Thursday, March 12, 2015

WSC Birth Years: Will Ferrell

Card #174 - Will Ferrell

Born: July 16, 1967

On March 12, 2015, Will was traded to the Chicago White Sox by the Cincinnati Reds. The former Reds third baseman became the new White Sox designated hitter and the Pale Hose became Ferrell's seventh team in one day.

Will made a spectacular entrance via helicopter into center field, where he swaggered to the dugout to receive instruction. Ferrell struck out on five pitches in his only appearance and was quickly traded to the opposing San Francisco Giants to be their new catcher. He changed uniforms in the Giants dugout and was inserted into the game, becoming the first person to be traded and play for both teams in the same half inning of a single game.

Ferrell started off playing shortstop for the Oakland Athletics, who then traded him to the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners played him at second base, but them they traded him to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who put Will in center field replacing Mike Trout. The Angels traded Ferrell to the Chicago Cubs for a washing machine. The Cubs used Will as a third base coach, then decided he should man first base. He made his first plate appearance and struck out. The Diamondbacks acquired Ferrell for some ballpark food and put him in left field. Will was traded to the Cincinnati Reds, who played him at first base. The Reds traded him to the White Sox, who used him as their DH. The Sox traded Ferrell to the Giants, who played him behind the plate. The Giants traded Will to the Dodgers, who used him as a pitcher. The Dodgers then traded Ferrel to the Padres, who put him in right field.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

WSC Birth Years: Minnie Minoso

Card #173 - Minnie Minoso

Born: November 29, 1925

As the first black Cuban player to appear in the MLB, Minnie paved the way for countless athletes after him. After becoming a star in the Cuban and Negro Leagues, Minoso signed a contract with the Cleveland Indians and made his MLB debut on April 19, 1949. He bounced between the parent club and the minors, mostly due to racial tensions of the time and not lack of talent, until he was traded to the Chicago White Sox on April 30, 1951, in a three team trade also involving the Philadelphia Athletics.

Minnie hit Chicago with a bang, hitting a 415 foot home run on the very first pitch he saw in his first at-bat against the Yankees on May 1, 1951. The Cuban Comet was second only to Mickey Mantle in WAR, runs scored, total bases, extra base hits, most times on base and runs created from 1951 until 1961 in the American League. He was second to Nellie Fox in triples and hits in the AL from 1951 to 1961. Minoso was also second to Luis Aparicio in stolen bases in the same period in the American League. Minnie would stay with the ChiSox from 1951 until 1957 before being traded to the Cleveland Indians for the 1958 and 1959 seasons. He came back to Chicago for the 1960 and 1961 seasons, spent 1962 playing for the St. Louis Cardinals, played for the Washington Senators during the 1963 season, and came back to the White Sox for the 1964, 1976 and 1980 seasons. He made appearances with the Miami Miracle of the Florida State League and the St. Paul Saints in 2003, to become the only player to have played professionally in seven different decades.

Minoso (aka Mr. White Sox) would make public relations appearances with the Chicago White Sox, up until his death on March 1, 2015. No matter where he went in his baseball life, Minnie always came back to the White Sox.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

RIP Minnie Minoso

“I know that baseball fans have me in their own Hall of Fame -- the one in their hearts. That matters more to me than any official recognition. If it's meant to be, it's meant to be, and I am truly honored to be considered. I've given my life to baseball, and the game has given me so much.” ~ Minnie Minoso

Saturday, February 21, 2015

WSC Birth Years: Chris Bassitt

Card #172 - Chris Bassitt

Born: February 22, 1989

Chris was drafted by the White Sox in the sixteenth round of the 2011 amateur draft. He steadily climbed the ranks in the farm system until he comfortably settles in Birmingham AA. Bassitt made his MLB debut on August 30, 2014, at home, against the Detroit Tigers. He went six and a third innings, picking up the loss.

The outings slowly improved, until Chris was able to cut a seven plus ERA down to 3.94 over six appearances. Bassitt would get revenge over the Tigers, this time in Detroit, on September 22, 2014, when he would blank the Motor City Kitties over seven and two-thirds innings for his first MLB win.

Before the 2015 season, Chris was traded to Oakland, along with Marcus Semien, Josh Phegley and Rangel Ravelo for pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Michael Ynoa.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Draft Years: 1966

 With the eighteenth pick of the 1966 draft, the Chicago White Sox selected Carlos May. Reggie Jackson was long gone by that point and so were a few men who had nice careers. All things considered Carlos May was not a bad pick.

