Tag Archives: white sox

Historic Rookies: “Shoeless” Joe Jackson In 1911

Many baseball fans consider the Legendary outfielder “Shoeless” Joe Jackson to be one of the greatest players ever. He had a very good career but unfortunately is most remembered as a member of the 1919 Black Sox scandal. One of the most impressive parts of his career is one that is often overlooked, the beginning.

The Legendary "Shoeless" Joe Jackson. (Getty Images)

The Legendary “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. (Getty Images)

Joe Jackson began his major league career in 1908 with the Philadelphia Athletics. He would end his time with the Athletics after the 1909 season. During his two seasons with the club he only played in ten games. With 40 total at bats he only reach base 7 times. He would start the 1910 season with the minor league New Orleans Pelicans but signed on to the Major League Cleveland Naps at the end of the season. He finished playing 20 games and had 75 at bats, 29 hits and a batting average of .387. It was clear following the 1910 season that Jackson had great potential.

Joe Jackson returned to the Naps in 1911 for his first full season in the Major Leagues. Jackson played a total of 147 games and led the Naps to 80-73 record (3rd best in the American League). Jackson had one of the greatest rookie seasons baseball has ever seen with a rookie batting average record of .408. His batting average in 1911 stands as the second best single season batting record to this day. Jackson notched 233 hits, 7 home runs and batted in 83 runs. “Shoeless” Joe showed everyone a preview of how great his career would become. He was traded from the Naps to the Chicago White Sox during the 1915 season.

Joe Jackson was banned from baseball following the 1919 Black Sox scandal that tarnished the name of baseball. When his career was finished he had a career bating average of .356, 1,772 hits, 54 home runs and 785 RBI’s. He would be in the Hall Of Fame today if not for the controversy he found himself in following the 1919 World Series. Over one hundred years after “Shoeless” Joe amazed the baseball world he legend still lives on and will be remembered forever.

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“Shoeless” Joe Jackson And The 1919 World Series

On October 1, 1919 the World Series began at Redland Field in Cincinnati, OH in front of a crowd of 30,511 fans.  The teams on the field were the Chicago White Sox and the Cincinnati Reds. No one knew that day that what they were witnessing would later beconsidered the most controversial World Series ever.  When the Series was finished on October 9, 1919 the Reds were crowned Champions by winning five games in the best of nine Series.  Baseball fans all over the country were shocked ass the White Sox were considered the best team in baseball by many.  What unfolded in the next 2 years following the 1919 World Series has been chronicled very heavily in the last ninety years.  

In 1920 it became public the that eight players on the 1919 Chicago White Sox team might have intentionally thrown the World Series.  The allegation was that these players had conspired with gamblers to throw the Series in exchange for a payoff of $5,000 each.  The case was later investigated by a Grand Jury to determine what exactly happened and if any criminal acts had been committed.

"Shoeless" Joe Jackson. (Getty Images)

“Shoeless” Joe Jackson. (Getty Images)

The most prominent of those eight players was “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.  Jackson’s involvement made the story even more interesting.  Jackson is considered one of the greatest baseball players to ever play the game.  In his 23 season career he batted .375, collected 1,772 hits, 54 home runs and 785 RBI’s.  

In 1921 the Grand Jury convinced in Chicago and eventually acquitted all eight players of committing any crime.  Shortly thereafter The Commissioner Of Baseball Kenesaw Mountain Landis banned all eight players from the game of baseball for life.  Landis logic was even though the players had been acquitted, they left a black eye of the game of baseball and must be thrown out in order to clean up baseball’s image.  Because of this action one of the greatest baseball players ever is not allowed in The National Baseball Hall of Fame, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.

His performance during the 1919 World Series was very impressive.  During the eight games Jackson had 12 hits, batted .375 and committed no errors.  He had the most hits and highest batting average of any player on either team.  To think he was involved in the throwing of the world series is unfathomable.  His play told a completely different story, one of a man playing his heart out and trying to help his team win.

