The Chicago White Sox joined the major leagues in 1901 and have seen some amazing players wear their uniform over the past 121 seasons. They include names of ballplayers kids today know and love and some from yesteryear which most of us never had the privilege of watching play the game. So what does an all-time starting nine look like?
Names like Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron most of us know, but what about players from specific franchises? Today, we will look back at the historic White Sox franchise and what this writer thinks is the best lineup one could form using the entire 121-year history of the South Siders. I will break it down position by position. For fun, I will add my all-time starting rotation as well. Let’s get started!
Catcher – #72 Carlton Fisk
Carlton Fisk is somewhat a no-brainer here in my opinion. Fisk could also go down as an all-time great for his career run in Boston. He made his major league debut in 1969 and actually played a total of 24 years in the major leagues before calling it quits after the 1993 campaign. While Fisk spent his entire major league career in just two cities, he nearly split it evenly between Boston and Chicago, playing 11 years in Boston and 13 in the windy city.
As a hitter in Chicago, Fisk slowed slightly from his pace in Boston dropping from a .284 / .356 / .481 slash line to a .257 / .329 / .438 for his career in Chicago. While the pace did slow a bit, he bashed an astonishing 72 home runs after turning 40 years old. The original Pudge was a great player for the Sox for a long time. Fisk finished his career with a career 68.4 wins above replacement, went into the Hall of Fame in 2000, and will forever live on in Cooperstown as one of the greatest White Sox ever.
First Base – #15 Dick Allen
While some would say Frank Thomas should slide into this position, I give the nod to Dick Allen. While Allen only spent three of his 15-year career with the White Sox, he was a beast. Allen put up a three-year slash line of .307 / .398 / .589 and smashed 85 home runs for the Sox during his tenure. Allen was a seven-time all-star during his career and won the American League Most Valuable Player Award in 1972 while with the White Sox. While Allen was known as a bit of a troublemaker and an outspoken player during his career, he produced and nobody can deny that. Allen should be in the Hall of Fame, but that is a story for a different day.
Second Base – Eddie Collins
Eddie Collins, sometimes better known as “Cocky,” played for the White Sox from 1915 through 1926. While Collins was on the infamous 1919 ” Black Sox” team that threw the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds, he was never accused of being part of the conspiracy. Collins started his professional career with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1906 and was best known for his intelligence, knowledge of the game, incredible speed, and confidence. This quickly earned him the nickname “Cocky”. Collins remains one of only two players to steal six bases in a single game and is still the only player to ever do it twice.
Cocky spent twelve years with the Sox slashing .331 / .426 / .424. He led the league in stolen bases three times in his career and twice while playing with the Sox in 1923 and 1924. Collins amassed 741 stolen bases in his career, good enough for seventh all-time in major league baseball. Cocky did win an MVP in 1914, the year before joining the White Sox. Collins was enshrined as a player in the Hall of Fame in 1939. He did manage the Sox for two-plus seasons and finished with a .521 win percentage. Nellie Fox absolutely does earn an honorable mention here!
Third Base – #23 Robin Ventura
While many of the young kids know Robin Ventura as the skipper of five years prior to the rebuild starting on the South Side, Ventura manned third base for the White Sox for ten years. He was drafted tenth overall in the first round of the 1988 major league baseball draft Ventura was a two time all-star and won six gold gloves during his 16 year career. While in Chicago, Ventura slashed .274 / .365 / .440 belting 171 home runs over ten years. While he will probably never be in found in Cooperstown, Ventura has been elected to the National College Baseball Hall of Fame. Ventura proved to be rock solid at third base over the course of his career but unfortunately for him, his biggest moment as a major leaguer, may have been charging the mound on Nolan Ryan. I could watch that all day!
Shortstop -#4 Luke Appling
Luke Appling began his career with the Chicago White Sox in 1930 and played all twenty years of his career with the same organization. Appling finished his amazing career with 77.6 career WAR. He put up great numbers throughout his career with the Sox; though his most impressive feat may have been at age 75 when Appling hit an actual home run at RFK Stadium in 1982.
