Today's thoughts

Category: Chicago White Sox (Page 1 of 20)


Old Sport Shorts: Big Bertha #2207

A friend was over last night and I showed him my prized Sherm Lollar #10 1955 game-worn jersey. It’s in a glass case along with his worn, signature Rawling’s glove that pales in comparison to the 45” mitt worn by Baltimore Oriole’s catcher Clint Courtney in 1960 to better handler the knuckler of future Hall-of-Famer Hoyt Wilhelm. Courtney was back-up to Lollar for half the 1955 season before going to the Orioles while Wilhelm came to the White Sox in 1963, the year Lollar retired. I could find no evidence that they ever formed the same battery because Lollar only played in 35 games that final year of his career due to injury.

I also came across some interesting stats that prove how much the catcher matters to a pitching staff. A good example is that of future Hall of Famer, Yadier Molina, who while on the disabled list, St. Louis Cardinals starting pitchers had a combined 3-10 with an ERA above 5. The same is true as to why World Series Champion catcher Martin Maldonado remains in the Astros starting lineup despite a batting average of .151. Catchers should not necessarily be judged on their hitting.

Defensive skills, the ability to call a game and work with pitchers are incredibly important to a team’s success. It supports my argument as to why more catchers like Sherm Lollar, should be inducted into the Hall of Fame. His outstanding .992 fielding percentage, using the cumbersome gear of the era, supports the argument. Could a bigger glove have enhanced his chances or at least earned him more attention?

Clinton Dawson Courtney, nicknamed Scrap Iron, was an American professional baseball catcher who played in Major League Baseball for the New York Yankees, St. Louis Browns, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago White Sox, Washington Senators and Kansas City Athletics. He batted left-handed and threw right-handed. His oversized glove earned him notoriety. However, eventually MLB adopted a rule that restricted the size of a “Big Bertha” mitt like Courtney’s:

Rule 1.12: “The catcher may wear a leather mitt not more than thirty-eight inches in circumference, nor more than fifteen and one-half inches from top to bottom. Such limits shall include all lacing and any leather band or facing attached to the outer edge of the mitt. The space between the thumb section and the finger section of the mitt shall not exceed six inches at the top of the mitt and four inches at the base of the thumb crotch. The web shall measure not more than seven inches across the top or more than six inches from its top to the base of the thumb crotch. The web may be either a lacing or lacing through leather tunnels, or a center piece of leather which may be an extension of the palm, connected to the mitt with lacing and constructed so that it will not exceed any of the above mentioned measurements.”

The Sherm Lollar mitt in my collection measures less than 35” in circumference and is less than 11” from top to bottom. It’s well within the guidelines of this rule and ten inches smaller than Courtney’s. Meanwhile, “Old Sarge” Wilhelm, used primarily as a reliever, only had 52 career starts. Gus Triandos handled the catching duties in 32 of those games. Courtney got the assignment only 5-times, but “Big Bertha” also played a role in relief work during their two years together with the Orioles. Hail to the catchers!

Old Sport Shorts: Gold Gloves #2190

Sherman Lollar of the Chicago White Sox was the very first recipient of a Rawlings Gold Glove at the catcher position. In fact, in its inaugural presentation year of 1957, it was awarded to the best player regardless of league. In subsequent years it has been divided into American and National League position players. Lollar won the award three times while it was one of the few honors never bestowed on Yankee rival Yogi Berra. 

“The 2022 winners were announced prior to Tuesday’s Game 3 of the World Series between the Astros and Phillies on “Baseball Tonight” on ESPN2, with a record 14 first-time recipients earning the honor for best defensive player at each position (the old mark was 11, recorded in both 2020 and 1958, the year the award was established to include both Leagues.” For the record, only nine were presented in 1957, the fewest of all. 

