This happy bunch is the 1973 version of the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey. My guess is that this photo was taken early in the season when the team had plenty of reasons to smile. Chicago came out of the gate with an 18-6 record behind Pat Kelly’s .400-plus average and Mike Andrews’ .366. Tireless knuckleballer Wilbur Wood was 8-2 during that span and was 13-3 by the end of May. Though the Sox cooled off a tad they were still in first at the end of June. But when former-MVP Dick Allen got hurt the season went the wrong way fast and Oakland and Kansas City were too good to not go at fully-staffed. By the end of the year Andrews was in Oakland, Wood was only a few games over .500, Allen was still hurt, and everyone else except Carlos May had pretty much ho-hum seasons at best. They finished in fifth place with a 77-85 record.
I am going to try something new because these posts can take forever. I’m going to split this team card between two posts. I will start with the hitters and do the pitchers on the next post. Here we go:
Don Buford was pretty tiny at 5’6” but that didn’t stop him from being a two-sport star at USC in football (a two-way guy he led the ’58 team in rushing and interceptions) and baseball (where he teamed with Ron Fairly to win the ’58 CWS and hit .323 in his two seasons). He was signed by the White Sox in ’59, finished his degree, and began his pro career the next year. In college he played everywhere but concentrated on outfield his first couple seasons in the minors when he moved from B to A ball, hitting all over the map but putting up generally excellent OBA’s. In ’62 he played a bunch at third and hit .323 with a .443 OBA in A ball. He followed that up with a .336 and .401 season at Triple A in ’63 that got him named TSN Minor League Player of the Year and also got him to Chicago for a few late games in which he hit .286. The next two seasons he played mostly at second where he hit quite well for a Sox - .262 and .283 – showed off his speed, and again put up relatively good OBA numbers. In ’66 he switched to playing mostly third and stole 51 bases but saw his average drop to .244. After a similar season in ’67 he was traded to Baltimore in the deal that returned Luis Aparicio to Chicago. For the Orioles Don peaked while making his primary home in the outfield. For the next four seasons he averaged .283 while twice putting up OBA numbers above .400 and three seasons scoring exactly 99 runs and was in the playoffs for three years. He was an All-Star in ’71. In ’72 his average tumbled to .206 and he left the States to play ball in Japan, leaving behind a .264 average, .364 OBA, 93 homers, 718 runs, and 418 RBI’s. He hit .256 with five homers, eleven RBI’s, and a .363 OBA in 22 post-season games. He played ball for four years in Japan where over that time he hit .270 with 65 homers and was a three-time all-star. He returned to the US in 77 and worked in retail before returning to baseball. He coached for the Giants (’81-’84), USC (’85-’88), and in the Baltimore system (’89-’91) before managing in the minors a couple season (’92-’93). He then came up to coach for the O’s (’94) before doing various admin roles from ’95 to 2002. He then managed again in the Minors (‘2003-’04 and 2006) around a stint as a Nationals coach (2005). He went 260-292 as a manager. Since 2007 he has been a director of the O’s minor leagues. His sons Damon and Don Jr. both played pro ball and this Don has been inducted into both the USC and International League halls of fame.
