April 2012

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Remembering Moose

We received quite a few emails, stories and texts from friends and fans about Moose Skowron and thought everyone might enjoy reading the stories from fans who connected with Moose, even if for a moment.

Hi,

I just heard about Moose’s passing.  We had the opportunity to meet him at our outings and learned very quickly what a great person he was.  The news made me sad, it just brought everything back, just more memories tied to Tommy I think.  It also makes me think about my Dad and I remember him sitting with Moose at one of the outings for an hour just talking about the neighborhood and “the good old days”, like they were old friends.

All of this makes me realize once again, what a great organization the Chicago White Sox is and what truly wonderful people are part of it.  There are hundreds of thousands of White Sox fans out there and the WS take time to reach out to so many of us.  I always think about our connection and how you reached out to us in a very difficult time and worked with us to remember our Son, someone you didnt even know.  You dont know how that makes us feel!  I apologize if Im getting to “soft” but I think about how each and every person that we have come in contact with has a heart.  Moose, Ron Kittle, You, Courtney, even the Scout that took the time to send us a letter when Tommy died.  You are part of an amazing group, and we are lucky to be part of it. 

The White Sox lost a very good part of it today and we were lucky to have met him.

Thank you.

Diane Fagan

 

Moose was a very special friend to me and I will miss seeing him at not only the White Sox camp but also the Yankee ones as well. Perhaps a little history is in order.

When he got upset at the way the Nightcrawlers were acting at the White Sox camp, he left as a coach. I ran into him at the Park later and he asked me if I wanted to go to a real camp where they played baseball the way it should be played. I said sure and asked what camp he was talking about.

He said that he and Hank Bauer had taken over the Mickey Mantle camp and it was being held in November in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I said send me an application and gave him my address and forgot about it. Three weeks later the application arrived and I didn’t know what to do. My wife Sharon was alive at the time and suggested that we should go. We had a home in Ft. Lauderdale then. She said I could play baseball and she would shop and we could stay at our home. So I signed up for the 1999 camp.

I couldn’t tell anyone in my family or any of my friends or coworkers that I was going to a Yankee camp because they were only second to the Cubs as a hated enemy. I told everyone that we were going down to the Florida house for a week vacation. It turned out that the Yankees had a procedure where they informed your local paper about your participation in their camp. I really begged that they not do that for me and they didn’t- thank God.

We went and when we arrived at the hotel, Moose greeted us at the door and told us to follow him, he wanted to introduce us to his friends. His friends turned out to be Yogi Berra, Don Larsen, Tony Kubeck, Hank Bauer, Mickey Rivers, Bobby Richardson, Jake Gibbs, Tom Tresh, Enos Slaughter, Bucky Dent, Ron Guidry and a few others I used to have no use for. We got autographed baseballs from nearly everyone and what we remembered the most is Yogi personalizing a baseball for my wife Sharon- normally Yogi doesn’t personalize autographed baseballs. Also I couldn’t believe how nice all of these star players were to me and Sharon.  Of course, not many of the knew I was a White Sox fan; I was a friend of Moose’s and that what I feel made the difference.

I wore Moose’s number 14 on my Yankee uniform and played on his team. The Yankee camp imported catchers and the campers didn’t catch at that time. One of them failed to show up and Moose asked me if I brought my equipment. I said yes but it was back at the Florida house. He said call up Sharon and tell her to bring it and I could catch. She did and I did. The Yankee coaches did the pitching so it was an unexpected treat to catch Guidry and the others. That was the start of what later became catching every inning of 9 inning games at each camp.

I was amazed at the difference between the White Sox camp and the Yankee camp. The Yankee campers, mostly from the New York area, were very competitive which fit in quite nicely with my style. I got bowled over regularly and returned the favor when the opportunity presented itself. It was a “baseball” camp with All Stars and World Series heroes.

Moose was very good to Sharon and me and we enjoyed a lot of people’s company at dinners that we only read about or saw on  the field. All of them have become super friends I look forward to meeting every year.

After that camp, I happily signed up and participated in 11 more Yankee  camps wearing his number at each one including the one last November against the Dodgers in Vero Beach, Florida. Moose asked me to sit with him at the closing banquet and it was obvious then that he wasn’t going to make it to another camp. He signed some special photos for me that I believe have more sentimental value than any other autographed stuff I have. The conversation we had when I drove him back to hotel is one I’ll never forget.

During the time from that first camp and the last one, I visited with Moose art his restaurant, enjoyed his visits to the Gatorade box at U S Cellular field and shared a lot of other great times. I remember that he apologized to me that he wasn’t able to attend my wife’s wake and funeral. I thought to myself at the time, why would he ever consider coming to them and why would he apologize? But as I thought more about  it, I suddenly realized that was the way Moose was.

It’s very probable that I will never attend another Yankee camp because although I enjoyed interacting with all the other ex Yankees, I would miss Moose too much.