National League 2022:

Catcher: J.T. Realmuto, Phillies                                          First: Christian Walker, D-Backs
Second: Brendan Rodgers, Rockies
Shortstop: Dansby Swanson, Braves
Third base: Nolan Arenado, Cardinals
Left field: Ian Happ, Cubs (first Cub at that position)
Center field: Trent Grisham, Padres
Right field: Mookie Betts, Dodgers
Pitcher: Max Fried, Braves
Utility player: Brendan Donovan, Cardinals

American League 2022:

Catcher: Jose Trevino, Yankees
Trevino is the third player in Yankees history to win a Gold Glove Award at the catcher position, joining Thurman Munson (1973-75) and Elston Howard (1963-64). Trevino led all Major League catchers with 21 defensive runs saved, which was also tied for the third-most Defensive Runs Saved in baseball, regardless of position.
First base: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays
Second base: Andrés Giménez, Guardians
Shortstop: Jeremy Peña, Astros
Third base: Ramón Urías, Orioles
Left field: Steven Kwan, Guardians
Center field: Myles Straw, Guardians
Right field: Kyle Tucker, Astros
Pitcher: Shane Bieber, Guardians
Utility player: D.J. LeMahieu, Yankees

In other baseball notes:

“A managerial search that included candidates such as Joe Espada, Ozzie Guillén and Ron Washington, Royals bench coach Pedro Grifol’s candidacy flew a bit under the radar.” It appears that he will be the new White Sox manager for the 2023 season, replacing Tony La Russa at the helm. 

I.U. alum Kyle Schwarber of the Phillies has now reached base in ten consecutive Playoff games with a  first-inning walk. He was the first to cross the plate last night with Bryce Harper’s 2-run homer. “Schwarbs” then went on to hit a 2-run bomb in the bottom of the 5th, part of a 5-homer Phillies barrage that led to a 7-0 victory over the Astros in Game 3. He was already a “Taco Hero” after stealing a base in Game 1, but has yet to be a candidate for a Gold Glove.

Old Sport Shorts: World Series #2185

Tonight is game one of the World Series that practically everyone in the world can watch on TV if they want. However, that wasn’t the case up until September 30, 1947 when three networks shared the broadcast of the very first World Series featuring the Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers. NBC televised games 1 and 5, CBS games 3 and 4, and DuMont games, 2,6, & 7. It was the first racially integrated series with Jackie Robinson going 7-27 and getting his first hit in game 2 to tie the score. Although it was televised, games were only seen on a small number of Eastern markets with stations connected via coaxial cable.

Sherm Lollar started game 3 at catcher for the Yankees wearing #29. He was a right-handed hitter and went 2-3 with two doubles, an RBI, and two runs scored. When the Dodgers brought in right-hander Ralph Branca in the 7th, manager Bucky Harris sent Lollar to the bench in favor of lefty Yogi Berra, who then proceeded to hit the very first pinch-hit home run in World Series history. The Dodgers still won 9-8, claiming their first victory in the series. Incidentally, four years later, Branca, pitching for the New York Giants, made unwelcome history again by giving up the 1951 Bobby Thomson “Shot heard round the world.”

Lollar did not play again until game 6 when he shared the catching duties with Aaron Robinson, the game 5 starter with Berra in right field. Sherm had another single and scored another run, going 3-4 in the series overall and earning his first World Series ring. His Yankees won it all in Game 7, but Robinson did the catching and Berra played right field. Neither of them had a hit. It’s the only time, so far, that the New York Yankees have won a Game 7 at home. In my collection, I have a piece of Sherm Lollar’s uniform from that series. He was traded to the St. Louis Browns in 1949 and finished his career with the Chicago White Sox starting in 1952.

Lollar’s next World Series was in 1959 with the Sox, losing to the Dodgers. He went 5-22 in that series. In 1966, he was a coach with the World Champion Baltimore Orioles. 


Old Sport Shorts: Home Run Derby #2177

Fellow I.U. grad, Kyle Schwarber, hit a monster home run yesterday to assist in a Game 1 Phillies NLCS victory. It sparked memories of the Cubs World Series run six years ago where he and Anthony Rizzo, now a Yankee, made history. “Riz” also hit a bomb off of Verlander last night in a losing cause in his quest for  another World Series ring. “Schwarbs” has made several appearances in the All Star Game Home Run Derby, slugging 55 home runs. Rizzo and Kris Bryant both participated in 2016, the first Cubs since Sammy Sosa’s 4th attempt in 2004. The only modern day Derby that I witnessed live was Miami 2017 with Aaron Judge winning it all. I ran across an interesting article written by Arnold Bailey about the early days of the 1960 TV show. It was a great childhood memory for me, recreating the event in our back yard with a whiffle ball and bat. 