The fact that a Grand Jury acquitted the eight players is also a strong statement.  Landis felt like he had to make a statement about the supposed infraction that had occurred.  Landis went too far by banning the players for life and ruining any possibility that these players could be immortalized in the Hall of Fame.  Many baseball fans hold out hope that one day the ban will be lifted by a future Commissioner of Baseball and “Shoeless” Joe will be able to take his place where he deserves to be, the Hall Of Fame.

On This Day In 1993: Nolan Ryan Put Robin Ventura In A Headlock

Nolan Ryan was 46 years of age when the 1993 MLB season began.  He announced that he would retire at the end of the season.  Nolan Ryan had pitched magic through four decades and was ready to call it a career.  The last big moment in his pitching career came not from his pitches but from his fists.

On August 4th, 1993 the visiting Chicago White Sox were in Arlington to take on the Texas Rangers.  Nolan Ryan was on the mound for the Rangers.  After giving up 2-runs to the White Sox in the first inning he was facing young third baseman Robin Ventura.  Ventura had hit for an RBI single off of Ryan in the first inning.  On his first pitch Ryan beaned Ventura in the elbow.

Nolan Ryan fighting at age 46.  (Getty Images)

Nolan Ryan fighting at age 46. (Getty Images)

Robin Ventura appeared to be walking to first base when he suddenly threw his helmet down and charged at the mound.  Ryan calmly side stepped Ventura and put him in a headlock with is left arm.  Ryan proceeded to punch the 26 year old Ventura in the face approximately 6 times before his catcher Ivan Rodriguez could pull him away.  The teams quickly cleared the bench and a wild brawl ensued.  When the field was cleared 5 minutes later, Ventura and his manager Gene Lamont were ejected from the game by the Umpire.  Ryan would not be ejected due to the fact he never left the mound until Ventura reached him.

Nolan Ryan would leave the game in the seventh inning with his team leading 5-2.  The score would not change and Ryan received the win.  It was his third win of the season.

Nolan Ryan would only pitch for a few more times before his arm was finally thrown out in late September.  This is not only one of the many memorable Nolan Ryan moments but it was the most memorable baseball fight of the 1990s.  The fight was played numerous times on television newscasts the next day.  Everyone was happy to see a 46 year old Ryan school Robin Ventura who was 20 years his junior.  It showed how tough Ryan really was and baseball fans nation wide loved it.  This was an incredible moment for Ryan to end his final season on.

Ron Blomberg Was The First DH 40 Years Ago Today

Ron Blomberg (Getty Images)

Ron Blomberg (Getty Images)

He may not be a household name but he has become a great trivia fact.  On April 6th, 1973 New York Yankee Ron Blomberg became the first Designated Hitter (DH) in baseball history.  This first came in game against the rival Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.  Blomberg was walked in his first home plate appearance against pitcher Luis Tiant.  Blomberg finished the season with a .321 batting average in 301 plate appearances.  His career ended with the Whit Sox after the 1978 season.

To this day the DH remains exclusive to the American League.  The DH position has caused mush controversy and excitement over the years.  Many have debated through the years that the DH position hurts the game.  Most feel that in the game of baseball the pitcher should be in the hitting lineup.   The DH has been criticized for taking away from baseball’s tradition.  40 years later I think it is safe to say that it has become apart of the tradition, at least in the American League.

How The 1994 MLB Strike Ended Michael Jordan’s Baseball Career

In November of 1993 just shortly after the murder of his father, Michael Jordan retired from basketball.  Jordan had revolutionized basketball with his high skill set and magnetic charisma. He had already cemented his position in the Hall Of Fame and was arguably the most popular athlete in the history of America. After nine seasons in the NBA and three straight NBA titles it was all over.

As 1994 began Michael Jordan soon announced that he would try his hand at professional baseball.  Mostly because it was the one sport his father wanted to see him succeed at when he was growing up.  It would be a tribute to his father he said. The owner of the Chicago Bulls was Jerry Reinsdorf and he also happened to own the Chicago White Sox.  Reinsdorf being the smart and adventurous business man he was knew that Michael Jordan would be a huge money draw in baseball.  He agreed to sign Jordan to a minor league contract and pay him the same amount that he was contracted to receive with his Bulls contract.  It was a done deal and the media and fans clamored to see Jordan make his debut in baseball.

