said ho ho
    And we knew he was the best in all the land

    And I said:
    No no no no, the Bucs can’t hit it no more
    They tried but they just bounced them off the floor
    Yeah they’re all, stiffs, who had lots of whiffs
    And Lucas showed them all right to the door

    A Player that I know from Pittsburgh town
    Frowned because he did not understand.
    Then he checked his swing, but the ump said gone
    He knows Lucas is the best in all the land

    And I said:
    No no no no, the Bucs can’t hit it no more
    They tried but they just bounced them off the floor
    Yeah they’re all, stiffs, who had lots of whiffs
    And Lucas showed them all right to the door

    A bunch of Sox fans let out a big scream
    We smile because now you understand
    Lucas and McCann and the White Sox team
    Simply are the best in all the land

    And I said:
    No no no no, the Bucs can’t hit it no more
    They tried but they just bounced them off the floor
    Yeah they’re all, stiffs, who had lots of whiffs
    And Lucas showed them all right to the door...
    08-25-2020, 10:38 PM
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