Sunday, December 2, 2007

Rudy Law

What would the 1983 White Sox team do without Rudy Law? Certainly not 20 games in front of second place. Rudy set a White Sox record for stolen bases in 1983. His 77 thefts eclipsed Luis Aparicio's single season club record of 56 in 1959.

The White Sox acquired Rudy from the Dodgers in 1982 for Cecil Espy and Bert Geiger. Rudy excelled from the moment he put on his Sox uniform. He hit .318 in 1982, but his batting average kept dipping down to .251 in 1984 and would settle around that area the rest of his career. He ended up batting .259 in 1985, his final year with the Sox, and .261 in 1986, his final year in the majors.

Rudy may have started his decline when the Sox asked him to give up his uniform number in 1984. Number 11 was also worn by Luis Aparicio on the Sox. Luis was voted into the Hall Of Fame in 1984 and the Sox wanted to retire his number. It sounds stupid, but a uniform number change can have negative aspects on a player. Call it superstition or a mental advantage, but players get very attached to their numbers. It's grown from a practice of numbering the batting order to an almost spiritual awakening. For some players at least. Some just don't care.

Rudy never got close to 77 steals again. The most he could get in a season was 29 after the uniform number change. He became expendable after the 1985 season. Rudy was picked up by the Royals in 1986 through free agency. He played in the senior league in 1990, but only played 8 games for the San Bernardino Pride before the league folded.

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