May had a ten year MLB career, was The Sporting News' Rookie of the Year, a two-time All-Star and is the only player ever to wear his birth month and date on his uniform (May 17), when he switched his uniform number from 29 to 17. Perhaps he would have played longer and had better numbers if he hadn't injured himself during a stint with the Marine Reserves in 1969, where Carlos blew off one of his thumbs. Even so, he did very well for himself after the injury. He played from 1968 until 1977 in the majors, then played in Japan for four additional years.

There was a player taken by the Minnesota Twins as the sixtieth pick in the draft...

Steve Garvey.

A ten-time All-Star, who had four consecutive Gold Gloves and an MVP during a nineteen year career, Steve Garvey would have been a better selection in hindsight. For whatever reason Steve did not sign with the Twins in 1966. He would be drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1968 and play fourteen of his nineteen seasons with them.

There's no guarantee that Garvey would have signed if he was picked higher in the draft in 1966, but it definitely would have been an interesting path if he did. Carlos May was a really good sign. Steve Garvey would have been better.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

WSC All-Stars: Eddie Smith 1941

Card #17 - Eddie Smith

Eddie replaced New York Yankees outfielder Charlie Keller in the lineup for the top of the eighth, taking over the pitching mound from Washington Senators pitcher Sid Hudson, who blew a save opportunity. Eddie pitched two innings, giving up a two-run homer to Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Arky Vaughan, also scoring St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Johnny Mize, who doubled to right field.

The American League was down five to two, when Boston Red Sox outfielder Dom DiMaggio scored his brother Joe with a single in the eighth. Eddie came back out and retired the side in the ninth. He was pinch hit for by Cleveland Indians third baseman Ken Keltner in the bottom of the eighth, but New York Yankees outfielder Joe DiMaggio ground into a fielder's choice at second to score Keltner, then Boston Red Sox outfielder Ted Williams hit a three-run home run to score New York Yankees second baseman Joe Gordon and Joe DiMaggio to win the game for Eddie Smith.

Monday, February 16, 2015

2015 Topps Toys R Us Series One

This is the best that the Topps flagship set has looked in a few years. After nearly blending in with Bowman and old Fleer sticker designs in the past couple of years, Topps has broken out with a sharp design that looks visually interesting without retreading too many past designs... then they tinted it purple and randomly inserted three cards per blister pack, all of which I have to sign for at work, when UPS drops them off.

Normally, Target and Wal-Mart have their own set Topps parallel colored sets (Target red and Wal-Mart blue), but this year, they have decided against retail exclusive parallel sets and instead opted for retail exclusive insert sets following the exploits of Jackie Robinson and Babe Ruth. Toys R Us stands alone this year in all its purple majesty. I'm not quite sure why Target and Wal-Mart bowed out of the parallel sets this year, but it is a welcome change of pace. I had a love/hate relationship with three retail exclusive parallels and the trouble of chasing them all.

The White Sox have seven cards in the set.

22 - Tyler Flowers
65 - Alexei Ramirez
176 - Jose Abreu
177 - Paul Konerko
256 - Adam Eaton
276 - Conor Gillaspie
341 - Chris Sale (Corey Kluber, Felix Hernandez)

A short but sweet set for the White Sox that includes a final card for Paul Konerko is a nice thing. I suspect that with so few ChiSox cards in series one and so much offseason activity, that there will be a nice chunk of Pale Hose cards in series two. It will be nice to have this set in the Toys R Us purple.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

WSC Legends: Cespedes - Henderson

Card #7 - Yeonis Cespedes/Rickey Henderson

WSC Vintage: Vic Frazier

Card #50 - Vic Frazier

Staring out his career with the Class A Dallas Steers in 1928, Vic was a workhorse with slightly below average stuff, but in the 1929 season, he managed to turn his luck around, making a 4-12 record from the previous season turn into a 16-8 record, while lowering his ERA almost by two. Frazier made his MLB debut with the White Sox on April 18, 1931, in Cleveland, against the Indians. He would give up ten hits and eight runs, only five earned, and take the loss during five inning of work.

