The South Side Hit Men were no more. Just a 1 year experiment by the enterprising Bill Veeck was disbanded by this new phenomenon of the 1970's called Free Agency. Veeck's idea was to collect as many long ball threats as possible who had expiring contracts and let them hit homers in hopes of netting a huge free agent deal. In the process the Chisox contended for the AL West flag and kept the South Side fans enthralled. In contrast the '78 edition of the Pale Hose had one 20 homer man (Eric Soderholm) and a bunch of singles hitters. Jorge Orta and Chet Lemon (13 homers each) were the only others to eclipse double digits. Lemon, who played a mean centerfield, was the only regular to hit .300, which he did on the nose. Chicago had a superb bench. The top 6 guys off the bench hit over .260. Wayne Nordhagen, who played practically every spot, hit .301 in 206 at bats. The Chisox were 10th in the league in runs scored, which didn't bode well for a team who's pitching staff finished 12th out of 14 teams. Not one starter had an ERA under 4.00. Veteran knuckleball ace, Wilbur Wood, hit the skids. After years of being the staff ace in both innings and 20 win seasons Wood posted a meager 10-10, 5.20 season. If the starter managed to hold up, the pen would find a way to blow it. Twin closers Lerrin LaGrow and Jim Willoughby each had high ERA's a a penchant for blowing late inning leads. Seldom used Mike Proly (5-2, 2.74) was the only reliever to post a sub 3.00 ERA. Still there was a glimmer of hope with a pair of 19 year old on the horizon in Steve "Rainbow" Trout and Britt Burns. Both saw very limited action, but would become the future of the franchise. 1978 was a rebuilding year as the Pale Hose finished 71-90, 20.5 games behind the division winning Royals.
In total I created 25 new cards for the White Sox, which up to this point is the most that I had to create for any one team for this project.
Molinaro was selected off waivers by the Chicago White Sox from the Detroit Tigers He would see action in just four games for the White Sox in 1977. Molinaro returned to the majors for a full season with the White Sox in 1978, before heading back to the minor leagues for the 1979 season, which saw him play for the American Association's Iowa Oaks. Molinaro did have another brief stay in the major leagues in 1979 when he played eight games for the Baltimore Orioles. Once again, he was back in a White Sox uniform, and playing full-time for them in 1980 and in 81.
After two years with the Chicago White Sox, Bob Molinaro was sent by the Chicago White Sox to the Chicago Cubs on March 29, 1982 to complete an earlier deal. In '78 he played all 3 outfield positions and hit .262. The photo here is his 1980 supersize card photo
Whitesoxcards Blogspot site.
19 year old Britt Burns was drafted in 1978 by the Chisox in the third round of the amateur draft. He was given 2 starts and performed just like an over matched teenager. He would spend the better part of the next 2 seasons learning his craft in the minors before his 15-13, 2.84 rookie season in 1980, where he finished 5th in the ROY voting. Burns would win in double digits for the Chisox in 5 of the next 6 seasons before developing serious arm trouble. He was traded to the Yankees before the start of the 1986 season, but was damaged goods. Besides arm issues he also developed hip problems, which forced him to retire at the tender age of 26. In 1990 he attempted a comeback in the Yankee farm system, but that ended when he appeared to be a shell of his former self. This photo came from his supersized 1980 card.
Kucek spent 5 seasons splitting time between the Chisox and their AAA affiliates. The most time he spent with the Sox was in 1978, where he appeared in 10 games and started 5. 3 of those 5 starts wound up as complete games. Kucek logged 52 innings and finished the year with a 2-3, 3.29 record. He was traded to Philly midway through the following season and finished his career in 1980 at the age of 27, while with Toronto. Kucek's 1979 card photo appears here.
