Originally Posted by LITTLE NELL
The worst depression was 68, 69 and 70 mainly because I grew up with nothing but winning seasons by the Sox.
1976 was a downer but Veeck signed Zisk, Gamble and Solderholm in the off-season and I thought that the Sox would be over .500 but but what a fun year it turned out to be at least until mid August, still wound up at 90-72.
Veeck didn't sign Gamble. The Sox traded their most popular player, Bucky Dent, for Oscar Gamble, who had never lived up to his his potential. The big player in the deal turned out to be LaMarr Hoyt, but he was still a few years away. Gamble had only one hit 20 home runs in a season, and then only 20. After his 31-homer season with the Sox, he would never hit 20 again. Gamble didn't actually sign a contract until late in the 1977 season. He was holding out for more money during his free agent year, and he was determined to become a free agent.
Veeck didn't sign Zisk. The Sox traded Terry Forster and Rich Gossage to the Pirates for Zisk, who also was determined to become a free agent. Forster and Gossage were to become free agents as well, making it a curious deal
Soderholm signed as a bargain free agent (at a time when teams participated in a free-agent draft for negotiation purposes, I don't recall Soderholm being drafted by many teams), but he wasn't highly regarded at all, at least not as a power hitter. He was less anticipated in 1977 by fans than Keppinger was this year. He had seasons of 25 and 20 homers with the White Sox, but otherwise never hit more than 11 homers in a season. Other free agents the Sox signed before the season, Timmy Nordbrook and Royle Stillman, went unnoticed by most fans.
Fans knew Zisk and Gamble would be gone. After the 1977 season, Veeck traded young players including Brian Downing for pending free agent Bobby Bonds, who he hoped you pull a Gamble, and traded him early in 1978 for Claudell Washington, who looked like he could be Gamble.
If you're saying you anticipated improvement after the 1996 season, you are probably remembering it wrong. I don't know how optimistic you could have been about 1978 after losing Zisk and Gamble and giving up another young potential star for one superstar who obviously didn't have a future with the team.