Tuesday, April 12, 2011
10,000th Home Run
So everything was in place, security and ushers were alerted and on the lookout, our plan for what gifts to provide the fan who caught the ball were all set and our scoreboard staff was clued in and ready for the 10,000th home run in franchise history.
Now, all we needed was a long ball.
Brent Lillibridge, OK admittedly not my guess, provided the spark in the fifth inning when his line drive cleared the left-center field fence.
I headed down to reception to greet the fan and tell them what they’d won. Half-way down, the call came in on the phone.
“We have the ball … and don’t worry about the fan.”
Instead of a dramatic event, announcing a winner from “Berwyn,” and a fun little PR story, real life got in the way. Lillibridge’s home run cleared the fence but didn’t reach the stands. It rattled down and fell between the fence and the base of the seats.
TK, a security guard who mans the Sox bullpen, casually walked underneath, picked up the ball and sent it on its way to me. Maybe we should give him the autographed bat and a ceremonial first pitch!
The ball was authenticated and handed to me after the game. I ran it upstairs to Jeff Szynal, our scoreboard guru and resident HOF curator, and now it sits — soon to be on display — on Jeff’s desk.
So much for a good story. Best laid plans …
The four active White Sox minor league affiliates have combined to start the year with an 11-4 record, including a 5-0 mark at Class AAA Charlotte, where Jake Peavy makes his second rehab start tomorrow.
Designated hitter Adam Dunn returns to the White Sox lineup tonight and makes his Sox debut at U.S. Cellular Field.
Lastings Milledge cleared waivers and accepted his outright assignment to Class AAA Charlotte.
Sox are 6-1 in day games and 0-3 at night. Yikes
Because of the Blackhawks playoff schedule, our game on Friday night against the Angels will begin on Comcast main channel as well as CSN+ at 7:10 pm CT. At 8:30 pm, the game will go exclusively to CSN+ as the BHawks game begins.
Monday, April 11, 2011
A Day of Notes
- Tonight’s matchup between lefties Mark Buehrle of the White Sox and Oakland’s Dallas Braden is the 21st in major-league history featuring opposing starting pitchers who have thrown perfect games (third in White Sox history).
- The last three matchups of perfect game pitchers in the big leagues have been between David Wells and Randy Johnson, most recently on 4/24/07 when San Diego’s Wells (5 ER/5.0 IP) won over Arizona’s Johnson (6 ER/5.0 IP) at Chase Field.
- Wells also was involved in both previous White Sox perfect-game matchups, facing Texas’ Kenny Rogers in back-to-back starts on 5/6/01 in Arlington and 5/11/01 in Chicago.
- Buehrle threw the 18th perfect game in major-league history and second in Sox history on 7/23/09 vs. Tampa Bay, while Braden was perfect vs. the Rays on 5/9/10.
Tonight’s Other Storylines
- The White Sox have hit 9,999 home runs in the 112-year history of the franchise.
- White Sox starters own a 1.93 ERA (6 ER/28.0 IP) in the last four games, while the bullpen has a 1.20 mark (2 ER/15.0 IP) in the last six.
- The Sox have led in all nine games this season.
- Paul Konerko, who has recorded an RBI in eight of the Sox nine games, needs one home run to tie Ralph Kiner for 69th all-time with 369.
- Carlos Quentin has 99 career homers.
- Paul Konerko has been named co-American League Player of the Week with Cleveland’s Asdrubal Cabrera.
- Konerko batted .417 (10-24) with three home runs, eight RBI to garner his fourth career weekly honor … he tied for the AL lead in homers and RBI, ranked second in slugging percentage (.833) and third in average.
- Carlos Quentin received the honor last week, marking the first time Sox have players have received the award in consecutive weeks since Jim Thome and Mark Buehrle in July 2009.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
High winds at Sunday’s White Sox victory meant a variety of items flew across the field. Here, Sox shortstop Omar Vizquel picked up a lady’s hat and showed a little style before handing it to the umpire. Too bad they didn’t need the hats at the United Center earlier this afternoon.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Adam Dunn After BP
White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn took batting practice today, saying he felt “good” and that he continued to feel better and better.
“I’m done making predictions,” Dunn said of his return, noting that he swung at less than 100 percent but that he rarely swung at 100 percent except in games.
“I feel like I am being punished,” he admitted, when asked if this had been a learning experience for him. “I don’t want this to ever happen again … but of course it can’t happen again,” he said with a smile.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
30 Years Ago
Bob Rosenberg, longtime Chicago official scorer (pick the sport) and collector of all things Chicago-sports related, recently passed along newspaper clippings to Jerry Reinsdorf (“I’m just catching up,” Rosenberg told me, which begs the question of … “if you’re just catching up with 1980 …”). Jerry passed them along to me, saying, “You might enjoy some of this or want it for our files.”