Dave G

 

Hey Mike,
I played softball against your team Seals, for years in Oak Brook Terrace. I was on a handful of different team names. Most recently UJays. I will never forget the 630pm Monday night game we had to square off against you guys about six or seven years ago on a July night. I was the first of my team to show up to the field. There were four guys at the field. You, me, another one of your teammates and Moose Skowron! As I was walking toward your bench from the parking lot, where he was sitting, I said to myself, ” oh shit that’s Moose Skowron”. I was in awe! I didn’t even think of walking over to our bench on the other side. I walked right to your bench and dropped my bag as he was in the middle of a story. I just stood there to listen to the story. He finished it and you asked me if I knew who who he was, and I replied ” hell yeah, I know who this is”. He shook my hand and introduced himself. I stood there and listened to the multiple stories he had to tell about Roger, Yogi and the Mick. Being a die hard White Sox fan and baseball junkie, I knew this would be a story I now had to tell forever! Since then I have told this story to anyone I thought would listen. To see he passed away today struck me. If you were close enough with him to have him show up to a Monday night rec softball game in Oak Brook Terrace, I’m sure he was a good friend. So I just wanted to say I’m sorry for your personal loss and also the loss to the White Sox family. Baseball lost a great man!  But on the flip side I wanted to thank you for the experience I had, and appreciation I had in soaking in the stories he had to tell.

I hope all is well and look forward to the Robin era! Thanks again!
-Bubba

 

And this from veteran sportswriter and White Sox fan, Bob Vanderberg:

 
Bill “Moose” Skowron, who wore uniform No. 14 across 14 major-league seasons, whose car’s license plates read “BMS 14” and who almost became the first player in baseball history to play in three straight World Series with three different clubs, died early Friday. He was 81.

He leaves behind a book’s worth of stories, tales he enjoyed telling as much as his audiences enjoyed hearing them. One day several years ago, over lunch at a west suburban eatery, I had the privilege to be an audience of one.  He told me how, as a high school athlete at the old Weber High School on Chicago’s Northwest Side, he had played football and basketball but not baseball—because the city’s Catholic schools did not offer  the sport in those days. So he played Windy City softball midweek and sandlot baseball on Sundays. He won a scholarship to Purdue—for football, not baseball—but “the summer after my sophomore year, I went to play semipro baseball in 1950 in Austin, Minn. And a scout from the Cubs named Bill Prince saw me hit four homers off four different pitchers in a single game. And he didn’t offer me a contract.”  Nor had Doug Minor, a White Sox scout, who had quarreled with Bill’s father and also failed to offer a deal. “Thank God there were two scouts there that night from the Yankees, Joe McDermott and Burleigh Grimes. They offered me a contract and made me a bonus baby—gave me a bonus of $25,000. And I quit school and signed professionally.”

Playing in the outfield, he led the Class B Piedmont League in hitting his first year in the minors; then, promoted to Triple-A Kansas City in ’52, he batted .341 with 31 homers and 134 RBIs. “I was named Minor League Player of the Year,” he said, “and you know what? I wasn’t even invited to spring training the next year with the Yankees.”  Instead, Yankee instructors in the minor-league camp began teaching him the finer points of playing first base. That’s where he played that summer in Kansas City, where he hit .318 and finally got his invite to big-league camp in the spring of 1954. He won a roster spot and hit .340 in 87 games. Moose was on his way, embarking on a career during which, as a Yankee, he took personal delight in destroying White Sox pitching. In his nine years as a Yankee, he played 151 games against the Sox, was 161-for-527 for a .306 batting average and added 24 homers and 88 runs batted in.

Most memorable of his damaging blows against Chicago came on Sunday, July 14, 1957, before a Comiskey Park crowd of 48,244. Billy Pierce had beaten the Yanks 3-1 in Game 1 of the day’s doubleheader, moving the Sox within two games of the AL-leading New Yorkers. Now, Dick Donovan took a 4-0 lead into the ninth inning of Game 2. Then came three straight hits, making it 4-1, chasing Donovan and bringing a new pitcher, Jim Wilson, into the contest. Hank Bauer ripped a hard grounder off third baseman Sammy Esposito’s glove to fill the bases before Wilson fanned Elston Howard. Stepping up now as a pinch-hitter was Skowron, 0-for-4 in the opener. Moose sent the first pitch he saw rocketing into the left-field upper deck for a grand slam. The Yankees went on to win 6-4 and the Sox never got to within two games of the New Yorkers the rest of that season.

“I hit good against the White Sox in my career because I wanted to prove to them that their scouts had made a mistake not offering me a contract,” he said. “As it turned out, though, I could never complain, because I got into seven World Series with the Yankees. I get traded to the Dodgers, we win the pennant, we win the World Series. So I was in eight World Series out of my 14 years in the big leagues.”

Skowron came this close to being in three straight World Series with three diffeent teams. The year was 1964. “Moose” had been traded by the Dodgers to lowly Washington in December 1963. White Sox general manager Ed Short, a huge Skowron fan who had tried unsuccessfully to get him from the Dodgers that winter (and, even before that, from the Yankees), went all out to acquire the Chicago native once the ’64 season moved into early June. The Senators turned down every bid, and the June 15 trading deadline came and went with the Sox still Skowron-less. Meanwhile, the Sox were struggling in a three-team pennant race with New York and Baltimore. They were especially hapless against the Yankees, who won the teams’ first 10 face-to-face matchups in ’64.   The Yankees swept a five-game weekend series from Chicago June 12-14 in New York, then took four straight the next weekend in Chicago—by scores of 1-0 in 11 innings, 2-0, 2-1 in 17 innings and 6-5.  Certainly, Short felt, Skowron’s presence in the lineup, not to mention the clubhouse, would have meant the difference in at least one of those defeats.  Short kept the phone lines open to Washington and finally, in a waiver deal during the All-Star break, landed “Moose” in exchange for another first baseman, Joe Cunningham, and young lefty Frank Kreutzer. Skowron was hitting .271 with 13 homers and 41 RBIs when he joined the Sox. His average in a Sox uniform was .293—-with 38 RBIs. And though he hit just four homers, he provided protection for lefty-swinging Pete Ward and shortstop Ron Hansen, the team’s only other longball threats.

