So, it’s that time again! This year’s April A to Z Challenge starts in eleven days, and as I announced earlier, I plan on participating in it.
I wanted to do something like this at some point in the last year, and decided that this would probably be the best time for it, because, well, I was having a rough time coming up with something. To get us all in the mood, here are Captain Stubby and the Buccaneers, from 1959. (They had a kids’ cartoon show during the noon hour in Chicago in the Fifties.)
Last year, The Armchair Squid came up with a great baseball-related theme for the Challenge: a second baseman a day. He said it was because the year before that, he had tried to come up with a Baltimore Oriole a day, and came up empty on second basemen. That gave me the idea to come up with a White Sox player a day, one for each letter of the alphabet. Now, that would be relatively simple if you take all the players who played on the South Side from the beginning of the American League until the present day. Wikipedia has a list of all of them right here. So, I decided that the players that I would choose would be (as much as possible) those who played for the Sox from 1967 until the demolition of the original Comiskey Park in 1991.
Why 1967? That was the first year that I could remember the White Sox coming close to winning the American League pennant. They were in first place all summer, and general manager Ed Short managed a couple of key trades, bringing former All-Star third baseman Ken Boyer from the New York Mets and Rocky Colavito from the Cleveland Indians. The key to the “Hitless Wonders” of 1967 was the pitching, led by a starting rotation of Joe Horlen (who no-hit the Detroit Tigers on September 10), Gary Peters, Tommy John, and Francisco Carlos, with Bob Locker and Hoyt Wilhelm anchoring the bullpen. In the end, though, the White Sox had to settle for fourth place, three games back of the Boston Red Sox.
1967 made me a White Sox fan to stay, despite the fact that I lived on the North Side among Cub fans (Madison Avenue in Chicago divides the North Side from the South, and it’s said Cub fans from Sox fans). My mother’s family had moved from the South Shore neighborhood on the South Side to Rogers Park on the far North Side when my grandfather was hired by Loyola Academy, then on the Loyola University campus, and both he and my uncle were big White Sox fans (a trait they gained from my great-grandmother, who attended many Ladies’ Day games and kept score and everything).
It was not easy to remain a White Sox fan during the late Sixties. The Sox pulled out all the stops to make 1968 as good as 1967, including reacquiring popular shortstop Luis Aparicio from Baltimore (where he had been traded in the winter of 1962-63) and acquiring former Dodgers slugger Tommy Davis from the New York Mets, in the process trading infielder/outfielder Don Buford to Baltimore and outfielder Tommie Agee, infielder Al Weis, and catcher J. C. Martin to the Mets (where they help the Mets win the 1969 World Series). Even though the ChiSox continued to have great pitching, they still couldn’t hit, and they ran the first losing record since 1950. And, they just kept getting worse. Still, I hung in there with the White Sox. That either makes me crazy or stubborn.
There are many stories to tell, and I probably will in the coming month. As they say, watch this space for further developments.