Michael Jordan the "baseball player" (Getty Images)

Michael Jordan the “baseball player” (Getty Images)

As spring training began for the White Sox in Sarasota, Florida the Michael Jordan circus began.  The media was always around and were focused solely on Jordan.  They followed his batting practices, fielding practices and watched his every move.  The fans also swarmed him every chance they could get, hoping they could snag an autograph of one of the greatest basketball players ever.  The attendance for White Sox games that spring shot through the roof and many fans were unable to even get a ticket to the spring games.  Michael Jordan played his first official spring training game on March 3, 1994 as an outfielder.  He would play 17 games that spring and on March 31, 1994 was optioned to the White Sox minor league affiliate the Birmingham Barons.

The city of Birmingham was set on fire by the Michael Jordan experience.  They sold out more games than they had ever before and had major media at almost every game.  It was a treat for the fans of the Barons to get to see such a great athlete trying to make it in a sport he had not played since high school.  Jordan had an average season with many ups and downs.  He batted .202, hit 3 home runs and batted in 51 runs.  Jordan played 127 games in that season and struck out 114 times.  He definitely had a rough time but did make improvements by the end of the season.

Jordan being Jordan wanted to work more on his baseball skills and decided to play in the Arizona Fall League following his first minor league season.  In that short season for the Scottsdale Scorpions Jordan batted a .252.  While not great by professional baseball standards he did improve even more in the fall league and was poised to continue his development in 1995.

Unfortunately Major League Baseball was still dealing with the 1994 players strike when the 1995 Spring Training season was to begin.  As the battle between the owners and the players union intensified the lines were being drawn.  The players were deciding whether to sit out until a deal could be arranged or to play anyways.  Jordan reported to camp in Florida initially in February of 1995. He would end up deciding in March not to be involved in the drama and chose to sit out while the strike continued.

It was during this time in mid march of 1995 Jordan attended a Chicago Bulls game.  just two weeks later he was on the court playing basketball again.  Many fans where excited to have his talents back in basketball and did not care that he quite his baseball career.  Jordan would go onto win three more NBA Titles and retired from basketball for good after the 2002-03 season.

Because his basketball career picked up right where it left off in 1993 not many questioned the decision.  It makes one wonder almost two decade’s later what would have been if not for the baseball players strike of 1994.  Would Michael Jordan continued until he was either cut or made it to the Major Leagues?  That is hard to say but it was clear he was on the right track to eventually play at the Major League level.  He was only 32 when he went back to basketball and had time to develop into an even better baseball player.

We will never know where baseball could have taken Michael Jordan.  We wont ever know where Jordan could have taken baseball had he stayed.  The popularity of baseball would have likely increased after the horrible strike and maybe Jordan could have been the face of baseball.  All we can do now is imagine what could have been but it is clear to see that the baseball strike deterred Jordan from continuing his baseball dream.

The Pursuit Of Baseball In Tampa

The State of Florida has been the home of Spring Training since the early part of the 1900s. Up until 1993 Florida never had a professional baseball team to call their own.  The Florida Marlins who were based in the Miami area were the first.  The Tampa Bay Devil Rays were soon to follow in 1998.  But Florida has a deep history of pursuing Major League Baseball before they received their teams in the 1990s.
It started in 1983 in the Tampa Bay area when local city officials considered building a baseball stadium to house a pro team.  Construction began in 1986 on what is now known as Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.  It was completed in 1990.  At the time there were no expansion franchises being granted for any city.  So they sought a team the best way they could, trying to lure a team from their current city.
Tropicana Filed,  The stadium that would bring baseball to the Tampa Bay area. (Getty Images)

Tropicana Filed, The stadium that would bring baseball to the Tampa Bay area. (Getty Images)