The difference Skowron made was especially evident in the Sox’s competition with the Yankees in the second half. Chicago swept a day-night doubleheader in New York Aug. 11, by scores of 6-4 and 8-2, as Moose went 5-for-7 with two doubles and two RBIs. The Sox lost the next two days in Yankee Stadium but came home the following week and swept four straight from the Yankees to move into first place.  In the eight games vs. his old club, Skowron had gone 11 for 29 (a .379 average).

With Skowron, the White Sox appeared poised to win the pennant as the race moved into September. Indeed, after a pulsating, un-Sox-like victory over Cleveland Sept. 4 at Comiskey Park, even the doubters and naysayers had to rethink their position. With the Sox trailing 5-4 in the 10th and Tribe relief ace Don McMahon (1.52 ERA) on the mound,

Ward led off with a long drive over the center-field fence and into the old bullpen to tie the game. Moments later, Skowron lined a ball to the opposite field, a shot that landed in the right-field lower deck and won the game 6-5.

But shortly thereafter, the White Sox dropped a Labor Day twin bill in Washington, and the Yankees began a surge of 26 wins in 33 games that put them back on top. The Sox won their last nine in a row but finished 98-64, one game behind; third-place Baltimore finished 97-65. The failure of 1964 was among Moose’s biggest disappointments. So was 1965, when he hit .274 with 18 homers and 78 RBIs and made the All-Star team but saw his White Sox finish second to Minnesota. And so was 1966, when he batted just .249 in much limited play under new manager Eddie Stanky.

“But being home in Chicago, coming back here to play—it was a big thrill for me. And I’ll never forget that year we lost the pennant by one game.”

And those thousands of fans who watched him play ball or got to know him in later years  through his community-relations work with the White Sox surely will never forget Bill “Moose” Skowron.

 

 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Moose

I lost a friend today.  But that is a selfish way to think about it, really, because a lot of people here with the White Sox – and a lot of fans in New York and Chicago – lost a friend today.  And baseball, well, baseball certainly lost a character.  There was only one Bill “Moose” Skowron.

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For the past year or so, Moose had waged a tough, tough battle with cancer.  But Moose was a tough, tough guy, and recently, medical tests seemed to indicate that he was winning.  But the battle had been really hard on Moose and his body, and last night, he succumbed to congestive heart failure at the age of 81.  There will be one less Yankee great standing on the first base line at next summer’s Old Timer’s Game (Moose used to joke about how he had moved closer to first base over the years.  I think he was second or third last year).

Visitation for Moose will be Monday, April 30 from 2 to 9 p.m. at Colonial-Wojciechowski Funeral Home at 8025 W. Golf Road, Niles.  His funeral will be Tuesday, May 1, at Queen of All Saints Basillica, 6280 N. Sauganash Ave., Chicago at 10 a.m.  In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made in Moose’s name to the American Heart Association.

If you want to read our press release, you can click here.

For those readers who have attended past Blog Nights here at the ballpark, you know that I frequently asked Moose to attend.  I just loved his stories, and his delivery, well, you couldn’t beat his frankness!

Moose wasn’t exactly “PC.”  I guess that happens sometimes.  That means I can’t really tell you all of the best stories about Moose.  But I can come close.

He loved Mickey Mantle, and was loyal to him to the very end.  Any time Moose told a Mickey story, his eyes would twinkle.  And though I never met Mantle, I got a sense of their relationship through his friend.  And I know this about Mantle, he took care of his friends.

One of the running jokes between Moose and Ed Farmer was about Farmer’s constant and unending pursuit of a signed Mickey Mantle ball.  Farmer would ask, and Moose would at first deny he had any, and then only under pressure would he agree to sell one to Farmer at an exorbitant price.

Farmer would counter that Moose must have a printing press in his basement churning out Mickey Mantle “signed” baseballs.  But what really happened, we surmised, was that years ago Mantle knew how valuable his signature was on a baseball and left his Yankee friends with enough signed balls to take care of them in old age.  That is a friend and that is a teammate.

Moose was the most fun on the golf course, although he grew to hate the game in recent years when his physical strength diminished.

We had a set foursome at the annual White Sox outing – me, Moose, Don Brown and Bob Grim.  I’d laugh for five hours.

It was so much fun to get Moose going.  It didn’t matter the game, he was a competitor and wanted to win.  He trash talked.  He tried to put pressure on your putts.  He kept you laughing.

But then he gave up the game.  When pressed as to why he didn’t play any more, his response was a common one your heard with with Moose about many subjects … “You can take that game, and stick it up your #$%&!”

Man, will we miss that guy …

Tributes

Moose is receiving a moment of silence before three baseball games today … Purdue University’s doubleheader, the Yankees game in the Bronx against the Tigers and our game against the Red Sox.  It seems only appropriate.

A black diamond with the word “Moose” is on the padding next to the White Sox on-deck circle and our team will begin wearing black diamond patches with B-M-S on their sleeves as soon as they arrive.

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I’m sure many fans have their favorite Moose stories from the years – I haven’t even mentioned his having to take dancing lessons to improve his footwork at first base – I’d love to read them as comments posted here.

 

 

Paulie, Paulie

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Paulie, Paulie

Congratulations to Paul Konerko on reaching the 400-home run milestone yesterday in dramatic fashion.