Nellie Fox grew up in rural PA where from a young age he was playing ball in adult leagues, primarily as a first baseman. In ’44 he got a tryout with Connie Mack’s A’s after his mom wrote Mack a letter and Nellie got a contract. Only 16 his first season he hit over .300 in both D and B ball that summer. He then hit .314 at B ball with 19 triples in ’45 before missing all of the next year in the military. He returned in mid-’47 to a couple games up top and then back to B ball where he hit .281 while spending time at second base. In ’48 it was all second in A ball as he hit .311 and then moved up for good. In ’49 he played semi-regularly as Pete Suder’s backup and though he didn’t hit terribly well, he did fit right in Mack’s line-up with a very low strikeout total – nine in 247 at bats – that would be one of his hallmarks. But after the season he was traded to the ChiSox for catcher Joe Tipton. After a pedestrian season in his new home in ’50 Nellie turned it on the next year to become one of the best players in the league the rest of the decade. He would average 191 hits, 95 runs, and 14 strikeouts as he hit north of .300 the rest of the Fifties. He led the AL in hits four times, won two Gold Gloves – they weren’t introduced until ’57 – and played in nine All-Star games. In ’59 he won AL MVP as the Go-Go Sox made it to the Series. Defensively he did just as well, leading AL second baseman in putouts eight times and assists five times during that period. After another Gold Glove All-Star season in ’60 Nellie began to slow down as the Sox did also. After the ’63 season he was traded to the Colt .45’s partially to make room for Mr. Buford and had a season as the regular guy before playing behind and tutoring new guy Joe Morgan in ’65. He retired after that season with a .288 average with 2,663 hits, a .348 OBA, and only 216 strikeouts, or one every 48 plate appearances. In his only post-season action he hit .394 against LA. Nellie remained in Houston as a coach in ’66 and ’67 and then moved to Washington to do the same gig. He stayed through the team’s initial season in Texas and then returned to PA to run his bowling alley which he did until he passed away in ’75 from lymphoma. He was only 47. In ’97 he was elected to the Hall of Fame.
Johnny Mostil was born and raised in Chicago and after some semi-pro local ball got a tryout in 1918 and briefly made the White Sox as a back-up to Eddie Collins at second. The next two seasons he spent in the minors where his average improved by 50 points his second of two seasons in Double A. When he returned to Chicago in ’20 it was as a center fielder and in ’20 he split time with Happy Felsch. When in ’21 Felsch was banned from the game, Johnny took over and put in five good seasons as the regular guy there, averaging well over .300 during that time. In ’25 he led the AL in runs, steals (with 43), and walks (90). In ’26 he hit .328 with 35 steals, again leading the league in the latter category. In spring training of ’27 he had bad teeth, neuritsy or neuralgia (either way he had a nerve issue), and tried to kill himself quite violently using a knife and a razor blade. There has been supposition it was either over his illnesses or because his girlfriend dumped him for a teammate. He missed most of the rest of the season to rehab, returned for a full season in ’28 in which his average fell to .270, and put in a few games in ’29 before he was done. He finished with a .301 average with a .386 OBA and 176 stolen bases. He then returned to the minors where he coached and played for independent teams, hitting well over .300. In ’33 he began managing in the minors which he did through ’42 before losing time to WW II. He returned to manage from ’46 to ’48 and then became a scout, primarily for the ChiSox with spotty returns to manage. He scouted through ’68 and passed away in ’70 at age 74.
Eddie Collins grew up in Tarrytown, NY where in school he played quarterback and shortstop. He continued to do both when he went to Columbia University in 1903 at age 16. While in school he began playing summer pick-up games for which he was paid and was spotted one summer by an A’s scout and signed in ’06. He played a couple games for Philly that summer for which he got busted and kicked off his college team in ’07, though he was allowed to coach. After the season finished he put in a few games for the A’s and a few in the minors, his only time there. By then he was playing second mostly and in “08 he got his career going as he played outfield as well. In ’09 he had his first big year by hitting .347. He stayed in Philly though ’14 where he led the AL in runs three times and stolen bases once while hitting .337 with a .423 OBA. He also made it to the Series while there four times, winning three. In 1914 he hit .344 with 122 runs, 85 RBI’s, 58 stolen bases, and a .452 OBA to win AL MVP. After that season owner and manager Connie Mack, always hurting for cash, sold Eddie to the ChiSox. In Chicago he picked up where he left off, playing excellent defense at second while hitting .331 with a .426 OBA his twelve years there. In ’17 he won another Series and in ’19 he was famously uncorrupted as a member of the Black Sox. He took over managing the team late in the ’24 season and continued through ’26, putting up a record of 174-160 while still playing. After the ’26 season he returned to Philadelphia to hit .336 as a part-timer in ’27 and play sporadically while helping to coach the next three seasons. He finished with a .333 average and .424 OBA on his 3,315 hits. He also had 1,300 RBI’s, scored 1,821 runs, and stole 741 bases. In the post-season he hit .328 in 34 games. Defensively he led the AL in putouts at second seven times (and is second all-time), assists four times (first), and fielding percentage eight times. He continued coaching for Philadelphia in ’31 and ’32 and then moved to the Boston Red Sox as their GM in ’33 which he did through ’47. He was inducted into the initial Hall class in ’39. The one demerit on his record was that he did not take seriously the participation of black players in the majors which greatly contributed to Boston being the last team to have a black player. He was in declining health when he left the GM job and he passed away in ’51 at age 63 from cardiovascular disease.