Breazeale played four seasons in the Major Leagues, three with the Braves (1969; 1971–1972), and one for the Chicago White Sox (1978). In his MLB career, Breazeale played 89 games with 179 at bats and 40 hits. He had three home runs, 33 RBIs, 20 runs, and a .223 batting average. He played his final game on July 19, 1978 with the White Sox. Known for his huge horn rimmed glasses, Breazeale hit .208 with 3 homers in 72 at bats for the South Siders during his brief stay there. He was a rule 5 draft pick from the Braves organization. Rather than release him after the '78 season the White Sox made him player manager of their Appleton (A ball) affiliate, where he hit .305 in 1979 and managed the team. This B&W phot required heavy colorization and customization. I then superimposed it on a Comiskey background.
During his 8 year career Willoughby played for the Giants (1971-74), Red Sox (1975-77) and finally the White Sox (1978). During the '78 season he posted a 1-6, 3.86 recore with 13 saves in 93 innings. At the end of the season he was traded to the Cardinals for John Scott, but never played another game in the majors. The Cubs picked him up as a free agent and assigned him to their AAA affiliate (Wichita). After a poor half season in Wichita he was cut and picked up by Portland (AAA-PIT) and in 24 games he went 3-2, 2.85, but never received a call up. He was released at the end of the '79 season. I used his '79 card photo, which was taken during the '78 season at Yankee Stadium.
Gates played parts of two seasons in the majors for the Chicago White Sox. His only extra base hit was a triple on May 13, 1979 against the Kansas City Royals. He had come on as a pinch hitter for Don Kessinger and stayed in the game and played second base. The pitcher for the Royals was Eduardo Rodriguez. The hit drove in Greg Pryor in the bottom of the 9th. The final score of the game was Royals 14, White Sox 5. After his major league career, he entered the coaching ranks, where he coached many teams over the course of a 30 year period until his untimely death at the age of 55. This card was created off a B&W photo that I colorized, then added the SOX logo on his batting helmet and pasted on a 1978 White Sox jersey picture that I found while doing a Google search.
Interesting Tidbit: Larry Doby himself was a coach on all 3 teams that Johnson played. He was released 5 weeks prior to Doby being named White Sox manager. This photo comes from his minor league card, while at Rochester. I had to airbrush out the team logo on the jersey and change the colors to be consistent with White Sox blue. I added the SOX cap logo. Not many photos of Johnson are available.
In April 1976, the Tigers sold LaGrow to the St. Louis Cardinals. LaGrow pitched in 8 games for the Cardinals with a 1.48 earned run average. During 1977 and 1978, LaGrow moved to Chicago and became their ace reliever. He appeared in a career high 66 games for the White Sox in 1977 and another 52 in 1978. In 1977, he had 25 saves for the White Sox, third best in the American League. He was also among the league leaders in saves in 1978 with 16. This is his original '78 card, which for some reason wasn't part of my original packet, so I wound up including it here.
Interesting Tidbit: In the 1972 ALCS, while pitching for Detroit, he threw at Bert Campaneris and hit him in the ankle, which set off a team brawl and got both players suspended for the rest of the series.
After the 1978 Triple-A season ended, Foley was given his first taste of major league action. He made his debut on September 11, 1978 against the Minnesota Twins. He pinch-hit for starting catcher Mike Colbern in the 9th inning, grounding out against pitcher Mike Marshall. He played in a total of 11 games that season, batting .353 in 34 at bats. Over the next 2 seasons Foley saw his playing time increase and his batting average decrease. He spent all of 1981 and 1983, and most of 1982 in the minors. 1984 saw him play in 63 games as a Texas Ranger, but that was his final taste of the biggs. I found this great close up photo of the Chicago White Sox Cards blog.
Colbern saw action in 48 games for the Pale Hose during the '78 season. He hit .270 (38-141) with 2 homers and 20 RBI's. The following season he slumped to .241 and was send down to Iowa (AAA), where he was only slightly better (.246). 1981 was a hard year for Colbern. He hit .264 during the first half of the season, but did not get called up due to the MLB Players Strike. Instead he was traded to Atlanta's Richmond AAA affiliate where he hit .150. Instead of being promoted to the majors he wound up demoted to AA Savannah. He hit just .235 and was given his release.
