1992 Ultra #41 - Donn Pall
I remember really liking Donn Pall when he was with the White Sox. Every time I saw an interview with Donn, he had a big infectious goofy smile. He truly loved the White Sox. After all, he grew up not far from Comiskey Park as a White Sox fan in Evergreen Park, Illinois.
It was always special when someone who is a fan finds himself on the team he rooted for as a kid. Sometimes it works out. Sometimes it doesn't. When Donn first came up, in 1988, the White Sox were in shambles. It would only get worse through the 1989 season, as the Sox finished in seventh place.
Perhaps it was this factor that really endeared Donn Pall to many fans. It's hard to root for a last place team. I don't care how much of a fan you are. Sure, you still support the team. You still watch and you still cherish every victory. Losing grates on the fans as well as the players after awhile. The players that have great attitudes slip into the hearts of the fans and it's hard to shake.
When the White Sox rebounded in 1990 with 94 wins, firmly taking second place to an unbelievable Oakland Athletics team, it was more than just a moral victory. The players who survived the devastation of the past few years were vindicated. The fans who stuck with the team were rewarded. Players emerged from the wreckage of the late eighties teams just before the wrecking ball fell on their baseball palace.
Jack McDowell, Bobby Thigpen and Robin Ventura became household names along with the likes of Carlton Fisk and the traded Harold Baines. Players who would normally not be given a second thought entered the minds of Chicagoans on a daily basis. Donn Pall was one of those players.
Besides the sheer joy that Donn exuded in every interview, he really sealed his place in team lore when Tim Raines was traded to the team. He selflessly gave up his number thirty to the incoming Rock Raines and switched to number twenty-two. In many fans' minds, this was just another example of a class act by a local talent done good.
One of the first autographed baseballs (possibly the first) that I owned was from Donn Pall. I still have that ball and it is up front and center among the few autographed balls that I have in my collection. During the 1993 pennant run, it was hard to see Donn traded to the Phillies that September. For some fans, it was even harder to see him pop up on the Cubs later the next year. I'm sure it did wonders for his family life. If I recall correctly, he married into a family of Cubs fans.
Donn may be a common to most people, but he was a special part of many White Sox teams to me. I will always hold Donn Pall in a higher regard because of how he acted on and off the field, with the White Sox. It was great to spy Donn on the field on August 29, 2010, taking part in Frank Thomas' number retirement. Donn may never receive that honor himself, but that doesn't mean he wasn't in the fans' hearts.