Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Joey Cora

Nothing really spells out early 90's White Sox baseball like Joey Cora. Chicago seemed to have a love affair with Joey. His attitude and defence were a great asset to the Sox. His bat was not.

Joey was fortunate to be on teams with genuine superstars littered throughout the lineup. Frank Thomas, Robin Ventura, Tim Raines, Bo Jackson, George Bell, Carlton Fisk, and Sammy Sosa (before he found his "ahem" swing) all played alongside Joey at some point on the Sox.

Joey came to the White Sox through a trade with the Padres on March 31, 1991. He hit decently with the Padres, but never found enough game time. He flourished with his time on the Sox, but would have floundered with a lesser team. Two first place finishes with the Sox have put him in the center of Sox lore since the strike. He was also on the team that should have been in the strike shortened 1994 season.

He became a free agent in the long off-season of 1994. He signed with the Mariners in 1995. The change of scenery must have done wonders for Joey. He became a decent hitter in Seattle. Maybe it was the coffee. He topped out at .300 in 1997, which was the same year of his only All-Star selection. That proved to be the high point.

Joey endeared himself to Mariners fans when he openly wept after the 1995 season ended to the Cleveland Indians in Game 6 of the ALCS. A young rookie named Alex Rodriguez put his arm around Joey and consoled him. "Little Joey" was a hit with the ladies after that game. Home games would be littered with signs that read "Marry me, Joey!"

In 1998, with the Mariners out of contention, he was traded to the Indians in August. He only hit .229 in his short stay there. He was granted free agency once again at the end of the season. He signed with the Blue Jays in 1999, but chose to retire instead.

Cora started to manage in the Mets minor league organization. But a call from friend Ozzie Guillen persuaded Joey to become a coach at the major league level with the White Sox. He started off as a third base coach. Joey could be regularly seen waving his arms fanatically to urge the base runners home.

Joey finally got his World Series ring, as a coach, on the 2005 World Champion White Sox team. In the 2006 off-season, Joey was promoted to bench coach. Whenever Ozzie is not managing the club, due to ejection, suspension or family emergencies, Joey takes over as interim manager.

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