Interesting Tidbit: He was part of a class action suit by former major leaguer's who didn't qualify for the player's pension fund. They claimed that they were entitled to a pension just like Negro League players, who played sparingly in the majors. They did not win their case.
In two major league seasons, Eden posted a .080 batting average (2-for-25) and scored a run in 15 games. He hit .269 (251-for-932) in 266 minor league games, including 16 home runs, 114 RBI, and a .363 on-base percentage. In 1978 he appeared in 10 games as a utility player and hit .118 (2-17). In 106 games at Iowa (AAA-CHW) during the '78 season he hit .274 (113-412) and hit his minor league career high in homers (7). After the season concluded he was released by the Chisox and picked up by Baltimore, where he was assigned to Rochester (AAA). He played 2 non-descript seasons in Rochester before being released. I found this photo while doing a Google search.
Proly finally got a chance to be a full time major leaguer by the Sox in 1978 after spending most of the previous 6 seasons in the Cardinal chain. Proly received a battlefield promotion from Iowa after impressing the parent club by going 6-2, 2.59 in 22 games. His magic continued on the major league level. In 14 games (6 starts) he went 5-2, 2.74. The following 2 seasons saw him have limited success as both a long reliever and spot starter for the White Sox. After a disappointing 1980 he moved on to Philly and played 1 season there + 2 additional seasons with the crosstown rival Cubs before being optioned back to the minors. I found this autographed photo on ebay.
Interesting Tidbits: In 1984, the lefty throwing Squires, played 13 errorless games at third base. In 1981, his only season as a full time starter, he won the Gold Glove Award at first base.
Torrealba bounced around the Braves farm system for 8 seasons getting to finally play with the big club in 1976. His contract was sold to the A's at the conclusion of Spring Training and he proceeded to have a phenomenal '77 season in Oakland. Almost a year to the day that he moved to Oakland, he was dealt to the Chisox for Jim Essian and Steve Renko. Oakland got the better end of the deal as Torrealba went 2-4, 4.71 in 25 games. Midway through the '79 campaign he was sent to the minors then released. I used his '79 card photo.
Hinton was the epitome of the journeyman righhander who had AAAA stuff and bounced around from team to team. The White Sox must have really taken a liking to him, because he was acquired by the franchise on 3 separate occasions. Originally drafted by Chicago in 1969 he played 1 season (1971) for them before moving over to the Yankees and Texas. He spent all of 1973 and 1974 in the minors before returning the Chisox for 15 games in 1975. 1976 saw him earn a ring in Cincinnati, even though he did not add anything productive to the team's accomplishment (1-2, 7.64). A comeback in 1978 saw him return to Chicago for a 3rd tour of duty where he pitched in 29 games (80 innings) and posted a 2-6, 4.02 record. He must have showed the Chisox enough to be invited back in 1979, but after going 1-2, 6.05 in 16 games he was sent to Seattle, where he finished out the year and his career. This photo is one of my favorite. I took a photo fo him on the Yankees and airbrushed the cap and added the SOX logo then superimposed a White Sox jersey over his Yankee threads.
In 1978, Wortham opened the season in Iowa. However, when starting pitcher Ken Kravec got off to a rough start, he was sent to the minors, and Wortham was called up to replace him. He made his debut on May 3 against the Milwaukee Brewers, and he pitched 6.2 innings and gave up 3 runs in a 4–0 loss. In his next start, he beat the Minnesota Twins, pitching 8 innings and giving up 2 runs on 9 hits. His next outing found him giving up 10 hits in just 4.1 innings, and he was returned to the minors, with Kravec returning to the majors. Wortham spent most of the rest of the season in Iowa, and was recalled in September when the rosters expanded. In five September starts, Wortham went 2–0 with a 2.70 ERA, lowering his overall ERA for the season to 3.02. He also pitched his first two major league complete games. Wortham was seen as a future star. That star would quickly dim in 1979 after he posted a 14-14, 4.90 record. 1980 was even worse, which facillitated him being farmed out.