From a baseball card collecting perspective, “a set of 20 baseball cards was produced picturing the collection of sluggers the show would feature. Today, those cards have gained a cult-like following and are among the hobby’s scarcest. American Motors, the show’s sponsor, produced the cards which were handed out at the carmakers’ dealerships across the country. Created in 1954, American Motors was then No. 4 behind the nation’s Big 3 (General Motors, Ford and Chrysler), with Rambler its top car. Apparently, neither AMC’s cars or its cards were overwhelmingly popular. That may be one reason why the “Home Run Derby” cards are so scarce today.” I was certainly not aware of them.

“The cards are about postcard size (3 1/8”-by-5 1/4”) and are unnumbered with blank backs. The fronts feature black-and-white posed photos, most of which show players from about waist up. The pictured player’s name and team are in two lines across the bottom. A black circle that promotes the show with a ‘See Home Run Derby on TV!'”

“The 19 players include nine future Hall of Famers (Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew, Mickey Mantle, Eddie Mathews, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson and Duke Snider) plus 10 other sluggers of that era. All but three of the players are pictured holding a bat, either resting it on a shoulder or positioned at the start of a swing. The other three – Bob Allison, Jackie Jensen and Eddie Mathews – are attempting to hold a smile while posing for the camera.”

“Fifteen of the 16 teams that then comprised Major League Baseball were represented on the show and the cards. Only the Chicago White Sox aren’t included, although the Pale Hose won the American League pennant in 1959. But the team hit few home runs despite its winning season (the team’s homer leader was catcher Sherm Lollar with just 22). While the pennant-winning White Sox have no representative in the “Home Run Derby” lineup, the lowly Washington Senators (who finished in last place, 31 games behind Chicago) have three (Killebrew, Bob Allison and Jim Lemon).”

“The other dozen teams sent one player each to hit homers: Banks (Cubs), Ken Boyer (Cardinals), Bob Cerv (Kansas City), Rocky Colavito (Indians), Jackie Jensen (Red Sox), Kaline (Tigers), Wally Post (Phillies), Dick Stuart (Pirates) and Gus Triandos (Orioles).”

“The home run totals for the 19 players would eventually reach 7,375 by the end of their careers. So the home run lineup was a powerful group, including three of the Top 10 homer hitters of all time (Aaron, 755; Mays, 680; and Frank Robinson, 586). 

The 20th card (now the hardest to find) in the set pictures Mark Scott, the play-by-play broadcaster of the original TV show and one of the creators. Here’s a link to the article with even more interesting details:






Old Sport Shorts: Jonesin’ #2168

I’m Jonesin’ for a sports fix since I haven’t been in front of a TV for 20 days now. Plus, the game I last watched was the Packers beating my Bears, leaving a bad taste in my mouth. Today, is Game Day and I.U. lost another football game that I couldn’t thankfully see, while the nemesis Boilers stayed on track for a Bowl game invitation. The baseball playoffs are going on but all I can do is monitor the play-by-play on my phone. We’re in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on a cruise ship, and live TV or streaming is not available. The MLB app can’t figure out where I am. To make matters worse, both the White Sox and Cubs did not make it to the postseason. Even my high school team games, the most likely to win each week, is limited to just a score. Yes, the Elkhart Lions did win – 35-0.

I.U. Basketball’s annual “Hoosier Hysteria” event was yesterday, and although I’ve never been, at least at home there are opportunities to see some of the action. Can’t See at Sea! Right now, the Rays and Guardians are scoreless after 14 innings in a game of potential elimination, but I’m limited to the ESPN app updates. It will be another few days when I finally can get on shore in Hawaii to sit in a bar and watch a live game. I thought that might happen a few Sundays ago in Juneau when I stepped inside the swinging doors of the Red Dog Saloon. However, for some reason, there was no live TV, just monitors showing beer commercials. Our fantasy team also lost this past week, with spotty access to scores on the internet. I need a fix!

It’s college football Saturday and at least I have scores to monitor. It’s five hours earlier than our Florida Eastern time zone, so I don’t have to stay up late, but all I can do is check my phone. Friends are headed to the ballpark, while others have checked in from Memorial Stadium in Bloomington. Everyone else that I know is watching at home or on their phones. I’m stuck in the middle of nowhere, no land in sight, with access to plenty of on-board bars showing nothing but boring monitor programming. There’s even a whisky tasting later today, but I’ll have to do it without a game in the background. It just doesn’t seem right – I’m Jonesin’!

