Monday, March 18, 2013

March 18- Chicago White Sox

There’s a bit of nostalgia that comes with this hat, and it really has nothing to do with seeing a particular player wear during a certain game… sort of. Despite all the years of baseball I’ve witnessed I can still remember the first time I really recall seeing this game in action; and coincidentally, it’s also the first time I recall hearing the term and definition of south paw. Like most of you, the film “Field of Dreams” ranks very high on my list of favorite baseball movies of all time. With that, it also ranks very high on my favorite films of all time list, which is saying a lot. Unless you’ve known me for years, very few of you would know that I actually know way more about film, film theory and film production than I do about baseball. This was actually something that came up in the MLB Fan Cave way more than most would expect. For example, the day when the Avett Brothers came to do a live show we were paid a visit by actor David Keith who received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor in 1982 for his role in “An Officer and a Gentleman.” He was also in “Firestarter,” “Brubaker,” “The Indian in the Cupboard” and a slew of other films that I rattled off. When I mentioned this seven of the other eight Cave Dwellers looked at me as if I had lobsters crawling out of my ears… as did a few of the executives. I then said, “He played Jack Parkman in “Major League II.”” A collective, “OOOOOOHHHH!!!” washed over the crowd. I just shook my head.

Anyway, for those of you have seen “Field of Dreams” you know what I’m talking about. Ray Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner) is talking to his wife Annie (played by Ed Harris’s wife Amy Madigan) about how the farm is going under. Their daughter Karin (played by Gabby Hoffman who was making her film debut) is watching a Chicago White Sox game asking about the term south paw. One thing about that scene that very few know about is that the White Sox game was chosen specifically as in that same scene “Shoeless” Joe Jackson (played by Ray Liota) makes his first appearance wearing of course, his White Sox uniform.

While I had seen the hat before in baseball cards it never really had the same affect as seeing it in the film. What is even more unusual is that I somehow had missed out on or at least forgotten about that hat any of the times I watched the Oakland Athletics playing them on TV. After all, the film came out in 1989, the year the A’s won the World Series; however, filming was conducted in 1988 as the release date for the film was in April. Yes, I go pretty deep with my research. The White Sox wore this hat from 1987 until the end of the 1990 season, and in my opinion, it still stands as one of the best hats they ever wore mostly for its simplicity as well as it’s one of the few hats they wore with a logo on to not feature the word “SOX” in any form. This was in fact the first and only White Sox hat I ever wanted to scoop up and it took me 10 years to track it down.

Because of “Field of Dreams” I started to really take notice of the White Sox during the 1990 season. And with that, it made much easier to make my marking choices.

#12- From 1986-1990 Psycho Steve Lyons played on the South Side, only really get a chance to be an every day guy during the 1988 season when he played in 146 games. Born in Tacoma, Washington, but college bred at my rival Oregon State University, Lyons was never really the most dominant hitter nor defenseman, but he certainly made his presence known ever time he took the field. The biggest thing he had going for him was that he could play almost every position on the field… and he certainly did. No joke, during his time in Chicago he played every position at least once, including pitcher and catcher, throughout his tenure. One might say that he’s a modern day Trevor Plouffe (I threw that last part in for my Minnesota Twins loving girlfriend Angie Kinderman). After his playing career came to an end after the 1993 season Lyons got go hired by Fox Sports to do color commentary, usually with Thom Brennaman as his partner. The two of them even did the play-by-play for All-Star Baseball 2003 for the Playstation 2 and XBOX. (I have yet to be defeated in the XBOX version. 746 games and counting) But the one moment that Lyons is most known for took place against the Detroit Tigers on July 16, 1990.

In a televised, he created a stir that was replayed countless times. After sliding headfirst into first base to beat out a bunt hit, Lyons pulled down his pants to empty the dirt out and brush off his shirttail. After a few seconds (and a reaction from the crowd of over 14,000), he realized what he had just done and quickly pulled them up, humorously embarrassed. Although wearing sliding shorts under his uniform, this incident earned him another nickname, "Moon Man" Lyons. At the end of the inning, women in the stands waved dollar bills at him as he came to the dugout. How could you not love the guy!?

#72- The original Pudge made his MLB debut in 1969 with the Red Sox and ended his career at the end of the 1993 season with the White Sox. Carlton Fisk signed as a free agent to the White Sox at the end of the 1980 season despite playing 11 historic years, and being an all-around fan favorite in Boston. During his time with the BoSox Fisk made seven All-Star game appearances, won the American League Rookie of the Year award and his only Gold Glove in 1972, but he is most known for one of the most famous moments in World Series history… but that story will have to wait until October.

With the White Sox Pudge only made four All-Star game appearances, but did win three Silver Sluggers awards. Despite playing for 24 seasons Fisk unfortunately never won a World Series ring, and the closest he ever came to winning an MVP award came in 1983 when he finished in third place behind Eddie Murray and the winner, Cal Ripken, Jr. Fisk finished his career with 2356 hits (third all-time for a catcher), 376 home runs and 1330 RBI. The 1970s and 80s in the American League for catchers was a weird time period. Guys like Thurman Munson, Lance Parrish, Bob Boone and Jim Sundberg owned the Gold Glove awards, but all of them were mediocre hitters at best. In 2000 Fisk was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame; however, I honestly don’t see why. While he was one of my favorite players growing up, the reality is that he was an above average defenseman, and a pretty solid hitter for a catcher. My biggest beef, and this one come up later during a Milwaukee Brewers post in the future, is that he was not the greatest at his position during that era. But, the media loved him, which transitioned into votes after he retired, despite the fact that a guy like Ted Simmons, who played three less years than Fisk, did not get elected into the Hall of Fame even though he had equal defensive numbers and better offensive numbers. Shame.

Actually, the biggest thing to ever happen to Fisk during his time with the White Sox is that he was awarded a huge settlement by Major League Baseball for the owner’s collusion case in 1985 when Fisk got resigned by the White Sox for a lower yearly wage than the previous years despite being one of the top catchers in the game.

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