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1983  Winning Ugly
by WSI editor George Bova

Shedding Chicago's Losing Image
Chicago was never more known as "The Second City" than back in the early 1980's.  In spite of having five major professional sports teams, Chicago's sports fans had not experienced a championship of any kind since 1963.  The Chicago Sting won something called the "Soccer Bowl" in 1981 but nobody paid much attention.  Chicago was a city of losers and twenty years of failure had out of towners laughing and local fans angry.  Remember, too, that starting in 1969 the Chicago Cubs were the dominant baseball club in the city.  The "lovable losers" image was projected across all of Chicago's teams.  Chicago's fans became something of a laughingstock across America.  While Cubs fans giggled about their team's incompetence, the rest of us gritted our teeth. Losing ain't cute -- it just took moronic Cubs fans longer to figure it out.

Into this dark period of Chicago sports history appeared a team that completely turned around the city's championship fortunes:  the 1983 Winnin' Ugly Chicago White Sox.  They were the city's first championship team in twenty years.  In the subsequent sixteen years, Chicago's teams brought home three more baseball division titles, one Super Bowl victory, and six N.B.A. championships, the basketball crowns courtesy a light-hitting White Sox AA prospect from North Carolina.  It was an amazing reversal of fortune for Chicago's fans -- and it was the '83 Sox that led the way.

The 1983 Season

Julio Cruz crosses homeplate with the A.L. West championship, the first for the city in twenty years!

The "Winnin' Ugly" Sox truly were ugly for the first half of the season.  The 87 wins of 1982 had expectations high for continued improvement but none of it was evident through May.  On June 13 the Sox were five games under .500 and stuck in fifth place.  Then Sox GM Roland Hemond made the trade that everyone would later credit with turning the season around.  Looking to give his team a spark, Hemond traded Tony Bernazard to Seattle for his second base counterpart, Julio Cruz.  The effect was immediate.  By the all-star break the Sox had climbed to three games over .500.  Then things really got hot.  The Sox climbed into first place on July 18 and never looked back.  Their second half record was 59-26, a .694 winning percentage.  Floyd Bannister was nearly unbeatable, winning 13 and losing 1.  LaMarr Hoyt and Rich Dotson compiled the greatest number of wins in the entire league, 24 and 22 respectively.

Not everyone was impressed.  One out of town writer dismissed the team as no better than fifth in the A.L. East.  Texas manager Doug Rader theorized that the Sox's bubble had to burst.  "They're not playing that well.  They're winning ugly."  Thanks, Doug.  We Sox fans needed a rallying cry.

On September 17 at Comiskey Park, the Chicago White Sox clinched Chicago's first championship in twenty years.  Harold Baines sacrificed home Julio Cruz with the winning run over Seattle.  The Sox cruised into October with a twenty game bulge over second place Kansas City, a major league record.  The opposition in the ALCS would be Baltimore, the only team to take the season series against the Sox, seven games to five.

The 1983 American League Championship Series
Game 1 at Baltimore.  All you need to know about this one is LaMarr Hoyt went the full nine innings and outdueled Scott McGregor 2-1.  Tom Paciorek went 2 for 4 with 1 rbi.  You also need to know Hoyt never pitched again in the series.
Game 2 at Baltimore.  Baltimore's Mike Boddicker matched Hoyt's performance from game 1 going nine innings, shutting out the Sox and holding them to 4 measly hits.  O's platoon outfielder Gary Roenicke took Floyd Bannister deep in the sixth.  Julio Cruz struck out three times.  Having split the two games on the road, Sox fans were confident their team could win the necessary two games at Comiskey.
Game 3 at Comiskey Park.  It was a rout.  Rich Dotson gave up six earned runs in five innings work. The final 11-1 score was most noteworthy for starting a beanball war.  Ron Kittle and Cal Ripken were each hit once and Eddie Murray nearly so, emptying the benches.
Game 4 at Comiskey Park.  The game that broke every Sox fan's heart for years to come.  Britt Burns went out and pitched nine innings of scoreless baseball for our Chicago White Sox.  LaMarr Hoyt was waiting in the dugout to take his turn on the mound the following day to nail down what should have been the series clincher.  It never happened.  Not a single Sox runner scored against Storm Davis and Tippy Martinez.  It was a scoreless tie after nine innings.  Jerry Dybzinski killed the Sox's best scoring chance in the sixth inning.  "The Dibber" rounded second base with his head down and steamed towards Vance Law who had been held up at third by coach Jim Leyland -- a force out that killed the Chicago rally.

Tony LaRussa sent out Burns to pitch an incredible tenth straight inning.  Tito Landrum deposited one of Burns' tiring pitches in the seats and everything after that is a blur.  3-0 Baltimore in ten innings to take the A.L. pennant, 3 games to 1.

The Aftermath

"Let's Do It Again" was the theme for 1984.  What the Sox did do was fall back to fifth place, fourteen games beneath .500.  Roland Hemond brought in Ron Reed and practically stole Tom Seaver from the Mets.  Their contributions weren't enough to offset the poor showings by Hoyt (13-18) and Dotson (14-15).  The '85 club bounced back to win 85 games and actually led the division in June.  By 1986 the club was in disarray with a new general manager (Ken Harrelson) and manager (Jim Fregosi).  It would be four more seasons before the Chicago White Sox finished on the north side of .500.  Living off the fat of his giant free agent contract, Julio Cruz was still getting paid for most of them.

1983 Chicago White Sox
American League West Division Champions
99-63, .611,+20 games

Manager:  Tony LaRussa

                   Everyday Line Up

Position   AB BA HR RBI
1B Mike Squires
Also Tom Paciorek 
and Greg Walker.
153 .222 1 11
2B Julio Cruz
Also Tony Bernazard.
334 .251 1 40
3B Vance Law 256 .243 4 42
SS Jerry Dybzinski
Also Scott Fletcher.
408 .230 1 32
LF Ron Kittle
Also Jerry Hairston.
520 .254 35 100
CF Rudy Law 501 .283 3 34
RF Harold Baines 596 .280 20 99
C Carlton Fisk 488 .289 26 86
DH Greg Luzinski 502 .255 32 95

                        Pitching Staff

LaMarr Hoyt 36 261 24* 10 0 3.66
Rich Dotson 35 240 22 7 0 3.23
Floyd Bannister 34 217 16 10 0 3.35
Britt Burns 29 174 10 11 0 3.58
Jerry Koosman 37 170 11 7 2 4.77
Dennis Lamp 49 116 7 7 15 3.71
Dick Tidrow 50 92 2 4 7 4.22
Salome Barojas 52 87 3 3 12 2.47
Juan Agosto 39 42 2 2 7 4.10

BOLD led the team
* led the league

Individual Honors
Cy Young Award        Lamarr Hoyt
Rookie of the Year        Ron Kittle
Manager of the Year    Tony LaRussa

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