For those of you who didn’t see it, here’s a fun look at Konerko’s Road to 400, from No. 1 through yesterday:

http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=20918967&topic_id=9105476&c_id=cws

Other PK Notes

  • Paulie became the fourth player to collect his 400th home run in a White Sox uniform (joining Frank Thomas, 7/25/03; Jim Thome, 9/16/07; Andruw Jones, 7/11/10).
  •  With the home run, Konerko moved ahead of Andres Galarraga and Al Kaline into 48th place all-time.
  •  393 of PK’s 400 home runs have come with the White Sox.

Amazingly, all of Paulie’s “milestone” home runs have come on the road!

 

Humber Follow Up

 

Monday, April 23, 2012

So the once in a lifetime feat just happened a second time for a White Sox pitcher as Philip Humber threw the 21st Perfect Game in MLB history on Saturday.

 

Humber heard from Mayor Emanuel immediately following the game, and today, he received a congratulatory call from President Obama.  Commissioner Selig also sent along a congratulatory letter.  He was named American League Player of the Week today as well.  Tonight, Humber appears is part of the Top 10 list on The David Letterman Show.

 

If you didn’t catch all of the postgame reaction Saturday, here are Philip and manager Robin Ventura’s comments after the Perfecto.  Even two days later you can sense the joy, excitement and wonderment in Philip’s comments:

On the game:

“I wish I could tell you (what happened out there). It was something that was out of my control. I know God had a hand in it, and I’m thankful. The team played awesome. The first thing you want to do is get a win, and it was nice to have that last run there and have a four-run lead going into the ninth. A.J. (Pierzynski) did a great job. There were a couple great plays in the outfield. It was just awesome. I don’t know what Philip Humber is doing in this list, what my name is doing there, but I’m thankful it’s there.”

On what was going through his mind on the last pitch:

 “’Go get it. Throw him out.’ – That was it. I saw it get away from A.J. and I saw the umpire ring him up and that point, just a ton of emotions, a lot of joy, excitement and most of all gratitude. I’m just thankful for where I’m at. I’m thankful. That was awesome…what just took place was just awesome.”

On his nerves going into the ninth inning:

 

“Probably more than any of the other innings (my nerves were going). Once you get past the fifth you know what’s going on, but at that point there’s a slim chance that’s going to happen. But going into the ninth, you stand there on the mound and realize ‘I’m standing here on the mound in the ninth inning with the chance to throw a perfect game.’ – I can’t lie; I know I was thinking that. I overthrew a couple of pitches to start the leadoff hitter but I’m just thankful I was able to get back in the count there.  A ton of credit goes to A.J. because he knew just what to call today; he kept them off balance all day. Honestly, I didn’t feel like I had great stuff up until maybe the sixth or seventh inning when I felt like the ball was starting to come out of my hand a little better. A.J. and I have worked well together since I’ve been here and a lot of credit goes to him.”

On rating his “stuff”:

 “I don’t really rate it on swings and misses and stuff like that. I more rate it on how I feel like I’m getting out there, the ball coming out of my hand with some life on it. Like I said, I felt like I was maybe rushing a little bit at the beginning, but I was able to slow myself down a little bit and had a lot  more life on the ball at the end of the game.”

On the journey over this past year and a half to where he is now:

“It’s not me, it’s really not. I’ve said it a lot, but it’s God, it’s just timing. I’ve worked as hard as I’m working now my whole career, but before it used to be about me and now it’s not. I’m just thankful for where I’m at – put it that way.”

On what he was thinking on the last pitch:

“Well, that it’s way outside for one thing. Hopefully that it doesn’t go to the backstop. Really, it’s hard to say, I was just trying to make a good pitch. I felt like I jerked it a little bit, but in a situation like that guys are anxious. I’ve been in the dugout when a team’s getting no-hit and the batters tend to get a little more anxious when they get deeper the game like that and so you get some swings at some pitches you might not normally get swings at. “

On if he threw a slider:

“Yes, that was a slider.”

On if he’s ever thrown a perfect game before in his life:

“I have no idea, but maybe back in youth baseball or something like that, but nothing even close to something like this.”

 

On the effects of short rest between some innings:

“It was nice because it doesn’t give you a whole lot of time to think. After my last start, and Robin (Ventura) can tell you, that was a rollercoaster start to watch. I was in and out of the strike zone and walking guys. Today what I wanted to concentrate on was throwing first-pitch strikes, getting the first guy out every inning and just keeping it simple. Those innings there, they seemed to be a little more aggressive in the count, mis-hit some balls and it made for some easy outs.”

On his thoughts during the 3-0 count to the last batter:

 “Throw a strike. Get it over the plate somehow. That would be the last way that I would want to lose it. You want to go out with your best stuff over the plate and challenge guys. I definitely wanted to get back in the zone there. A.J. stayed with me the whole game and he makes you feel very comfortable as a pitcher, and I’m thankful to have a catcher like that.”

On his demeanor in the dugout:

 

“Yeah, I don’t believe in superstitions or anything like that so when guys were getting hits or scoring runs I was shaking their hands. When they’d make plays in the field I was telling them ‘Great job’. I don’t like to be isolated like that. I like to stay in the game, be relaxed and be a teammate regardless of if I’m pitching or not, it makes it more fun that way.”

