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  • A Conversation with Bob Grim...

    A Conversation with Bob Grim...


    Bob Grim (right) with Sox
    announcer Jason Benetti

    By Mark Liptak
    White Sox Historian

    You may not recognize the name but he was an important part of the operations of the White Sox. Bob Grim was the Director of Broadcast Operations for the club among other duties and he along with Roland Hemond, Bill Melton and the late Billy Pierce were responsible for bringing the White Sox Alumni Association back to life.

    Bob also was involved in the historical aspect of the franchise, that's how I got to know him as he was the person I'd send along the historical audio (a 12 CD collection I put together starting with highlights from 1953) and print material I'd collected over the years. The White Sox unfortunately did not have a lot of their history and I just wanted to do what I could to help.

    Bob always treated me well when I'd return to Chicago, often we'd watch the game from his box along with Chris Rongey and Bill "Moose" Skowron.

    Bob retired after 30 years with the club this past November.

    This interview with him is from 2008 and the discussion around some of the White Sox television issues and Major League Baseball's TV issues are still relevant especially when it comes to the "blackout" areas which are still convoluted and cause fans a lot of headaches.

    One other personal note about Bob, for many years he was a certified basketball official working the Chicago area for high school and college games...you may have seen him if you attended a game and may not have known who he was!

    ----------

    Ask a White Sox fan to name some of the front office members and you’ll get the usual answers…Kenny Williams, Rick Hahn, Brooks Boyer, and Scott Reifert. But naturally a front office of a Major League franchise is composed of more than four people and sometimes the folks who are very important are the ones that you hear the least
    ...
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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...
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  • 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
    ...
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  • 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...
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  • 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.

    ------------------------- ...
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  • 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. ...
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  • 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...
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  • 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. ...
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  • A Conversation with Cory Snyder...
    by Lipman 1

    By Mark Liptak
    White Sox Historian

    White Sox fans may think the right field situation and the team’s inability to figure it out is a recent problem but history shows it isn’t.

    The hole in right field has been around off and on for years. For example, the Sox thought they had it solved when they made a trade with Cleveland for power hitter Cory Snyder before the start of the 1991 season.

    Alas it didn’t work out and shockingly Snyder was traded even before that season ended.

    Sometimes though the reason something didn’t work isn’t obvious and there was far more than met the eye in this one as I found out when I interviewed Cory in 2002.

    It showed the power of then White Sox hitting coach Walt Hriniak.

    ----------

    His stay in Chicago wasn’t a long one. It wasn’t by his choice, and to this day, Cory Snyder wonders "what if?" What if his opportunity with the White Sox had been longer? What if he had been able to play on the 1993 Western Division Champion and the team leading the division at the time of the strike in 1994?

    Snyder played nine years in the Major Leagues with Cleveland, the White Sox, Toronto, San Francisco and Los Angeles. He was a tremendous athlete with an arm that enabled him to tie for the lead in outfield assists in the American League from 1987 through 1990 with 61. He was an exceptional defensive outfielder only making one error in 310 chances in 1989. He had pop in his bat as well, stroking 115 home runs in his four and a half years with the Tribe. When the Sox got him in the off season after 1990, for pitchers Eric King and Shawn Hillegas, Sox fans thought the ‘black hole’ in right field was finally figured out.

    Unfortunately, Snyder’s stay on the South Side lasted only three and a half months when he was dealt to Toronto for outfielder Shawn Jeter. It’s a sad story of a good player being forced to do things...
    11-15-2021, 09:50 PM
  • A Conversation with Chuck Tanner...
    by Lipman 1

    By Mark Liptak
    White Sox Historian

    He’s really the first White Sox manager I ever followed closely.

    I was born in 1955, so I was a toddler when Marty Marion was the Sox manager, I got to follow Al Lopez and Eddie Stanky a little bit but when you’re a youngster you’re not concerned with strategy, only ‘Did the Sox win today?’