Old Sport Shorts: Promise is in the Air #2155

The baseball season may well be over for the White Sox and Cubs, but there’s still some exciting developments. Albert Pujols joined the 700 club, Aaron Judge tied Babe Ruth’s single season mark, and the Dodgers are on track to set the single season win mark. Teams that haven’t already claimed their Division titles are focused on the Wild Card race and Shohei Ohtani is in the running for MVP.

The White Sox playoff chances came down to a 4-game series with the Guardians. They won the first game in Cleveland but as has been the case all year couldn’t take advantage of home field and were easily swept. Now, they are 10-games out after folding to the bottom-feeding Tigers also at their oddly unfriendly home park. The meaningless battle for Division runner-up will soon take place against the Twins. Thankfully, it won’t be at Guaranteed Rate, so maybe they can maintain their two-game margin?

Outcomes have not been all bad for this sports fan. IU football is 3-1 after their loss to Cincinnati and are still capable of bowl eligibility with 3 more victories. IU Soccer has been a bit disappointing at 3-2-2 because it’s usually the brightest Hoosier athletic program at this time of year. IU basketball is filled with what might be unreal expectations, but fun to dream about enjoying a winning season with hopes of tournament glory again. The Colts and Bears are both off to great starts with both teams winning against top foes too foes on Sunday – a rare occasion of late. Promise is in the air.

Retirement is not without Hassles: Alaska Here We Come #2146

We arrived in Portland just before midnight and have been on the go ever since. I met up with a friend first thing on Thursday to make the drive to Netarts Bay. We spent the night there with two small mishaps. First, the bed in the camper collapsed on me in the midst of a drunken stupor, causing me to humorously  wake-up disoriented on the floor. Secondly, the cat bit and clawed me to raise concerns about “Cat Scratch Fever.” I was already feeling a bit of hypochondria, with the potential of a positive Covid test that could have ruined our cruise plans. The unprovoked cat attack just gave me something else to worry about. However, there was undoubtedly enough alcohol in my blood stream to prevent any virus or infection. 

My time in Oregon was certainly blessed with good sports fortune. Hoosier football won an overtime  thriller over the Hilltoppers while we were watching the Ducks beat BYU in a McMinnville bar called Two Dogs. The White Sox beat the Guardians and took two out of three from the Tigers. The Timbers tied with Columbus, while Oregon State Beaver football won in their stadium while theirs is under construction. Fantasy Football is leading going into tonight’s Bears vs. Packers game that could prove that the Monsters of the Midway are indeed for real after an undefeated preseason and opener. The only of my favorites to fall short were the Colts and the already eliminated Cubs.

We both passed our Covid tests today and will make our way to Vancouver tomorrow on another First Class flight. It will be an early morning run tomorrow after an eventful afternoon touring the Nike campus. I’ve managed to get my miles in despite the drastic changes in time zones and routine. Alaska here we come. 


Old Sport Shorts: Too Good To Be True #2143

I’m not sure how to handle all the hype related to IU basketball’s upcoming season. Top ten ratings, high projected seeds, and all-American honors make it all seem too good to be true. I drank the Kool-Aid a few years ago with Hoosier football and the water turned poison. I keep expecting a disciplinary problem, recruiting snafu, transfer threat, or “God forbid” serious injury.

I know the talent is there, but through the last two decades, IU has gotten little respect. Now, all of a sudden, it’s through the roof for coaches and players. It feels good to be back in the spotlight again, but I can’t handle more disappointment. It would be better to experience a surprise and witness some proof of success rather than just trust expert opinion. Vaulted pre-season expectations have come back to haunt many a good sports program.

I’m also struggling with the come back capabilities of the White Sox. They have short spurts of success, just enough to boost expectations, followed by a equally bad set-back. Their 10-3 series ending loss to the lowly A’s last night when they could have pulled off the sweep proves my point. It all averages out to the .500 ball they’ve been playing this year despite grandiose pre-season hype. It seems to be the story for all my sports favorites. It’s no wonder I’m such a pessimist!