Robin Ventura:

On when the subject of a perfect game came up between the coaches:

“I don’t think it was really that way, I think it was just the way he was pitching. You look at the game and instead of it being about a perfect game you’re talking about him winning it or if he’s going to finish it, whether he’s going to give up a hit or a walk or whatever. You’re kind of going through the scenarios of looking at their lineup. Once we got the fourth run it was pretty much his and he was pitching well enough unless the moment happens that he gets into trouble, but he was kind of cruising. He was going through, making pitches all day long and he had a couple innings there where he had quick pop-ups, one-pitch pop-ups. You look up and he’s thrown 68 pitches so there goes that, using a pitch count. So no, there wasn’t really any (conversation about the perfect game). I still haven’t talked to him – I just have that superstition – so I was staying away from him.”

Philip on if he felt they couldn’t get solid contact on the ball:

 “I thought Seager hit a ball, an 0-2 pitch where I threw a good curveball down and away, and he put a good swing on it but Lilli(bridge) ran it down. They got a lot of left-handed hitters and I think that’s my reputation around the league is to stack your lineup with lefties. I was just trying to concentrate more on when I threw a slider down and in, to throw it down and in. But like that one (with Seager) I left up a little bit and he put a good swing on it. There were a couple different ones – the ball that was hit to Rios, I can’t remember who hit that ball, but they squared it up to right field and he made a nice catch on that. For the most part, I was not thinking about any of that. I was just happy that they were making plays and keeping us in the lead more than thinking about a great play that saved my no-hitter or perfect game or something like that.”

On the amount of foul balls hit and if that was an indication of anything specific:

 “We threw a lot of breaking balls, a lot of sliders, so when you throw those and they’re not down out of the zone you’ll get swings and misses. If they’re in the zone, normally a breaking ball is going to be a fly ball, some type of pop-up or something like that, whereas a changeup or a fastball has more of a chance of being on the ground. They just happen to be hitting those balls in play.”

On what it was like to have the visiting fans cheering for him:

“Honestly, I didn’t hear them. I didn’t hear them until after the game when all of them got up and gave me an ovation. I didn’t really hear them. You could hear the noise but I wasn’t sure if they were cheering for me or for the guy, whomever I was assuming they were cheering for on their team.”

On his shift and change in mindset as a player:

“I worked hard at my craft and I wanted that work to pay off so that I would be validated. My identity was a baseball player. My whole evaluation of myself was my stat line so if my stat line was great I felt good about myself and if it wasn’t then I didn’t feel so good. It took me a long time to figure it out that it’s not about me or us. Whatever we’re doing we should be doing it to glorify God and that’s a whole lot better way to live because you know that when he’s in control then you can just be thankful for what’s happening. I’m not saying that I’m always going to be successful because of the attitude I have on the field and I’m not always going to have good games, but I will be a joyful person because of where my heart is.”

On if there was a temptation to throw Brendan Ryan another fastball on 2-2:

“The way that at-bat went we did throw him a fastball there and he fouled it off, but my slider was good today and I felt like I could command it. Obviously, I didn’t throw a great one right there, but just knowing the situation and knowing that they’re going to be a little bit more anxious in that situation I think a breaking ball is probably a better pitch right there.”

Robin: On if he wants another rainout when Humber’s scheduled to start next time:

“That was (Pitching Coach Don) Cooper’s fault. He showed us. He’s about right where he should be pitch-count wise.”

Humber on if there was any doubt that Pierzynski saw the ball after it got by him:

 “I knew he saw it and I saw that the batter obviously didn’t think he swung so he was standing there talking to the umpire, so I knew that as long as A.J. didn’t trip over himself or something bad like that, that he just had to play catch with Paulie (Konerko). The rest of it was kind of a blur. I felt (Jake) Peavy on my back and I was like, ‘Let me up’ because I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I skinned my forehead on the ground there when everyone knocked me down. It was just so happy hearing all your teammates excited. That was probably the best part of it just seeing all my teammates so excited.”

On whom his first call was to after the game:

“I’ve already called my wife and my mom’s there with her. I just wanted to make sure she didn’t give birth while I was pitching. I called my dad. I’ve got last I looked 50 texts messages and there’s no telling how many missed calls so I’ll spend the next couple of days getting back to people. There are a lot of friends and a lot of family and a lot of people that I need to thank and share this moment with because there’s been a lot of people that have helped me along the way.”

On if he tweeted about the game yet:

 “I have not tweeted yet. I don’t tweet very often. I think my followers are about pretty disappointed with that. Maybe I’ll tweet something later.”

On where this moment ranks in his life:

 “I don’t know. It’s about sixth, seventh somewhere in there? I’d say as far as baseball goes it’s at the top. Hopefully there’s more to come. I think something that would be even better would be World Series Championship. The individual thing is nice and the team is a part of it, but at the same time when you can do something like that as a team it’ll be even better.”

On his wife’s due date and where she is at:

 “May 8 but he’s ready to go though. She’s in Chicago right now.”

On if he can wrap his head around this:

 “I saw it. I glanced at the TV in the clubhouse and like I said earlier I don’t know what my name is doing on that list, it’s just so humbling. I’m just so thankful and it’s an awesome feeling. People are telling you, ‘I got to get this for the Hall of Fame’ and send stuff to the Hall of Fame – I’ve been there and seen the stuff that’s there. To think that something of mine is going to be there is pretty awesome and I don’t know what to say about it.”

On if he knows the ratio of fastballs to sliders:

 “No idea. Usually I throw more off-speed than fastballs. Our go-to pitch today was definitely a slider and we got a lot of outs on that. Yeah, I don’t know the ratio I’ll have to look at that.”