    But by the time Chuck Tanner came on the scene I was a teenager and started to understand the little things about the game that made the difference between winning and losing, how managers interacted with their players and with the media and of course the relationship with the general manager and/or owner.
    It was with great pleasure that I was able to reach out to Chuck in 2005 as the White Sox were driving towards the playoffs and eventual World Series title. We spoke for a few hours going through his time with the team and the ups and down’s during it.

    Chuck passed away in 2011and while the Sox never were able to reach the heights everyone hoped for during his time, for reasons that will become clear in the interview, he did provide some stability during a very difficult time with rumors abounding over where the Sox could eventually end up.

    One story that didn’t make the interview because it didn’t happen until 2008 showed how Chuck still valued his former players even years after he stopped being their manager.
    When “Goose” Gossage was being inducted into the Hall of Fame in August 2008, Dick Allen picked Chuck up in Pennsylvania and they drove to Cooperstown to surprise Gossage on his big day. Chuck was ailing at the time but wanted to show support for his one-time hard throwing relief pitcher.

    ----------

    Chuck Tanner is a baseball lifer. Now 76, he still works as a baseball scout for the Cleveland Indians. He has been in baseball is various forms for over 50 years. What we’ll be focusing on in this interview are his days as...
    11-01-2021, 07:50 PM
  • A Conversation With Chet Lemon...
    by Lipman 1

    By Mark Liptak
    White Sox Historian

    A few weeks ago, I brought you my interview with former Sox outfielder Carlos May, a guy who overcame a potential career ending injury to have a very good career on the South Side.

    Now I bring you the story of another terrific outfielder, Chet Lemon. Lemon also overcame an illness that almost cost him his life after leaving the White Sox.

    Some teams are known for certain positions. The White Sox historically have been known for pitchers, shortstops and center fielders. Lemon was among the best center fielders to ever play in Comiskey Park ranking right up there with players like Gold Glove winners Jim Landis and Ken Berry along with other very good outfielders in Mike Hershberger and Lance Johnson.

    I’ve lost touch with Chet since my interview with him in 2004. I wish I could get back in contact with him because, as I think you’ll see in the interview, there aren’t many guys as open and honest about life and baseball as he is. He was just a great guy to talk with.

    ----------

    It’s amazing what you forget. Take this example. In the 2004 White Sox media guide on page 294 under the heading of ‘Career Batting Leaders,’ you find this in the top right-hand corner. Under the listing for ‘Top Career OPB + Slugging Leaders’, sitting in the 5th position all time is Chet Lemon at .814. Ahead of him is Frank Thomas at #1, Magglio Ordonez, "Minnie" Minoso and Eddie Collins. Not bad company.

    Lemon is another one of those very good White Sox players that few knew about, primarily because for most of his career in Chicago, Chet played on some bad, nondescript clubs. He had to go to Detroit before getting national recognition and getting a World Series ring with the 1984 Tigers.

    But make no mistake... Lemon was pretty damn good.

    He was with the Sox from September 1975 through the 1981 season, playing in two All-Star
    ...
    10-16-2021, 06:15 PM
  • South side blackout
    by voodoochile




    SOUTH SIDE BLACKOUT

    by


    Matthew Cianchetti AKA Foulke You

    On a drizzly night in September of 2008, the White Sox finished the 162 game gauntlet with a makeup game win against the Tigers and found themselves in a dead heat with their biggest division rivals, the Minnesota Twins. By virtue of a coin flip, the White Sox had won the right to host the tiebreaker game 163 to decide the AL Central crown. Having the home field advantage for the winner take all affair was huge in that particular season as both teams were dominant at home and both teams were designed to take advantage of their own ballparks. At the time, the Sox were heavily built around home runs while the Twins were built around speed and contact hitting. The bouncy turf at the old HHH Metrodome wreaked havoc on opponents as Twins hitters practically swung down on the baseball to initiate bouncing bleeders through the infield. Any Sox fan no doubt has nightmares at the thought of Nick Punto at the dome going 4 for 5 with nary a hit cracking 80 mph exit velocity. There would be no dome or fake turf on tap that September night. The Twins were about to have their season blacked out.