The clippings are from newspapers of December 1980/January 1981 and feature the debate surrounding Reinsdorf’s purchase of the White Sox and American League approval, which came on January 29, 1981, just over 30 years ago (if Jerry has let us, we would have celebrated his 30th anniversary as owner but he is much more low key than that).
Among the quotes from the then 45-year-old Reinsdorf, “I’ve wanted to own a baseball team since I was a little boy. It’s a fantasy.
“The thing a kid in Brookyln dreamed about being was a ballplayer,” Reinsdorf told Phil Hersh of the Sun-Times. “If that didn’t happen, you wanted somehow to be associated with a ball team.”
I’d say that fantasy came true in spades.
I read a lot, but normally, during the baseball season, I try to avoid reading baseball books (kinda obvious, huh? For example, this spring, I read Pistol Pete, Decision Points and Last of the Mohicans, so go figure). But I did just break my own rule and read “56” by Kostya Kennedy about Joe DiMaggio’s unbreakable hitting streak in the summer of 1941.
It’s a very good read, but three seemingly little things caught my eye.
Many years ago in Oakland — Jerry Manuel was our manager — I was sitting the dugout with Jerry and a little old man out of central casting — tiny, Sansibel slacks, mesh baseball cap — came onto the field.
“Dairo!” Jerry called out, getting up and going to the man with arms outstretched. His respect was apparent.
“Who was that?” I asked Jerry later.
“One of our scouts,” he explained. “He is from SF and played with Joe DiMaggio.”
Dairo Lodigiani. Hmmm. I filed it away.
After we won in 2005, Dairo received his World Series ring and I remember seeing a lot of coverage from the Bay Area about this veteran baseball man, he was in his 90s then, and what a nice gesture it was for the team to remember his contributions.
Filed it away.
Then I read 56. Dairo indeed was one of DiMaggio’s pals from North Beach, but I didn’t realize he also played in the major leagues. An infielder, Dairo found himself playing third base for the White Sox at Comiskey Park one day that summer when his friend was on a just-being-recognized hitting streak of 24 games.
John Rigney was on the mound for the White Sox that day and DiMaggio was 0-3 in his first three times up while the Yankees led, 5-0.
In the seventh inning, Lodigiani played deep and tight to the line as DiMaggio came to the plate, likely for the final time that game. The streak was on the line.
On Rigney’s first pitch, DiMaggio lined a shot at Dairo. The ball hit in front of him and then off his chest, six inches higher and it would have taken out his teeth. Lodi had no time to react. He sprang for the ball and fired to first. The throw was accurate, but the Great DiMaggio beat his throw. Base hit. The streak stayed intact.
How many times had those two competed on the baseball diamonds?
Another story involved Elden Auker. A submariner pitcher with over a decade in the big leagues, Auker was on the mound for the St. Louis Browns when DiMaggio hit safely in his last AB of the day to extend the streak to 38 games.
In 1989, I interned with the Class A Springfield Cardinals of the Midwest League.
We had planned an Old Timers game, and one of my duties was to find as many Old Timers as I could. Somehow, I don’t recall how, we found Auker, who lived in Central Illinois.
He showed up that day in full 1945 era Chicago Cubs uniform, even down to the cleats. If I remember, the Springfield newspaper ran a great photo of him that day.
And he immediately took a spot on the field at third base. I remember thinking to myself, “Oh, my God, we have a 70-something-year-old man standing at third base. He could get killed there.”
To now read about Auker’s career and his competition with DiMaggio brought a smile to my face.
And my last laugh from 56:
One day, someone asked Yankees manager Joe McCarthy if DiMaggio could bunt.
“We’ll never know,” he replied.
Age of Innocence
And this from longtime White Sox fan Bob Vanderberg from 1963’s Opening Day at Comiskey Park:
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Phil Humber (1 ER/6.0 IP) … pronounced Umber … led the White Sox to a 4-2 victory Saturday as the team improved to 5-3 on the season and bounced back from last night’s disappointing loss.
“That’s what good teams do,” said manager Ozzie Guillen, who told the media before the game that he wanted to see how much fight and energy his club brought to today’s game.
“Great,” Guillen said about Humber. “He gave us more than we thought we would get. He was outstanding today.”
Guillen called the ninth inning exchange between catcher A.J. Pierzynski and TB 3B Felipe Lopez “just part of the game,” but gave rave reviews to Sam Fuld’s diving catch in right field to keep the score at 2-1 at the time.
“I don’t remember seeing one better than that,” the manager said, “especially given the situation and where he was playing.”
Nice to see Robin Ventura and his family out at the game today. Typical Robin, he requested seats in the stands instead of plopping down in a suite somewhere. Listen to his message to Sox fans:
Friday, April 8, 2011
What A Day!
“This was a good day.”