While pitching for the White Sox's Appleton minor league club in 1978, Baumgarten was 9–1 with a 1.82 earned run average (ERA) as a starting pitcher, and earned promotion to the White Sox major league club. In limited action (7 games) he went 2-2, 5.87 for the parent club. The following season he started 28 games and did very well (13-8, 3.54). 1980 saw his ERA drop 10 points (3.54), but his record plummeted to 2-12. 1981 saw his record improve modestly (5-9), but his ERA went over the 4.00 mark. On March 21, 1982 he was shipped to Pittsburgh for Vance Law and Ernie Camacho. In 12 games in Steeltown he dropped all five of his decisions to go along with a 6.55 ERA. The Pirates cut him, but he got a last chance with the A's who's complete pitching staff was decimated by Billy Martin. In Tacoma AAA he was just as bad as he was in Pittsburgh the previous year, so he was released. I found this photo while doing a Google search.
Torres was signed on March 1, 1978 by the Texas Rangers. Torres started 1978 back in the minor leagues for the first time in three years, playing for the Tucson Toros. He got off to a hot start, batting .346 with 7 home runs in just 30 games. On May 16, Rusty was traded again to the Chicago White Sox along with Claudell Washington for, Bobby Bonds. After spending a few months with the minor league Iowa Oaks, Torres earned another shot at the majors in September. In 16 games down the stretch, Torres managed to hit at a .316 clip in 44 at bats. He was with the Chisox again in '79, but hit just .253 and left for KC via free agency in 1980. I used an autographed photo found on ebay.
Interesting Tidbit: Torres played a pivotal part in MLB's 3 forefits during the 1970's. 1st as a Yankee during the Senators final game in 1971, then as an Indian on 10 cent beer night in 1974 and final as a White Sock during Disco Demolition night on July 12, 1979.
Trout was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the first round of the 1976 draft. He played three years in the minor leagues before joining the White Sox and pitching in his first big league game on July 1, 1978 against the Minnesota Twins. In 3 starts (4 total games) he went 3-0, 4.03 for the '78 Pale Hose. As a 21 year old rookie he went 11-8, 3.89 in 1979. He would remain on the Southside until 1983, when he headed north to Wrigley to play the Cubs for 5 seasons. Trout never reached the potential that the pundits forecasted for him. He did cobble together a 12 year career as one of baseball's dizziest lefties. I found this great autographed action shot via Google search.
Bosley was traded in the off-season to the White Sox with Richard Dotson and Bobby Bonds. He remained with the White Sox organization for three years and later played for the Milwaukee Brewers, Seattle Mariners, and Chicago Cubs, distinguishing himself as one the best pinch hitters in the majors. During the 1985 season, Bosley hit .328 and was voted the best pinch hitter in baseball. During the '78 season he hit .269 in over 200 at bats. Throughout his career he was a solid clutch performer, who didn't have enough pop to play as a regular corner outfielder.
Spencer managed three teams to their respective league minor league championships: the Asheville Tourists (1984), Geneva Cubs (1987), and Charlotte Knights (1997). His major league playing career consisted of 29 games with the Chisox in 1978. In 65 at bats he hit .185. He played all 3 outfield spots. During his 12 minor league seasons as a player he was a solid .272 hitter who never displayed much power. In 1974, while with Cincy's Indianpolis AAA affilite he hit 14 homers, which was the only time he posted double figures in his career. He spent most of '78 at Knoxville (AA-CHW) and hit .331 in 81 games before being recalled to Chicago. i took this B&W photo and colorized his jersey and cap.