The Chicago White Sox were the first team that Tampa pursued.  In 1989 The White Sox were not happy in the old Comiskey Park and wanted a new stadium.  They flirted with Tampa for a while before ultimately getting their new stadium and staying in Chicago.
The next team that was rumored was the Seattle Mariners.  The talks did not go very far and the Mariners remained in Washington.
Tampa had their hearts broken in 1991 when they were denied an expansion franchise.  The Miami area won out instead of Tampa and the Florida Marlins came into existence.  The Marlins played the first ever regular season game in Florida in April of 1993.
The closest that Tampa ever came to stealing a team away from a city was in 1993.  The San Francisco Giants owners were looking to sell and a group of investors from Tampa were looking to buy them.   The deal was almost done.  The local baseball fans were already celebrating and then the bad news came.  The sale was vetoed by the National League Owners.  The Giants remained in San Francisco and Tampa was still without a team.
That was until in 1995 when they were granted an expansion franchise.  The Tampa Bay Devil Rays played their first regular season game in 1998.
The past does make one wonder how different things would be if the White Sox, Mariners or Giants would have relocated to Tampa.  If the White Sox or Mariners would have moved would there have been a team in Miami in 1993?  Probably not, there more than likely would have been years later though.  The Giants move would have been interesting.  The city of San Francisco would probably have a different team right now.  There is no way that City would be without a team for too long, not with their tradition and history.

It’s really incredible how things turned out for Tampa.  They took a huge risk by building a stadium without having a team for it.  For many years they looked like failures.  Many in the city thought they would never have a team to call their own.  But Tampa proved to be very persistent and got what they wanted in the end.

The MLB Playoffs Are Quickly Approaching

The long baseball season is nearing its end.  The summer is coming to an end and the Fall season is about to start.  With it will come the Major League Baseball Playoffs.  The first games of the playoffs start next weekend.  So let’s take a look at what teams are approaching the playoffs in this final week of the season.

The American League

The interesting note of the week is that no A.L. teams have clinched a playoff spot yet.  It has been a tight race for all of the divisional spots and especially for the two Wild Card spots.

East

In the East there is great competition between the division leading New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles.  The Yankees only lead that division by one game with the Rays in third place by only 5 games.

Central

The Central division has seen the Chicago White Sox fall quite a bit in the past week.  The White Sox are trailing the Detroit Tigers in the division by one game.  The third place team in the division is held by the Kansas City Royals who are fourteen games behind and have no hope for the playoffs.

West

The Western division has just as tight of a race as the Eastern division.  The Texas Rangers hold the top position with a record of 92-65.  The Oakland A’s have been surging ahead in the final month of the season and are only three games behind the Rangers.  In third place five games behind the Rangers are the Anaheim Angels. The Angels got off to a bad start at the beginning of the season but were able to turn their season around in the summer months.

Wild Card

Only six games separate the top five teams in the Wild Card race.  The Baltimore Orioles and the Oakland A’s are in the top spots.  The Angels are two games back.  The Rays are three games back, while the White Sox are six games back and will likely only be able to enter the playoffs with winning the Central division.

The National League

The almost half of the playoff spots in the N.L. have been claimed.  All but one of the divisions have champions already, which takes some of the excitement away.

East

This is the only division where a champion has not yet been crowned.  With the third place team the Phillies seventeen games back, its between only the Braves and the Nationals for the crown.  The Nationals have shocked the baseball world with an incredible season and they currently hold the top spot.  The braves are trailing by four games and still have a chance at winning the division.  Both the Nationals and Braves have clinched playoff spots.  The only question is which one will be the division champion and which one will be in the wild card position.

Central

The Cincinnati Reds won the division this past week.  They appear to be a team that could contend for the World Series Title in October.

West

The San Fransisco Giants won the division championship just a few days ago.  This team has been a great team built for the playoffs for a few years now.  The Giants won the World Series in 2010 and are looking to win their second in three years.

Wild Card

With the Braves having clinched a playoff birth there is only one wild card spot remaining.  The St Louis Cardinals hold the remaining spot at the moment.  The Dodgers and the Brewers are the only two teams that still have a chance for the remaining wild card.  The Dodgers are three games back while the Brewers are five back.  The Dodgers have been turning downward as September rolls along.  The Brewers have to win their remaining five games to have a chance.  The Cardinals will likely hold their position and go into a wild card playoff game with the Braves.