On if he has a message for the troops:

 “Thankful for what they do. This is small compared to anything that goes on in their lives. I’m just thankful that there are people out there protecting our freedom and giving us an opportunity to go out there and entertain people and not have to worry about our safety. I’m just thankful for that.”

Missed Opportunity

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I missed a chance yesterday.  Harold Baines could have been beaten.  Baines, Mark Salas, Joe McEwing and I snuck out yesterday morning to battle the wind and Harborside International Golf Course in a competitive round of golf.  And Baines, you see, is the best.  He’s the one we shoot for.

“This isn’t personal,” I said to McEwing, Harold’s partner for the round.  “This isn’t about you.  It’s about him,” I joked, pointing to the quiet one.

Several times each spring and season, we’ve paired up in two-man golf competitions and once, only once, have we gotten Harold.  The date was September 27, 2009 at Bolingbrook Golf Course.  The key was that this win came in the final round of the year, meaning we did hold bragging rights all winter long.

But yesterday, Baines faltered and opened the door for me and Salas.  And we choked.  Blew it.  Couldn’t make a putt to save our lives.  And therefore Baines and McEwing enjoyed lunch on us yet again.

“I need a short game lesson,” I moaned after missing yet another.

“Evidently,” the winner responded with a smile.

In Case You Missed It

Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland had some complimentary things to say about the White Sox (and some not so complimentary things to say about baseball prognosticators) over the weekend.  Here’s what he said to media:

“Since 2006 when I got here (Detroit), this has been one of the best teams in the league every year.  And they will be right there,” Leyland told Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune.  “They picked us fourth last year and we won 95 games.  So don’t pay attention to those people.  They pick and they talk, but they don’t know what they are talking about.

 

“Look at their pitching staff.  Look at the arms they throw out there.  Look at some of the arms they bring out of the bullpen.  You know, Paul Konerko is one of the best hitters in baseball.  You know Adam Dunn is going to do a lot better than he did last year.  I mean, this is a good team.  Ramirez is one of the best shortstops in the league.  This is a real good team.  Pierzynski is one of the best catchers, gets a lot of big hits.  I don’t know why anybody would not pick these guys as a solid, solid contender.

“I mean, we have a good team,” Leyland concluded.  “Don’t get me wrong.  So do they.  They’re proving that.  The people who make those picks … I don’t pay attention to that.”

Anti-Bullying Message

Robin Ventura, Alexei Ramirez, John Danks and Gordon Beckham teamed up to record an anti-bullying message for youth.  See it here.

Highlight Film

 Alexei Ramirez provided his own highlight film last night.  Catch all two of these amazing plays.

And then this …

Other Notes

  • White Sox starting pitchers own a 2.43 ERA at home this season
  • AJ has recorded an RBI in a career-high seven straight games, the longest streak by a Sox player since PK in eight straight
  • Gavin Floyd owns a 1.97 ERA in his last five starts at home
  • AJ leads the AL with an .829 slugging percentage, is tied for the lead with 13 RBI, ranks second hitting .400 and is tied for third with four home runs
  • Can you name the last White Sox player to lead the AL in RBI?
  • The Sox have thrown out four of five basestealers
  • Jake Peavy owns a 21:2 strikeout to walk ratio

Red Stripes

Monday, April 16, 2012

So what did everyone think of the new/old red pinstriped White Sox uniforms?  I’d love to hear your feedback.  Here’s a great interview with Carlos May about his memories of Dick Allen, Chuck Tanner, Wilbur Wood and that 1972 team.

 

Small Things

Catcher Tyler Flowers received kudos for his home run in Saturday’s victory, but a smaller thing caught the eye of former major league manager Buddy Bell.

With the Sox up 3-1 in the seventh, Flowers was hit by a pitch.  Gordon Beckham struck out and with the Tigers not paying much attention to Flowers, he stole second base.  (Why not?)  Now with lefty De Aza up and Flowers on second, first baseman Prince Fielder now moved off the line and back to the normal position occupied by a first baseman.  What happened next?  Of course, De Aza shot a ball down the line for a triple, scoring Flowers with the team’s fourth run.

Buddy was elated at the importance of the stolen base.  (And Buddy Bell and the word elated aren’t used that often in a single sentence).

Interruption

You won’t realize it by reading this, but as I was typing the entry above, manager Robin Ventura stopped by my office to recruit my assistance in a practical joke (I, of course, never stoop to such levels).  Any ways, I told him he must be bored to come see me …

Cool Stat

With two doubles Sunday, Adam Dunn tied his USCF output for doubles for all of 2011.  In fact, he has three at home so far in 2012.

Not Your White Sox

We have allowed just one stolen base so far in 2012 while recording three caught stealings … yes, three!

Nice Column

Check this out from FOX Sports Ken Rosenthal on the White Sox.

Home Opener

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Pregame BP

Guys are fired up to wear the red pinstripes tomorrow for the first time, honoring the 1972 team.  Brent Lillibridge, John Danks and Matt Thornton snuck on their red shoes during BP today just to get the feel.  Of course, with tomorrow being Jackie Robinson Day, the entire roster will wear uniform No. 42 in his honor, all in red.

Yesterday

Tough to ask for much for out of yesterday … a White Sox win, a very nice day, a standout start by Jake Peavy, two great defensive plays and offense from Dayan Viciedo.  To be completely selfish, all we needed were a couple of hits from Adam Dunn and Gordon Beckham.

Best line of the day yesterday belonged to manager Robin Ventura, who replaced Viciedo (who had a sterling play in left field) with Lillibridge as a late-inning defensive replacement: “I told Lilly,” Ventura remarked after the game, “’You had better be really good.’”