    When it was clear the Sox had won the makeup game 162 against Detroit to force the tiebreaker scenario, the Sox immediately put tickets on sale that same night. One of the benefits of this particular affair being unplanned and last minute scheduling was the fact that it was essentially a playoff game without the league red tape. Any true fan knows that the playoffs can often squeeze out the little guy with high secondary pricing and sponsor reserved tickets. This game 163 was not going to have many corporate fans or celebrities in the house. It was 40,000 rabid White Sox supporters that were coming out to see the South Side 9 win a division title. The team marketing department put out a call to arms: “BLACKOUT”. Taking a page out of “white
    ...
    10-05-2021, 08:52 PM
  • A Conversation With Carlos May...
    by Lipman 1

    By Mark Liptak
    White Sox Historian

    He was a very good player for the White Sox during the first half of the 1970’s. Carlos May was overshadowed at times by guys like Dick Allen, Bill Melton and Wilbur Wood but he could play the game, combining surprising speed for a man of his size with good power. He made the All-Star team in 1969 and 1972 which was probably his finest season.

    But to know the story of Carlos you have to know what he went through to even get back to the Major Leagues after a horrible accident while with the Marine Reserves cost him his thumb and put his playing future in grave danger.

    When I talked with Carlos in 2004 he went into detail about the accident, how it impacted him and how White Sox fans responded to his situation. This is the interview with him for your enjoyment.


    Also, May is the only player in MLB history (that I know of) that has his uniform reflect not only his last name “May” but also his actual birthday, “May 17!”

    ----------

    When you think about it, the career of Carlos May and the history of the White Sox franchise seem to coincide quite a bit. May was a tremendous prospect and when he came up for good to the Sox in 1969 he was one of the better players on a team that didn’t have many of them, a lot like the career of Luke Appling in the 40's, Chet Lemon in the late 70's, Ozzie Guillen in the late 80's and Frank Thomas in the late 90's. May suffered what could have been a potentially career ending injury, like ill-fated Sox players “Monty” Stratton, Paul Edmondson and Johnny Mostil, only to come back and have a solid career. He finally got his chance at post season play but naturally, it had to come with a team other than the White Sox, like countless others.

    While May was on the South Side, he showed he could pound a baseball, hit for average and surprisingly to some, steal bases... a lot of them, for a man his size.

    ...
    09-25-2021, 04:07 PM
  • History!
    by voodoochile

    Let it be written. Let it be known. On September 23rd, 2021 at approximately 4:00 PM local time in Cleveland, the Chicago White Sox won the American League Central Division title and ensured themselves a playoff spot for the second consecutive year. This marks the first time in their history the Sox have managed to make the playoffs two years in a row. It's been a LONG time coming but for those of us who witnessed today it was worth the wait.

    It hasn't been an easy slog, though the division title has been a foregone conclusion for several weeks now. Cleveland traded Cesar Hernandez to the Sox at the trade deadline pretty much surrendering and admitting they weren't going to catch our Boyz this year. However the Sox promptly took that surrender and sat on it, playing .500 ball over the remainder of the year while fighting niggling injuries and roller coaster offensive output while trying their best to walk the fine line between resting players and locking up the division. Mission accomplished at last. Well at least in part. There's still another week+ to go and then come the playoffs themselves. Right now that's a big mountain, but at least the team appears to be finally getting healthy with only Ryan Tepera currently still unavailable from the expected playoff roster.

    The game itself was never in doubt. Tim Anderson led things off with a solo shot and then tacked on another 3-run blast in the second after both Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez added solo shots of their own. By the time the smoke had cleared the Sox were up 7-0 after 1.5. The offense didn't add anymore, but the pitching was solid and Tony LaRussa wasn't playing games. He yanked starting pitcher, Reynaldo Lopez in the 4th when he started struggling with control and gave up his second solo shot to close the lead to 5. The Sox brought in Garret Crochet who gave up a single but then got a double play grounder to end the inning. After that, it was bring in the late inning...
    09-23-2021, 08:25 PM
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