Tuesday, November 27, 2007

John Cangelosi: Sox Star That Never Was

You may recognize this card from the White Sox Cards header. This is John Cangelosi. The 5'8" Cangelosi was the surprise of the White Sox' 1986 spring camp when he displaced the fleet footed Rudy Law and Daryl Boston to win the centerfield job. He stole 50 bases for the White Sox as a rookie in 1986, an American League rookie record at the time. On March 27, 1987, he was traded by the Chicago White Sox to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Jim Winn.

Cangelosi was a non-roster invitee to spring training for the Chicago White Sox in 1991. After a difficult decision (he batted over .400), he was one of the final cuts before the regular season. He was offered a minor league contract based on his impressive showing in spring training. On May 23, 1991, he was traded by the Chicago White Sox to the Milwaukee Brewers for Esteban Beltre.

He never played for the Brewers, but wound up on the Rangers in 1992. 1994 saw him on the Mets. The Astros had the pleasure of having him return to his base stealing for 1995 and 1996. In 1997, he finally picked a winner, the Florida Marlins. John finally got a ring for his efforts. He even became the first position player to pitch in Marlins history. He stuck with the Marlins until 1998. In 1999, he only played in 7 games for the Rockies. His only hit in 1999 was a double on September 17th against the Dodgers. It was John's last major league hit. His last game was on September 22, 1999 against the Diamondbacks.

Back when I was nine and John was a rookie on the White Sox, he was one of the main reasons I wanted to go to games. I loved to watch Cangelosi steal bases. My dad, who had no interest in baseball at the time, even started to root for him at the games we went to. My dad still remembers a game that we went to late in the season. I told him that Cangelosi was going to get on base, then steal second and Daryl Boston was going to sacrifice him to third. That's exactly what happened! My dad has listened to me on baseball matters ever since.

I was convinced that John would do great things in a White Sox uniform. I was crushed when I heard he was traded to Pittsburgh the next year. I learned that year, at the age of 10, that baseball was a business. That still didn't sour me on baseball though. It taught me to pay attention more to what was going on off the field. That lesson still sticks with me today. I'm still convinced that if John stayed with the White Sox, his career would have took off. That really wasn't up to John though.

Some of this text was borrowed from Wikipedia, but I think it's OK to re-post some of that here. I wrote it after all. Plus, I gave credit to the site. I was just sick of the lack of information about one of my favorite players from my youth. So, a few months ago I decided to research what I could and post it to Wikipedia. I think John deserves more recognition. If you ever saw Cangelosi play in his prime, you'd feel the same way.


Anonymous said...

This is random, but John moved out to the 'burbs during the "twilight" of his career. I remember being really excited to see him out mowing his lawn, and he was always great about the neighborhood kids gawking. He'd be out and about playing ball outside with kids- I think he had two little kiddos of his own. I could be making this up, but I think he let my little brother see his Marlins WS ring one time. Either way, I remember him as a very nice guy in the neighborhood and hope he is doing well wherever he is now. Your story made me smile, and I'm glad there are loyal fans out there for good players who also seem to be good guys.

Steve Gierman said...

That's a great story of your own! Thanks for sharing! As recently as a year ago, I heard that John was a batting instructor in a Lockport, IL facility designed for kids.

Summer of '59 Fan said...

I was watching MLB Channel's 20 greatest games last night and the 1997 Marlins/Indians WS game 7 was the feature. Out of the blue I hear John Cangelosi's name and make a mental note to refresh a pleasant memory of my youth, which led me to this posting. I rooted hard for this exciting Sox hopeful during his rookie season, but, like they say, you can't steal first base. Thanks for the memories!

Joe Blow said...

One of my favorites too.

A class of players that never really get a chance. Good speed, good defence, good OBP, but no slugging.

Unless they play SS or 2B they're gone as soon as the team can find someone who slugs .400 no matter what else he can't do.

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