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Sox All-Century
Second Team
 

by Hal Vickery

Well, the baseball season is finally upon us, but I'm back at work after spring break and haven't had much time to follow what is going on. I won't be able to provide much insight into the new season until I get a few games under my belt.  I'll get back to you in a week or two. 

To fill in with a tap dance until then, I'm now going to present the second team in the Sox All-Century Squad. You may recall from last week's episode that the first string consisted of the following:

C Carlton Fisk
1B Frank Thomas
2B Eddie Collins
SS Luke Appling
3B Robin Ventura
LF Joe Jackson
CF Jim Landis
RF Harry Hooper
DH Harold Baines
SP Ted Lyons
SP Billy Pierce
SP Ed Walsh
SP Jack McDowell
SP Red Faber
RP Bobby Thigpen

To review the voting rules: Each player is selected by his primary position while playing with the White Sox, including outfielders. One player is selected for defensive position plus DH. Five starting pitchers and one relief pitcher are also selected. 

And now the Chicago White Sox All-Century Second Team.

Catcher: Sherm Lollar. Lollar was always overshadowed by Yogi Berra and Jim Hegan, but he was a strong defensive catcher, a great handler of pitchers, and a solid hitter. Lollar still is eighth on the all-time Sox home run list and ninth in RBI. He hit for moderate power. Sure Ray Schalk is in the Hall of Fame, but Lollar was the better offensive player, and not even Schalk could have been that much better than Lollar on defense to make up for his lack of offensive production.

First Base: Dick Allen. He saved the franchise and then practically destroyed it when he departed. He chased the horses across American when he should have been in spring training. He also killed the ball and was the AL's 1971 MVP. Love him or hate him, the Sox of the '70s lived and died with Dick Allen. When he broke his leg in 1973, the Sox went from
the penthouse to the outhouse.  He led the AL in home runs twice, in 1972 and again in 1974, the first Sox player to do that. He also led the AL in slugging percentage in 1972. No Sox first baseman until Frank Thomas was the offensive threat Dick Allen was.

Second Base: Nellie Fox. Fox finishes a very close second on my ballot. The only advantages that I really can see that Eddie Collins had over him were his batting average, on-base percentage, and stolen bases. Collins was faster than Fox. But look where Fox stands on the all-time Sox lists: second only to Luke Appling in games, runs, hits, doubles, and total bases. Tied for first with Shano Collins in triples (104), eight in RBI, tied for sixth in walks. And he never struck out. 

Shortstop: Luis Aparicio. Little Looie was the best defensive shortstop of the 1950's. He and Fox formed the best double combination in White Sox history. Aparicio still holds three of the top ten single-season stolen base records for the Sox and is second to Eddie Collins on the Sox career stolen base list. He is sixth in both runs scored and hits. For several years in the late 1950's and early 1960's Luis was the "go" in the Go-Go Sox.

Third Base: Bill Melton. The Sox have never been lucky in trying to fill the third base position. After Ventura there are just a couple of names to choose from. I have to go with the first Sox player ever to lead the American League in home runs, Beltin' Bill Melton. Until problems with a disc slowed him down, Melton was one of the top sluggers in the American League. People tend to overlook his defensive ability at third base. He wasn't flashy, but he got the job done. His only competition for the
second spot is Willie Kamm, who was probably better with the leather, but Melton's stick more than compensates for the difference.

Left Field: Minnie Minoso. This is the toughest choice I had to make. Joe Jackson was one of the greatest players ever to play the game, but Minnie Minoso is one of those guys who should be in the Hall of Fame, but no one has even considered him. Minnie is ninth on the Sox list of games played. He is fifth in runs, is about to drop to eighth in hits, is sixth in runs, tied for sixth with Joe Jackson in triples, seventh in home runs, fourth in RBI, sixth in total bases, tied with Fox for fifth in walks, tied with Harold Baines for sixth in slugging percentage, and is fifth in on-base percentage. And he did that starting with the Sox at
at age 28. Someone once did a projection of what Minoso might have done had he had a career unhindered by baseball's discriminatory policies, and it turns out that he would have had a good shot at the 3000 hit plateau, which would have guaranteed him a spot in the Hall of Fame. It seems as if both of the greatest Sox left fielders were victims of injustice that
have kept them from the honors they deserve.

