Tuesday, January 29, 2013

January 29- Chicago White Sox

Speaking of hats that have been around for a long time… the Chicago White Sox game style made a “comeback” in 1991 and is still the centerpiece of their headwear collection. Now, by comeback I am merely talking about the “SOX” logo moving at a downward left-to-right angle. Believe it or not, that particular logo made its original debut in 1951 as an alternate logo until 1963. Different variations were introduced as sleeve patches as well as logos for caps, but I will get to those later in the year.

One of the things that fascinates me most about this hat is that when I was a kid most people didn’t associate it to baseball. The rap group NWA pretty much made it a preferred wardrobe accessory of choice, seen regularly on the heads of either Dr. Dre or Easy-E. Rap. Hip-hop culture adopted this is as one of their flags and the kids who listened to their music ate it up. Ice Cube was more iconic for sporting a Los Angeles Raiders cap; but then again, what do I know? I’m just a white kid from the East Bay.

Unlike most of the kids in my neighborhood, I knew exactly what this hat was. After all, I’m a baseball fan.

Coming up with numbers to mark this hat was relatively easy, and not really choices that can be debated.

#13- Ozzie Guillen made his debut for the White Sox back in 1985… and was probably one of two other guys that most baseball fans could even remember from that era (Harold Baines and Carlton Fisk being the others). Guillen made an immediate impact with the club and easily won Rookie of the Year over guys like: Teddy Higuera, Oddibe McDowell and Stew Cliburn (Yah, I don’t remember them either). Guillen played shortstop for the Sox until 1997, only winning one Gold Glove in 1990 and making three All-Star games. The last three years of career found him bouncing around until he retired at the end of the 2000 season. Guillen went .264/28/619 with 1764 hits. Not exactly high impact numbers, but… it was what he did after his playing career ending that truly made him worthy. In 2004 Guillen was named manager of the Sox after they and Jerry Manuel parted ways at the end of the 2003 season. The move to put Guillen in charge an unusual choice at first, at least in my mind. Shortstops have never really made the greatest managers, but then again, I’m not a White Sox fan, so I was totally on board with them not succeeding. In his first year the Sox went 83-79 with Guillen at the helm, finishing in second place in the American League Central. In his second year the Sox won the World Series. In his third year… wait... WHAT!? That’s right; in 2005 the Sox won 99 games and won their first World Series title since 1917, a longer drought (by two years) than the Boston Red Sox endured the previous season. But, he wasn’t the fastest to win a World Series title within his first few years as manager. In fact, he’s not even in the top 8.

#35- Frank Thomas will probably go down in the history books as one of the three greatest players to ever wear a White Sox uniform. From 1990-2005 Big Hurt OWNED Chicago… from a baseball perspective that is. And don’t even bring up Sammy Sosa! Thomas is one of only a small handful of guys to win back-to-back MVPs, which he did so in 1993 and 1994. He almost won a third in 2000, but lost to Oakland Athletics first baseman Jason Giambi… barely. With a career batting average of .301, 521 home runs and 1704 RBI, Thomas may be a shoo-in (yes, this is the correct spelling) for the Hall of Fame. Another important milestone is that Thomas had 2468 hits for his career, and probably would have gotten 3000 had it not been for a slew of injuries in 2001, 2004-05 and 2008. All of those accolades aside I personally have to tip my cap to Big Hurt for his monster year in 2006 with the A's. Almost every critic had counted him out, but the A's rolled the dice anyway as they needed a jolt of power added to their lineup. Not only did Thomas add that boost, he led the team in home runs (39) and RBI (114) which in turn helped the A's win the American League West Division title and got him a fourth place finish in the AL MVP vote. Seriously, this guy was, and still is the real deal.

Oh! And don't even get me started on him having a video game named after him! WHAAAAAAT!?!?

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