He also posted what is still the highest single season batting average in franchise history at an eye-popping .388 striking out only 25 times during that historic 1936 season. Appling did leave major league baseball for the 1944 season for military service. His career slash line is .310 / .399 / .398. Following the 1932 season where Appling hit just .274 he would go on an impressive nine year tear where he would not once finish with an average lower than .303. In fact, Luke Appling would only fall below a .300 batting average four times over his 20 year career!
Left Field – Minnie Minoso
Minnie Minoso or Mr. White Sox had an impressive career slash line of .299 / .387 / .461 with an .848 OPS. While we could talk about what Minoso meant to the White Sox and why he has a statue today at Guaranteed Rate Field, let’s try to stick to what Minoso did on the field.
The left fielder spent twelve years of his long 20 year career with the White Sox and produced a better than career slash line of .304 / .397 / .468. Minoso played good defense as well mustering a .973 fielding percentage over 14 years spent in left field committing 86 errors. While that number may seem large consider this was over 1,509 games and 12,913 innings. While Minoso will forever be remembered as the first Afro-Latino player in the major leagues and the first Black player in White Sox history, he was in fact a great ballplayer as well. Minoso won three gold gloves, hit over .300 in eight seasons and was a seven time all-star. Minoso was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2022 by the Veterans Committee.
Center Field – Johnny Mostil
Johnny Mostil spent ten years in the major leagues and spent all ten with the White Sox organization. Mostil was a career .301 hitter and slashed .301 / .386 / .427. Mostil had two monster years for the Sox in 1925 and 1926 when his on-base percentage was .400 and .415 respectively finishing his career with a nice .812 OPS ( on-base plus slugging ). Also in 1925 Mostil led the American league in runs scored and stolen bases. He would again lead the league in stolen bases in 1926.
While Mostil was a great hitter, he was also a great defender. Mostil led the league in fielding percentage in 1925 and spent five of his ten years in the top five while also recording five seasons in the top five for assists. Mostil passed away at the age of 74 and is not in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. There is a center fielder in Chicago right now who in my opinion has all the tools necessary to replace Mostil on this list but that is a subject for a different time.
Right Field – Shoeless Joe Jackson
Shoeless Joe Jackson played with the White Sox from 1915 to 1920 amassing 30 home runs and a whopping 433 RBI. Jackson carries with him to this day the fourth highest career batting average in major league history at .356. Jackson’s career slash line is .356 / .423 / .517. Leading the league in hits twice in his career in 1912 and 1913 is also impressive. Focusing more on his time with the Sox, Jackson also led the league in triples twice in his career in 1916 and in 1920. Jackson had 13 productive years in the sport before being permanently banned from the sport in 1921 for his role in the 1919 Black Sox Scandal.
DH – #35 Frank Thomas
Frank Thomas, or The Big Hurt, played first base for the White Sox for 16 years although many times Thomas would find himself in the designated hitter role. He would actually only cross the 100 game mark at first base three times in his 16 seasons with the Sox. This is why I found it appropriate to slot him in as the DH. Thomas crushed baseballs for a long time in a White Sox uniform hitting a whopping 448 home runs while on the southside and is beloved by Sox fans everywhere. The Big Hurt’s slash line is an outstanding .301 / .419 / .555. At a time where numbers were generally inflated a bit due to the era he played in, Thomas’s numbers were still incredible. While you will not find a ton of defensive accolades for him the offense in itself is and was enough to get him elected to the Hall of Fame in 2014.
While I will not elaborate on my starting rotation it will be made up of guys I have seen pitch. You are free to ridicule this list, but it is mine and I will own it! A few of these guys are certainly not all-time greats but were my favorites in their time and this part was just for fun for me.
- Mark Buehrle – 5x All-Star and won 4 gold gloves.
- Chris Sale – 7x All-Star and 2x AL strikeout king.
- Jack McDowell – 3x All-Star and 1993 Cy Young award winner.
- Jose Contreras – 1x All-Star / watch the 2005 postseason.
- Jon Garland – 1x All-Star / watch the 2005 postseason.
While my all-time White Sox lineup may not match yours and that is the fun of it, this is without question an incredible lineup. The White Sox of today hold tons of promise and some players have real shots to crack this lineup but only time will tell.
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