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In honor of actor Andy Garcia and his (unintentionally) hilarious reaction to Sofia (Mary Corleone) Coppola's death scene in "The Godfather, Part III."
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1970 Offseason

Posted 07-07-2017 at 11:53 PM by TommyJohn
Updated 06-30-2019 at 01:16 PM by TommyJohn

The 1970 Offseason

Roland Hemond looked at the disaster that was the 1970 team, rolled up his sleeves and dug in.

He decided that the rebuild had to start with the players who had their best seasons and could thus bring the most in the trade market-Luis Aparicio and Ken Berry. It hurt to have to put them on the block, but both were older and Hemond needed to bring in players that were younger and could contribute to the team a few years down the line.

There was also the matter of Aparicio cutting up jerseys in a scary, diva-like rage. And the moment that Ken Berry called Syd O'Brien's kid a "clubhouse leader" he was toast. So both had to go. (Ok, maybe I made this last paragraph up.)

The first Hemond trade actually came in October, when he managed to convince the Royals to take Gail Hopkins and John Matias off his hands in exchange for promising minor league outfielder Pat Kelly.

The boom falls on November 30, when Berry is shipped to Hemond's old team the Angels in exchange for catcher Tom Egan, outfielder Jay Johnstone and a badly needed pitcher in bespectacled Tom Bradley, possessor of a mean fastball as well as a bachelor's degree in Latin.

Robert Markus of the Tribune is disappointed with the trade and sorry to see Berry go. Nevertheless, he expresses confidence that the Sox know what they are doing, accepts the reality of rebuilding and that there are no untouchables. "Did you hear that, Luis?" He asks.

The end comes for Luis the next day. He is dealt to the Boston Red Sox for 2nd baseman (and 1967 Impossible Dream Team alumnus) Mike Andrews and minor league shortstop Luis Alvarado.

Aparicio forgoes kissing off the White Sox with any snarly hexes, jinxes and curses in favor of a more tactful and dignified exit this time around.

Not so tactful and dignified is Tribune writer Dave Condon. He picks up the snarliness slack by unloading on the White Sox in his column. He calls the trade "One of the ten stupidest in baseball history" and says the Sox made the other nine.

"The White Sox need a helluva lot more than new blood. They need a transfusion. They need an oxygen tent. After the Aparicio trade, they need a team of psychiatrists."

He also suggests that Sox fans respond to the trade by boycotting the park in 1971; leading one to wonder where Dave had his head firmly tucked when he wrote his column. What did he think Sox fans had been doing for the past three seasons of putrid baseball?

Dave tops off his column with "Ed Short, come back! All is forgiven!"

Sox fan opinion was divided on the Luis Aparicio trade. Some wrote to the Tribune denouncing the trade, with a couple fans vowing (for the umpteenth time, probably) to never set foot in White Sox Park again.

Others wrote to express support for the trade and the rebuild while slamming David Condon's hatchet job. One letter writer pointed out that for years the media had slammed the team's complacency. Now that they were trying a new approach to pull them out of their doldrums, they were getting slammed for that. One fan poked Condon with "If [Hemond] had been a Notre Dame graduate, Condon would've praised the deal."

Hemond's next big acquisition was slugging outfielder Rick Reichardt, who came to the team from the Washington Senators in exchange for pitcher Gerry Janeski. Reichardt had begun his career with the Angels and was thus familiar to Hemond and Tanner.

The biggest offseason acquisition by far, not only for 1971 but for the entire decade, wasn't even a player.

Bob Elson said farewell to the White Sox after 40 years of calling Sox games on the radio. He and his partner Red Rush went off to Oakland to call A's games for Charlie Finley.

The man taking Elson's place was 56 year old Harry Caray, coming to the Sox after 1 season in Oakland. Harry had made his mark in St. Louis, where he called Cardinals games for 25 seasons before being suddenly fired. Harry was loud, brash and colorful. He called every game like it was the 7th game of the World Series. He would endlessly plug and drink the sponsor beer during games. Perhaps not by coincidence, he would get louder and louder as the game wore on. He also dished out harsh criticisms to players when he thought they deserved it or when he just didn't like them. All in all, he was a passionate baseball fan and a great promoter for America's national pastime.

Harry was also known to be a great athlete in America's other national pastime, and long-standing rumor has it that Cardinal owner Gus Busch dismissed the popular announcer after catching wind that Harry was slipping Mrs. Busch the ol' ballpark frank. This rumor has never been substantiated and many including Harry himself always dismissed it out of hand. Still, it seemed odd that Gus would toss his beer-and-poker playing buddy after such a long time.

The big question for Harry was-where would he broadcast? WMAQ had politely not asked the Sox back after four years of declining ratings. No other AM station in the city wanted them either. The Sox were a pariah in their own town.

Finally, the Sox planned to form their own network by signing on to several small suburban stations that would blanket the Chicago area. WTAQ in LaGrange and WEAW in Evanston signed on to be part of the White Sox radio network. Part of the deal was that Ralph Faucher, WTAQ owner/station manager/lecherous perv, would call the games with Harry.

Whatever the reason for his dismissal from St. Louis, Harry was coming to the south side for the 1971 season, and the White Sox and the Chicago sports scene in general would never be the same.
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