Vic's best MLB season would be his rookie campaign, where he went 13-15 with a 4.46 ERA in forty-six games. Never again would he reach those heights in the majors. He stuck with the White Sox until 1933, when he was traded to Detroit on June 2nd for Whit Wyatt. He would last with the Tigers through the 1934 season. He would next pop up in the majors in 1937 with the Boston Bees (the modern day Braves), appearing in three games, as a reliever. 1938 would bring him to Class AA pitching for the St. Paul Saints, part of the White Sox farm system. 1939 saw Frazier split time between the Saints and the White Sox, which would be his last gasp in the majors. Vic appeared in ten games for the Pale Hose, sporting a 0-1 record with a 10.27 ERA. In his last MLB appearance, Frazier gave up eleven hits in three and two-thirds innings at Yankee Stadium in New York. Vic came into the game in the fourth inning, relieving Jack Knott and giving up the last eight runs in a 13-3 loss, before being relieved by Eddie Smith.

Frazier would stay with the Class AA St. Paul Saints through the 1940 season. He pitched one game, lasting two innings, in 1941, for the Class B Pensacola Pilots, taking the loss, before calling it a career.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Few Cards From The Writer's Journey

 J.T., of The Writer's Journey fame, is one of the kindest card bloggers out there. We don't set up trades anymore. Sometimes cards just show up at my door, as in the case of this package.

I opened the plain white envelope to find a big Harold Baines Donruss card and a clear bag with a note written on a Carlton Fisk calendar page!

 Inside the calendar page were three baseball cards. One of Adam Eaton, one of Fred Howard and one of Richard Dotson. All in all, a pretty neat little package.

Wait! There's one more surprise.

These cards.
J.T. sent a bunch of them in an earlier package and I went gaga over them. Thanks for sending over a few more and thanks for the White Sox cards. I will be sending a little package out to you shortly.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Draft Years: 1965

 Drafting amateur players can be tricky. Hindsight is usually 20/20. Mistakes are made, bets are lost, but the risk can be worth the reward in rare cases.

The MLB amateur draft began in 1965. Since then, the process has essentially been a lottery for young talent. Most players drafted will never sniff the majors. The ones who do make it have a better shot at having a cup of coffee in the big show than to be a household name.

Big hype can fizzle quickly. Some players won't sign. There are all sorts of obstacles in the way of a successful pick, let alone a successful career. There are other factors to think about as well. Teams sometimes draft to fill holes in their roster. Sometimes the best candidate just won't be what a team is looking for. Other times, sure-fire picks end up going nowhere. Some decisions are based on money, some on agents. There are too many factors to get a crystal clear picture, but we can speculate pretty close.

This series will focus on the first pick of each draft for the White Sox.

It's easy to see on the surface why the White Sox chose catcher Ken Plesha with the seventeenth pick of the 1965 draft. He was a local prospect from McCook, Illinois, who went to the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. It had all the makings of a great story; local boy does good, becomes star player with local team.

I have no idea how the selections were made in 1965, but my gut tells me that the selection process wasn't as in depth as it is now. If the White Sox did their homework a little better in 1965, they may have selected another catcher in the same draft...

Johnny Bench.
Four other catchers were selected between Ken Plesha and Johnny Bench. Only Ken Rudolph, selected by the Chicago Cubs at number twenty-six, made the majors, for parts of nine seasons.

Ken Plesha would spend three seasons in the White Sox minor league system before dropping out of baseball. He never rose above A ball.

Johnny Bench would play for seventeen seasons in the majors, win Rookie of the Year, two MVPs, win two World Series, win World Series MVP, make several All-Star appearances and make the Hall of Fame. Bench slipped all the way down to the thirty-sixth player selected in 1965.

While it's easier to play "what if" several decades later, it just goes to show you that even with all of today's information about prospects, nothing is a given, but it is fun to wonder how history could have played out differently.

Monday, February 9, 2015

WSC Birth Years: Taylor Thompson

Card #171 - Taylor Thompson

Born: June 18, 1987

Taylor was originally drafted by the White Sox in the 25th round of the 2008 amateur draft, but chose not to sign. He was again chosen by Chicago in the 44th round of the 2009 draft. There he spent parts of six seasons in the White Sox minor league system. slowly working his way through, until his MLB debut with the Pale Hose on July 20, 2014 against the Houston Astros.

From July 20th until August 3rd, Thompson appeared in five games, giving up nine hits and six runs, culminating in a 10.13 ERA. Each appearance seemed to get progressively worse. Taylor's first two appearances went extremely well. A hit and two strikeouts in his first outing and only a walk and a hit in his second. Then Thompson appeared to derail and his ERA climbed higher in each successive outing. On November 4, 2014, Taylor was claimed off of waivers by the Oakland Athletics.
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