Floyd Robinson grew up in San Diego and kicked off his career with the independent PCL team located there in ’54 his first summer after high school. He would show good speed and a decent average while playing for the team and its affiliates the next few seasons, topping out in ’55 when he hit .301 with 58 RBI’s in 335 at bats for its B League affiliate. In ’56 San Diego became hooked up with Cleveland so Floyd’s services went with them and he remained with the PCL team the next two seasons, improving to .279 with 27 steals for the ’57 team. He then missed all of the next two seasons to the military and returned to San Diego – now a ChiSox affiliate – to hit .318 with thirteen homers and a .399 OBA in ’60. He got some late games in Chicago that season and then moved into a starting outfield spot his rookie year of ’61. He hit .310 with a .389 OBA that year to make the Topps Rookie team and finish third in AL ROY voting. ’62 was his best season with a .312 average, all those doubles, and 109 RBI’s. He continued to hit well the next two seasons but in ’65 his average fell to .265 and then in ’66 to .237 and he was traded to the Reds following the latter season. His average stayed low in the NL and he also hurt his knee pretty badly that season. After a ’68 split between Boston and Oakland he was done. He finished with a .283 average with a .365 OBA. During the ’64 off-season he began his second career when he purchased a small apartment building back in San Diego. He has since been involved in real estate including an assisted-living senior center he built years ago that is apparently still a community gem.
Shoeless Joe Jackson really didn’t attend too much school while growing up in rural South Carolina and was already working in local mills before he reached double digits. He would also begin playing ball in factory and local leagues for the next ten years until his Greenville team made it into the D leagues in 1908 when he was 20. Joe hit .346 that season and was signed that year by Connie Mack – he signed a lot of these guys – to play in Philadelphia. Joe would have a rough go in Philly in a couple false starts in ’08 and ’09 but would return in ’09 and ’10 to post nice numbers in the minors, hitting above .350 both seasons. In the middle of the second year Mack traded him to Cleveland for whom Joe hit .387 in his few at bats the rest of the way. That average was good enough for him to be made a starter the next year and he turned in an amazing rookie season, hitting .408 with a .468 OBA while picking up 32 assists in the outfield. In ’12 he led the AL in hits with 226 and triples with 26 while hitting .395. In ’13 he led the league in hits and doubles while batting .373. In ’14 his average came in to .338 as he missed some games and in ’15 with his owner worried he would lose Joe to the Federal League he was traded to the White Sox for cash and players. His average tumbled to under .300 as he got adjusted to life in Chicago but he rebounded in ’16 with a .341 with 21 triples. After a dip to .301 in ’17 during the Series year he missed nearly all of ’18 to service work and ball during WW I. He returned in ’19 to hit .351 with 96 RBI’s and then got caught up in the Black Sox scandal. Too bad, because ’20 may have been his best season with a .382 average, 20 triples, and 121 RBI’s. But Joe, along with the seven other guys, was banned for life from MLB. He finished with an amazing .356 average, with 168 triples, 785 RBI’s, and a .423 OBA. In the post-season he hit .345 with eight RBI’s in 14 games. He was forever shut out of the Hall by his banishment. He then played semi-pro ball in the south and ran a liquor store until he passed away in ’51 at age 63.