How about Jake Peavy’s first two starts of the season against offenses like the Rangers and Tigers.  Impressive.

Poor Roger

First time for everything as yesterday marked the first time I ever remember a game being stopped to re-draw the batter’s box.  I’ve seen an umpire erase the back line and re-draw it with the end of the bat, but I’ve never seen the grounds crew called out to re-do the box.  It led to a delay in the first inning.

“We had a rhythm going,” one member of the Sox laughed today.  “I was just like, ‘Let Cabrera hit from wherever he wants and fix it between innings.’”

Makeup in Cleveland

The Indians have announced that Tuesday’s rainout will be made up on our next trip in to Cleveland as a split doubleheader on May 7.  The first game is at 12:05 p.m. CT with the second at 6:05 p.m. (for those of you contemplating a Monday baseball trip to Cleveland).

Thursday Night

At Thursday night’s Bulls game, one notable moment came when the dessert cart arrived at the suite.  A few of the guys checked it out.  A few let it be.

“Let him go first, he needs to fatten up,” Chris Sale’s dad joked as Sale headed out into the hallway only to come back with a big piece of cake.  Then, when he learned there was ice cream to be had, he went back for a second trip.

But Viciedo drew the best reaction from his teammates.  He passed on dessert, drawing laughs.  When the topic came up, Viciedo just smiled, shook his head and signaled, “No.”

Mr. Mayor

Mayor Emanuel attended yesterday’s home opener and afterward, we saw him dining at 11th Street Diner.

“I need to talk to him,” my high schooler said.  “I’m not happy with him.  He’s trying to make my school day longer.”

Sometimes it’s tough being mayor.

COMMON

You really can’t make stuff like this up and it’s one of the many reasons I love my job.

Prior to throwing out the first pitch yesterday, Chicago-native rapper, author and actor COMMON wanted to warm up.

So one of my staff ran into my office and grabbed the first glove they saw.  COMMON and the staffer played catch, and COMMON proceeded to go outside and bounce his ceremonial first pitch.  So much for practice.

But my staffer told me afterward that “I borrowed that glove in your office.”

Glove in my office?  I don’t have a glove in my office … oh yeah, wait a minute.  I do.  It’s an authentic, signed Luis Aparicio glove.  “You used my Hall of Famer’s glove to play catch with COMMON!”

I said to COMMON … “You used my Aparicio glove to play catch and then you threw that pitch!?!?”

He smiled, but I think he felt a little embarrassed.  He should. (The glove is fine, by the way.  No worse for wear).

This glove really belongs under glass somewhere.  Here’s the story …

A few years ago, I had the idea of having Wilson create Aparicio and Fox gloves that Sox fans might want to buy for their homes/offices.  Proceeds could benefit Chicago White Sox Charities.  We never really followed through on the plan, but as part of the project, the great guys at Wilson checked to see if they still had the pattern for Louie’s glove.

Amazing enough, their old glove maker, then 80-something years old, still happened to have the pattern out in his garage.  The folks at Wilson made one to show us.  And then one day, Aparicio was in the clubhouse, so I had him sign his actual glove.

It has sat in my office for years, on display … until yesterday.

Robin’s pre-game session with the media

 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Image

 

On how it feels to be back home:

“It’s good. It’s nice. You feel like you’ve been on the road for so long so it’s nice to get back here and get it going.”

On the home opener

“It’s exciting. I feel like I grew up here so in a lot of ways it’s a coming home of sorts. I think for guys that haven’t played here, it’s exciting for them, and I get to enjoy being a part of that too. You see a kid like Nate Jones or Hector Santiago, guys that it’s their first time for an Opening Day here so that’s the special part that you get to enjoy.”

On if he feels like he’s learning new things about the job day-by-day:

“I think you do. You’re always trying to learn and see different things. It’s still baseball, but you’re looking at (things) differently than you do as a player. Hopefully I keep my eyes open enough to learn every day.”

On starting off the season playing good baseball:

“You play against some good teams, that when you play well, it gives you some confidence. That’s kind of what we did in Texas: you play against a team that’s the best team in the league and you hold your own. It’s one of those that you feel confident and you kind of go from there. It’s still a long way to go and again you’re just trying to continue to keep that pressure as far as bringing the same attitude every day.”

On playing Detroit

“Yeah, they’re a good team, but again you just continue to play. You can’t sit there and worry about it, you just sit and play. You throw your guys out there and play. They’re on the schedule so we’re going to have to play them and we’re not going to back down from anybody.”

On the style he’s hoping for the team to play this season:

“I think a little bit we’ve already kind of showed. You want them to continue to score and put pressure on the other team. You don’t want it to be a comfortable experience for the other team. I think that’s one of the things – it’s maybe a grittier at-bat, things like that – we have good players, but you still need that side element of tough at-bats over and over and over again to make it a successful, team-oriented offense.”

On how important the success of Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski is to the team’s success:

“It’s huge. You get guys like that and you look at what they bring. They’re professional in what they do, they’re good players and that’s the stuff that’s important when you look at it as a manager. They take a lot of the extra stuff that I would have to do, and I don’t have to do it, because they’ve already handled it and just the way they go about their business guys will follow them. It always helps when they’re playing well.”

On if he was excited to be in his office for the first time today as White Sox manager:

“We’re just trying to get ready for a game. I try not to look at it through myself; it’s more about us being home as a team and being here and playing. I don’t worry too much about myself as much as I worry about getting everybody ready to play.”