Center Field: Lance Johnson. I might have just as well have said Ken Berry, and I have in the past. The "One Dog" wasn't as flashy as Berry, mainly because he didn't have to climb the bullpen walls to save home runs very often, but right now I'm in an offensive mood (a fact with which my wife would concur, as she is finding me extremely offensive), and I'll go with Lance today, if nothing else for leading the AL in triples all those times.

Right Field: Jim Rivera. If Magglio Ordonez had just a couple of more years in, I'd be tempted to select him. The Sox have had less greatness at right field than any other position, including third base. Jim Rivera was a sparkplug of the Go-Go Sox, though. He ran the bases with abandon, slid into bases on his belly before it was fashionable, and made many a game-saving catch.

Designated Hitter: Greg Luzinski. "The Bull" is probably the second most productive DH in Sox history, and was a major factor in the 1983 division championship with his 32 home runs and 95 RBI. 

Starting Pitcher: Wilbur Wood. Wood is also a candidate for the relief category, but his three twenty-win seasons from 1971-73 put him in the starter category.

Starting Pitcher: Doc White. A great pitcher with the "Hitless Wonders," White compiled a career record of 159-123 with an ERA of just 2.30. 

Starting Pitcher: Gary Peters. Peters' brilliant career with the Sox, in which he compiled a 91-78 record (.538) was marred by poor records the last two years with the Sox, but in 1963 and 1964, he was nothing short of brilliant. In 1966, although compiling a record of just 12-10, his ERA was only 1.98. If Peters had only had some hitters playing behind him, there is no telling what he could have done. Sox hitting was so bad in those days that Peters was one of the team's best pinch hitters.

Starting Pitcher: Dick Donovan. This tall, lanky righthander who moved like a cat and fidgeted on the mound was the number two pitcher behind Billy Pierce for much of the Go-Go era. During this time he pitched his way to a record of 73-50 (.593). Unfortunately, he was lost for much of the pennant winning season in 1959 due to injury.

Starting Pitcher: LaMarr Hoyt. In his six-season stint with the Sox, Hoyt completed a record of 64-49 (.566). The high point, of course was his brilliant 24-10 season as the Sox won the AL West championship.

Relief Pitcher: Hoyt Wilhelm. This was a very tough choice. Roberto Hernandez has more saves by far, but "Dr. Wilhelm's Traveling Medicine Show" epitomized the strong Sox bullpen of the 1960's. With fellow knuckleballer Eddie Fisher, and later with Wilbur Wood the Sox bullpen fluttered the opposition into submission.

Manager: Tony LaRussa. This was another tough choice, but LaRussa wins with a division championship in 1983. His overall record managing the Sox was 522-510 (.506), and he guided the Sox through the transition from being a doormat to winning their division by 20 games. 

Honorable Mention: 

C Ray Schalk, Billy Sullivan
1B Earl Sheely, Lamar Johnson
2B Jorge Orta
SS George Davis, Ozzie Guillen
3B Willie Kamm, Buck Weaver
LF Tim Raines, Carlos May
CF Johnny Mostil, Ken Berry
RF Magglio Ordonez
SP Roy Patterson, Reb Russell, Joel Horlen, Tommy John
RP Roberto Hernandez
MGR Jimmy Dykes, Fielder Jones

Dishonorable Mention (to those who stained their reputation and that of the White Sox for generations, and who would never be considered for this All-Century Team, even if hell froze over):

1B Chick Gandil
SS Swede Risberg
CF Happy Felsch
SP Eddie Cicotte, Lefty Williams
UT Fred McMullin


Editor's Note: Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old. For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon. When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are not necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at hvickery@svs.com.

More features from Hal Vickery here!
 

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