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Ultimate Sox Team:
1980's
 

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 1980's.

First Base - Greg Walker
The best young talent the Sox had in the mid-80's.  A powerful bat and fundamentally solid game.  Career cut short by health problems.  Unknown and unloved because too few fans bothered to come to the park during the Dan Ryan Expressway reconstruction project.  Plus the team was all but packed for St. Petersburg, too.

Second Base - Julio Cruz
Career year in 1983.  Sparked the Sox to the division title.  Resigned by an infatuated Sox management -- and promptly turned into a complete bust.  Reinsdorf has cited Cruz as one of the reasons he will never again offer long-term guaranteed contracts.  We Sox fans are still paying the price today.

Third Base - Steve Lyons
The ultimate Sox utility player.  Capable of playing every position but none of them well -- perfect for our Sox.  Used to fill any number of holes in the roster.  His Sox career closely resembled the rudderless direction of the team in the late-80's.  Reached his greatest fame for dropping his pants at first base, demonstrating the sort of show biz sensibility we Sox fans love, too.

Shortstop - Jerry Dybinski
What Sox fan can't relate to Jerry Dybinski?  Slapping at the ball and running the bases hard.  Steaming around second base with your head down digging for third.  Arriving in time to avoid the tag but too late to realize your teammate is standing there, too -- a force out in the last and deciding playoff game of 1983.  For White Sox fans, the quintessential moment of the entire decade.

Outfield - Ron Kittle
The kid from Gary, Indiana living a childhood fantasy.  Roof shot home runs, playoff appearance, and Rookie of the Year honors.   Reality and injuries came crashing down on Kitty all too quickly.  Came back to the south side and proved a fan favorite all over again --- before being trade once more.  Typical Sox move.

Outfield - Ivan Calderon
Had some talent.  Had some style, too.  But what Ivan had most was gold chains.  It's a wonder he didn't beat himself to death running about right field with all the hardware jangling around his neck.  Never recognized as even a local star because of the anonymity that all Sox players suffered during the lean years of the late 80's.  Traded away before the returning fans could realize his talent.  Some of us haven't forgotten him.

Outfield -Bobby Bonilla
Had a cup of tea with the Sox in 1986.  That was the infamous year Hawk Harrelson took a shot at playing the role of general manager.  Hawk sent Bonilla to Pittsburgh for Jose DeLeon, the worst Sox trade of the decade.  Bonilla became a star in Pittsburgh while DeLeon was a bust at Comiskey.  Never one to learn from others' mistakes, Ron Schueler reaquired him in the mid-90's -- DeLeon, not Bonilla.  Oh brother.

Catcher - Carlton Fisk
Pudge, the Commander, whatever.  He was the Chicago White Sox of the 1980's.  Our first ever big free agent signing, a harbinger of the team's success that was to follow.  Forced to play left field for a few weeks in '87 so a rookie named Ron Karkovice could prove he couldn't hit major league pitching.  Ended his Sox career on a bitter note with Sox management in 1993.  We Sox fans never stopped loving him.

Designated Hitter - Harold Baines
Signed by Bill Veeck in the 70's.  A star throughout the 80's.  Cherished hero of Sox fans in the 90's.  A pure hitter with an easy stroke.  So loved by Sox management they've only traded him away two times.  Even Reinsdorf says he's his favorite.  Retired his number but didn't bother to announce it ahead of time.

Pitcher - Britt Burns
One of the young talented pitchers to rise from the Sox farm system in the late 70's.  Britt was the mongrel of the bunch.  He didn't have the big league form but he knew how to pitch.  The heart of a lion, he pitched nine shutout innings against Baltimore in the '83 ALCS.  Too bad LaRussa made him pitch the tenth too.

Pitcher - Rich Dotson
Another of the live young pitching arms to come up from the Sox farm system in the late 70's.
A mainstay of the Sox rotation for most of the 80's, finally traded to New York for a young outfield prospect named Dan Pasqua.  We should have kept Rich.

Pitcher - Bob James
One shining moment.  1985 was just that for Bob James.  32 saves for a competitive if not championship club.  Personal addiction problems consumed his talent.  Long forgotten once Bobby Thigpen arrived.

Manager - Tony LaRussa
The manager Sox fans loved to hate.  Always looking for ways to assert his manhood.  Taking on Harry Carey and Jimmy Piersall in the broadcast booth.  Throwing brush back pitches and challenging the other club to a fight, the Sox bullpen running in from center field to underline the point.  Finally terminated by Hawk Harrelson.  Immediately landed a job in Oakland where Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, and George Will (the Cubs fan) made him a big star.


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