On how Mark Parent has helped him make it through the beginning part of the season:

“When you’re putting together a staff, you’re putting together people you can trust, a guy like Mark, that you can believe in that can do the right things. Mark, along with Joe (McEwing) and Jeff (Manto) are kind of the new guys, but you trust their ability to do the right things, to be prepared and things like that. That was more of how he’s helping me – they’re all important in what they do, but I also trust what they do, that I don’t have to sit there and look over them as well as looking over the players. They’ve taken it upon themselves to do their jobs and they do it well.”

On if he is the type of manager that has two lineups ready at all times:

“No, I just made one today. You’re going to have to come up with it; I’m not going to make two. If something happens and you have to adjust then you just adjust. You’re only picking from 25 guys. It’s different than spring training because you’re not trying to get guys at-bats, you’re trying to win games.”

Image

On if he manages against the Tigers, against Jim Leyland or just manage his team:

“I guess there’s a little bit of everything in there. You’re trying to maybe sense what he’s going to do in certain situations, but the most important thing for me is that our guys are prepared for whatever they’re asked to do and that’s the part that I’m concerned about. Everything else that they do – it’s not like you’re playing a golf course, you’re playing another team – so you do prepare to play them and plan on going against them, but you’re trying to get your guys ready and get them in a situation that they feel comfortable in and give them the ability to be successful.”

On his learning curve:

“The hardest part is sending guys down – you’re in spring training and you have guys close to making the cut. The best part is letting the news out that a kid like Nate Jones has made the team, that’s the fun part. Other stuff that’s hard, we got a guy on our staff that’s in the hospital, that’s hard – that’s the kind of stuff that’s harder than just normal baseball stuff.”

On the key to stepping out from the shadow of a previous regime and creating his own identity:

“We’re just worried about baseball. We’re not worried about creating anything with me. I want us to be a good baseball team first and I respect what they did – they got a World Series ring so they did a lot of great things, but I’m not here to create my own identity. I want us to be a good baseball team and that’s my concern for this season.”

On Morel’s first road trip:

“I don’t know if it’s jitters, but you get excited the first week, you maybe want to do a little more than you should. He’ll be fine, he’s a good player and I know he’s going to be fine.”

On if he identifies with Morel’s situation:

“It’s probably different. He’s better than I was early on. He’ll be fine.”

On if he remembers his last game he played as a member of the Sox:

“No, I don’t. Do you want to refresh me? I know what year it was, that’s all.”

Counting Down …

 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ballpark was buzzing today with final preparations and touches prior to tomorrow’s Home Opener against the Tigers at 1:10 p.m.  Manager Robin Ventura chose to not hold a workout today, opting instead to allow players and staff to settle in before coming out to the park tomorrow morning.  Pitcher Chris Sale and pitching coach Don Cooper did come in this morning to hold Sale’s side day of throwing, and a few other players stopped in over the course of the day just to set up their lockers.  Of course, the ever-present head trainer Herm Schneider was present as well.

Ventura stopped by to organize his newly painted office, and yes, if you happened to be driving east on 35th Street around 1 p.m., that probably was the new White Sox manager you saw walking with his family up the street.  Rumors were he was looking for a hot dog stand for lunch!

 

Go Bulls, Go Hawks

Many Sox players and staff are headed to the United Center for tonight’s Chicago Bulls showdown with the Miami Heat.  I am sure the Blackhawks playoff game also will be on in the suites, as most of the Sox players root for both squads.

Opening Day

For whatever reason, I haven’t been getting too many comments to these blog entries this spring – but thanks to the thousands of fans who are reading on a daily basis.  So here’s a try … tell me your best White Sox Opening Day tradition!  Some of the best entries will receive something from me … let me look around in my office and come up with a prize or two.

Miller Lite Bullpen Bar

To answer one reader, yes, the Miller Lite Bullpen Sports Bar opens two and one half hours before gametime from Thursday-Sunday, meaning it does open before the ballpark on some days.

Early Start (or sometimes it is good to be the boss)

The first of our staff arrive at the ballpark tomorrow morning at 2:45 am (so you wanted to work in sports?) to help local television crews enter USCF and set up for morning live shots.  WGN-TV is scheduled to telecast from Bacardi at the Park from 6-9 am, while WBBM (4:30-7 am), WMAQ (5-7), WLS (5-7) and WFLD (7-10 am) all will be out at the park.  Make sure to listen as well to WSCR 670 AM as Mully and Hanley will be broadcasting from Morgan’s near UIC and then The Dan McNeil show will be live from the ballpark beginning at 9 a.m.

Leave Em Laughing

Two recent great commercials on the internet/TV.  This one shows a friendly competition between teammates Gordon Beckham and A.J. Pierzynski.

And this one from our friends at New Era Cap.

 

Robin Ventura on Friday’s Home Opener

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Are you looking forward to the Home Opener?

Yeah, we’ve been at Spring Training and gone it seems like for a long time, so it’s nice to get home and play at home. Openers are always fun, so we’re looking forward to it.

Will you bring your family to the game?

Hopefully, my wife will be there. That would be good.

Do you recall your first Major League Opener?

It was very cold, I know that. It was at the old Comiskey. It’s always fun, I think anytime you start the year things are optimistic, and people enjoy that. It sounds corny, but there’s a little bit of ‘Americana’ when you come out to the Opener at home; everybody comes out, and all the money and everything. It’s fun and I’m looking forward to it. 

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