The Sox can’t seem to get by the division-leading Guardians and are running out of time. IU basketball has yet to play a game, but they’re already expected to win the BIG. To make matters worse, they’ve never won the BIG Tournament and haven’t had a solid run in the Big Dance for 22-years. They have a lot to prove on the court, just like the Sox have to find a way to win consistently on the field. 

IU football has managed to salvage victories in their first 2 games despite the lowest of expectations. The same for my Bears that pulled off a 49er upset and an undefeated exhibition season. I prefer these kinds of surprises instead of the mere hype of what might happen. It’s all too often too good to be true.

Old Sport Shorts: Get Ready for some Football #2142

There’s no point in even mentioning the Chicago Cubs anymore as they continue to fall to the bottom of the National League Central. The Chicago White Sox, however, seem to have found new life under the guidance of bench coach, Miguel Cairo. Tony La Russa continues to recover and could soon be back in charge. It could change the momentum of the team that has won 8 or their last 10 games and claimed second spot in the division. They are only 1 1/2 games out of first behind the Guardians with four games yet to play against the division leaders. They could still make the Playoffs despite the injuries and lack of clutch play that has plagued them all year long. 

One of the highlights of this particular White Sox run was a ninth inning rally this weekend, after being held hitless through the seventh. Oakland held a 3-0 lead but the stubborn Sox scored five to keep their streak alive. Too many times this season they had failed to score with runners on base. It restored my faith in the team after giving up on them countless times throughout this futile season. 

Fantasy football officially begins today, although Cooper Kupp has already given us a lead from his steady performance Thursday night against the Bills. Our opponent failed to outscore him using three players, so we have an advantage heading into the rest of this week’s action. My son and I drafted the team a few weeks ago at Buffalo Wild Wings here in Port Charlotte. We were able to use last year’s winnings to fully pay our participation fees.

I was swinging a golf club again yesterday, during an outing with my grandson at Top Golf in Ft. Myers.  As expected, I quickly tired of the activity but it was a good bonding moment with my son’s 15-year old. It was a good thing that I had selected an indoor course because it was pouring down rain most of the time. 

Hoosier football once again responded in the second half last night with another come-from-behind victory. This time it was Idaho that took an early 10-0 lead, but Indiana scored the next 29-points and went to 2-0 with a 35-22 victory. They next face undefeated Western Kentucky with decisive victories over Austin Peay and Hawaii, followed by Cincinnati, Nebraska, and Michigan in their quest to become bowl eligible. I can still see wins over the Hilltoppers and Rutgers to get five of the six necessary conquests. Nebraska and Maryland are possibilities, with rival Purdue as a longshot. Let’s get ready for some football. 

Old Sport Shorts: Better to be Lucky than Good #2137

I’ve been expecting a run by the White Sox all season long. It’s hard to believe that with the lineup of stars that they have, they’re still in third place and have failed to outscore their opponents going into the last month of the season. There have been some teases like early last month when they won five straight games and moved into contention, only to fall apart once again. It’s been a consistent story of injuries, bad base running, poor defense and a lack of clutch hitting. Tony La Russa, the aging manager, has justifiably been under fire and has finally succumb to health issues. Miguel Cairo has taken over at the end of losing 10 of their last 12 games in August and falling once again below the .500 mark. 

The temporary change in management has proven effective with 4-straight wins, including last night’s 13-0 rout over the Twins. A no-hit effort by Dylan Cease was broken up in the ninth inning. The White Sox are now only 2-games out of first and a game behind the Twins, but this is where the wheels fell off in August. I’ve never felt such frustration for a baseball team than I have this season. In any other division, they would be entirely out of the pennant race. I refuse to get my hopes up and once again dashed, but fortunately there’s only a few weeks left in the season. They need to somehow maintain this hot streak and get Tim Anderson and Luis Roberts back in the lineup. May luck finally be on our side in September!

Speaking of frustration, Indiana football failed to win a Big Ten game last year. They finally ended that painful draught with a 23-20 victory over Illinois this week, even though it was an ugly win. The team got some breaks for once and can build on the momentum. Missouri quarterback transfer and new Hoosier Hero, Connor Bazelak, led the come-from-behind winning effort with the clock running out. In the case of the Hoosiers and White Sox this year, it’s better to be lucky than good. 

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