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Ultimate Sox Team:

by WSI editor George Bova

They aren't necessarily the best players of the decade.  They aren't the longest serving either.  In some cases they aren't even the fans' favorites.  But each of these players (for whatever reason) came to embody the Chicago White Sox of the 1970's.

First Base - Dick Allen
Credited by Chuck Tanner and General Manager Roland Hemond for saving the club.  American League MVP in 1972.  Tanner let Dick play by a different set of rules than anyone else.  Clubhouse dissension may have caught up to him in subsequent years.  Dick never achieved the same level of excellence again.  Went back to Philly where the locals still insisted on calling him Rich.

Second Base - Jorge Orta
The Sox second basemen of the 70's.  So naturally the Sox had to try him in the outfield, too.  One of the few players to bridge the gap between Allyn's Sox and Veeck's later in the decade.  Finally left for Cleveland via free agency --- another team in disarray.

Third Base - Bill Melton
A Sox fan favorite of the early 70's still loved today.  A solid bat if not a little clumsy in the field.  He and Dick Allen made for quite a show on WFLD-TV --- if you could see it through the snow of the UHF channel's signal.

Shortstop -Bucky Dent
Another talented player from the Allyn years that was too expensive for Bill Veeck to afford in the new era of free agency.  He ended up in Gotham where his celebrated piddly homer managed to land behind Fenway's Green Monster and put the Yankees back in the playoffs.  A light hitting Sox player even when wearing the Bombers' pinstripes.

Outfield - Ralph Garr
Nicknamed "Roadrunner" for his base running and base stealing ability.  However his speed did not translate into effective outfield defense.  Every fly ball was an adventure for Ralph.  Strong offense was only there to make up for weak defense.   Typical player of Bill Veeck's late-70's Sox teams.

Outfield - Chet Lemon
Chet did it all.  Hit for average, hit for power, ran the bases, played center field, and always tried to cut down the runners.  He did most (but not all) of this well.  Could have become a star with the Sox of the early 80's but was traded away for lousy Steve Kemp.  Chet got his championship ring with Detroit in 1984.

Outfield -Claudell Washington
"Claudell Slept Here" read the giant banner in right field.  If Bill Veeck's sorry looking pajamas were an incarnation of Sox mediocrity, then Claudell Washington wearing those pajamas came to embody the fans' view of second-rate effort, too.  He had major league ability but never appeared to apply himself.  Playing for the flat broke Bill Veeck Sox of the late 70's, who can blame him?

Catcher - Ed Herrmann
The prototypical Sox catcher.  Physically big and defensively strong.  Gave the pitchers confidence behind the plate.  Couldn't hit a lick.  Drove the Big White Machine.  What more could you ask for?

Designated Hitter - Oscar Gamble
Along with Richie Zisk, one-half of Bill Veeck's famous "rent a player" scheme of the 70's.  Oscar paid off handsomely leading the club with 31 homers in 1977 --- by far the most exciting of any season that decade.  Curtain calls from the dugout.  Doffing his cap to reveal his giant afro to standing ovations inside packed Comiskey Park.  In the off-season he signed with San Diego.  And it was over.  For all of us.

Pitcher - Wilbur Wood
The ultimate Sox pitcher of the 1970's.  The knuckleballer with the expanding waistline.  Equally adept at winning 24 games as pitching both games of a doubleheader.  The last of the three great knuckleballers to wear Sox pinstripes, Hoyt Wilhelm and Eddie Fisher being the other two.  Wilbur lasted into the late 70's, a little too old to ever collect the free agent riches that those of similar ability earned just a few years later.

Pitcher - Ken Kravec
Typical Sox pitcher of the Veeck years.  Too mediocre to ever post more than 15 wins.  Earned run average over 4.  Could be reliably counted on to serve up 200 innings of pitches without costing too much money.  That's all Veeck ever wanted from him.  Just hoped his team could score more runs than Ken gave up --- which more often than not they did.

Pitcher -Rich Gossage
A bright young talent everyone recognized.  An explosive fastball pitcher.  Bill Veeck knew he could never afford to keep him and traded him away to Pittsburgh for a season's worth of excitement from slugger Richie Zisk.  Gossage remained a superstar for another fifteen years.  Ever forced to mortgage the future, our Sox lost Zisk after just twelve months.  The trade that summed up the plight of the White Sox in the 1970's.

Manager - Chuck Tanner
Turned around the fortunes of a franchise headed for oblivion.  Smart enough to give Dick Allen the space he needed to become a superstar.  Brought back the fans who hadn't shown up in years.  Built the first half of the shaky financial bridge that successfully spanned the decade and left the club intact for a more prosperous era in the 80's.

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