That was Jerry Reinsdorf’s comment — with a smile — last night as he sank onto the couch in a suite at the United Center just minutes after the Chicago Bulls defeated the Boston Celtics.
Boy, that’s the truth. What a day! Two games, two victories and a lot of optimism for two sports franchises, one at the start of a long, marathon season, the other on the cusp of what we all hope is an exciting postseason run.
“I should have had a camera crew follow you through the day,” I told him. “This was not a bad way to spend the day.”
Same was true for me. Arrived at the ballpark about 6:30 a.m. to be on site for the morning television shows. Mayor Daley stopped by Bacardi at the Park to sit down with the WGN-TV Morning Show. The clubhouse opened at 9:30, with batting practice and general on-field excitement around Opening Day. Mayor-elect Emanuel stopped by the clubhouse, with Ozzie Guillen and Ken Williams presenting him with a Sox jersey and jacket.
“We are going to convert you,” Guillen said to the Cubs-fan Mayor-elect (who excitedly recalled taking his son to Game 2 of the 2005 World Series).
Then, a great baseball game with an outstanding performance by Edwin Jackson.
After game wrap-up and a blog post or two, off to the United Center for an important Eastern Conference showdown.
Harold Baines beat me to the suite and for the first time in the day, I had a chance to grab some food. Other players arrived, including Sergio Santos, John Danks, Edwin and AJ, and Derrick Rose’s athleticism and showmanship brought several of the guys to their feet time and again during the game.
Finally ended a long day by walking through the door of my house around 10:15 pm. Gotta be honest, there were several times during the day when I had to pinch myself and say to myself, “You are pretty lucky.”
Sometimes it is easy to forget that players are human too and have very human reactions and emotions.
Today, our Media Relations Director Bob Beghtol had Alexei Ramirez come into his office for a sneak peek at his Silver Slugger Award (which will be presented to Alexei prior to Sunday’s game).
Alexei, checked out the trophy, holding it in both arms, and then bent over and gave the bat a quick kiss.
Don’t ever try to tell me these things don’t mean anything to our players.
And let’s hope it’s good karma.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Starting pitcher Edwin Jackson set a franchise record for home openers with 13 strikeouts today in the 5-1 White Sox victory.
“I was able to come out early in the game and establish an early rhythm,” Jackson said. “And just continue on with it. Today, I didn’t really have too many innings were I was too wild. Anytime I can do that and make the hitters put the ball in play, I give myself a better chance to go deep in the game.
“Anytime I’m able to go out and get into an early rhythm and attack the strike zone, I like my odds,” the right-hander said. “I have trouble in the games where I get behind in the count and where I have to throw strikes.
“My main objective is to come out and get outs any way I can.”
Today’s crowd of 38,579 was a sellout.
Paul Konerko has now driven in at least one run in the Sox first six games of the season, a franchise record.
Prior to today’s game, the White Sox designated Lastings Milledge for assignment and purchased the contract of RHP Jeff Gray.
Ozzie Guillen wore a White Sox t-shirt with the letters L-A-P on the front in honor of longtime White Sox investor Larry Pogofsky, who passed away this winter.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
All the hustle and bustle of the home opener, one of the most touching moments for me is always the part of our pregame when we stop and remember all of the members of the extended White Sox family we’ve lost during the past year.
I thought posting those names here as well might reach a larger audience. Before the fun of the first pitch today, could every White Sox fan take a minute and remember those White Sox players and staff, as well as other Sox fans no longer with us?
NECROLOGY 2010-2011 (since Opening Day 2010)
KEN HOLCOMBE MARCH 15, 2010 1950-52 P
JOE GATES MARCH 28, 2010 1978-79 2B
DICK KENWORTHY APRIL 22, 2010 1962, 1964-68 3B
MORRIE MARTIN MAY 25, 2010 1954-56 P
CAL McLISH AUGUST 26, 2010 1961 P
RAY COLEMAN SEPTEMBER 18, 2010 1951-52 OF
AL PILARCIK SEPTEMBER 20, 2010 1961 P
BOB SHAW SEPTEMBER 23, 2010 1958-61 P
WALT DROPO NOVEMBER 17, 2010 1955-58 IB
CAL EMERY NOVEMBER 28, 2010 1988 COACH
RON SANTO DECEMBER 2, 2010 1974 INF
PHIL CAVARETTA DECEMBER 17, 2010 1954-55 C
CHUCK TANNER FEBRUARY 11, 2011 1970-74 Manager
LARRY POGOFSKY WHITE SOX INVESTOR
JIM TYREE CHICAGO SUN-TIMES
MARK ZERANG WSCR AUDIO ENGINEER
And the many, many White Sox fans who only will be with us in spirit this home opener.
Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley stopped by Bacardi at the Park this morning and delivered a special Home Opener message to fans. Watch it, HERE.