Zeke Bonura was raised in New Orleans and by the time he was 16 was already a sports legend, but not for baseball. In 1925 he threw javelin in an AAU meet against the ’24 Olympics winner and won. Zeke was a big sports star in high school and then went to Loyola where for two years he played the big three sports and also coached the frosh hoops team for which he played. In ’29 after his sophomore year he signed with the New Orleans Class A team for whom he hit a ton, including 14 triples. In ’30 and ’31 he missed a bunch of games when he returned to school but still hit well over .300. After moving to Dallas at the same level the next two seasons he hit over 20 homers each year with about a .340 average. After the ’33 season he was sold to the White Sox for whom he debuted the next season and put up a .302 average with 27 homers and 110 RBI’s. The next three seasons he averaged about .322 with 17 homers and 110 RBI’s including ’36 when he hit .330 with a .426 OBA along with all those RBI’s. He did not strike out very often and was a pretty complete offensive player. The knock on him was that he was a lackadaisical fielder at first and would only catch balls thrown directly to him for fear of making an error. After the ’37 season he went to the Nats for a much better fielder and hit 22 out with 114 RBI’s for them. In ’39 he went to the Giants where he hit .321 but his RBI total dropped to 85 and in ’40 he hit .270 with only 65 RBI’s split between back in DC and for the Cubs. That was his last year up top and he finished with a .307 average with 119 homers and 704 RBI’s in seven seasons. In ’41 he played Double A ball – he hit .366 – and then enlisted in the service, was released, and then called back a couple days after Pearl Harbor. He spent the rest of WW II in the service where he arranged service games for troops in football, basketball, and baseball. By ’43 he was in Algeria where he would eventually win a medal for setting up fields and games over there. After the war he returned to baseball where he played and managed in the minors, mostly for independent teams. He did that through ’54 and then returned to New Orleans where he bred and raised prize beagles. He passed away in ’87 at age 78.
Luke Appling grew up in North Carolina and then went to that state’s Oglethorpe College where he played ball in 1929 and ’30, leading his team to a 15-0 record the second year. He was already 22 when he was a freshmen but I am not sure why his college years began so late. After his season ended he was signed to the minor league Atlanta Crackers, a Class A team. Luke hit .326 for them but also made 42 errors at shortstop, so the Cubs, who had an initial look at him, passed. The White Sox liked him enough, though, and signed him early enough that he got in some games up top and hit .308. The next year he split time at short and then took over in ’32, both seasons posting pedestrian offensive numbers and a few too many errors. But in ’33 he turned it on, hitting .322 with 85 RBI’s. He would be the Sox' starting shortstop through ’49 – he missed ’44 and almost all of ’45 to the service – and only once hit below .300. His big year was ‘36 when he led the AL with his average and had 111 runs, 204 hits, and 128 RBI’s, all personal highs. He rarely struck out, though he was an ace at fouling the ball off, and got on base a ton, posting an over-.400 OBA nine times. He was a seven-time All-Star and again led the AL in hitting in ’43 with a .328 average. In ’50 he played his last season, primarily as a back-up, and then retired with a .310 average on 2,749 hits, with 1,116 RBI’s and a .399 OBA. He also led AL shortstops in putouts twice, assists seven times, and errors five times. He is sixth all-time in assists and seventh in putouts. After playing he began managing, first in the Sox system (’51-’53, ‘62), and then in independent ball (’54-55, ’58-’59). His managerial record was 530-540 at that level. He also coached up top a bunch: for Detroit (’60); Cleveland (’61); Baltimore (’63); Kansas City (’64 –’67); the White Sox (’70-’71); and Atlanta (’76-’90). He scouted as well for the A’s (’68-’69) and the ChiSox (’72-’75) and even managed for KC as well in ’67 when he went 10-30 as a late-season replacement for Al Dark. It was Luke’s only shot at managing up top. He was elected to the Hall in ’64 and was still coaching for the Braves when he passed away in ’91 at 83.
I'll do the hook-up on the next post.