Monday, December 3, 2007

Officer Down

As much as this pains me to say it, the best catcher the Sox had in the late eighties and early to mid-nineties was Ron Karkovice. This was a hard realization to come to being a huge Carlton Fisk fan. But there's a reason why Carlton Fisk was forced out in 1993. It was Officer Karkovice.

Ron was drafted in the first round of the 1982 draft by the White Sox. He came up through the Sox system and made his major league debut on August 17, 1986. He started as Fisk's backup, then slowly started to get into more games as the years went by.

Carlton Fisk started to break down a bit and would be moved occasionally to DH or first base to give him a rest from catching. The main reason this was done was to get Officer Karkovice behind the plate. Ron had a much better percentage for throwing out base stealers and the White Sox knew it. Carlton would bring the crowd in, but Ron would mow the opposition down on the base paths.

Ron was good defensively, but had a hell of a time getting consistency at the plate. The highest he ever batted was .264 and that was in 1989. After Fisk was released, right after he broke the catcher's games caught record in 1993, Ron was lucky to hit above the Mendoza line. That really sucks for a hitter, but his defense was awesome. That's what kept him in a job.

Ron was granted free agency on Halloween of 1997. He signed with the Cleveland Indians in January 1998, but never played for them. Ron's last game was with the White Sox on September 26, 1997. Karko got a home run and a sacrifice resulting in 3 RBI in his final game. He ended up going 1-3.

It's not too bad when your last hit is a home run. I'm sure if Ron knew that would be his last game, he would have cherished that home run. He was lifted late in the game and replaced by Jorge Fabregas. The Sox had two more games to play after this one. So, Ron had a chance of getting into another game, but it was never meant to be.

Ron can only be remembered as a White Sox player. Twelve years in the majors and that was his only team. I don't know what is the greater accomplishment in Ron's career, his stellar defense or staying his whole career with one team. I'd say both are pretty impressive.

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