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Who belongs on the South Side mountain?
MLB Mt. Rushmores
by Charlie Miller
Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history. We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.
Chicago White Sox Mt. Rushmore
Since 1901, this franchise has been to the postseason just nine times. Nine. Surprisingly, Ozzie Guillen is the only manager in history to take the team to the postseason twice. The Sox have been to five World Series winning in 1906, 1917 and 2005; losing in 1919 and 1959. The two teams with the clearest identities are the Black Sox of 1919, famous for throwing the World Series, and the 1959 Go-Go Sox, famous for flashy defense and daring, exciting baserunning.
The Big Hurt inflicted pain on opposing pitchers for 19 years, 16 of them spent in a Chicago uniform. Thomas was arguably the game’s best hitter for most of the 1990s, winning two MVP awards and finishing second once and third twice. During the decade, he averaged .320 with 30 homers and 104 RBIs. For eight seasons (1991-98) he had more than 100 runs, RBIs and walks in each season.
Fans of my generation don’t remember Old Aches and Pains, but we do recall Appling leading off the Cracker Jacks Old-Timers All-Star Game in Washington in 1983 with a home run — at age 75. The shortstop was a fixture in Chicago in the 1930s and ’40s. He led the league in batting in 1943 and was second in MVP voting, then missed all of 1944 and most of ’45 while serving his country. He was 10th in MVP voting at age 40 in 1947.
The Hall of Fame second baseman played just 12 of his 25 seasons with Chicago, but his time in a White Sox uniform accounted for 59 percent of his games. He had 2,007 hits and 1,065 runs with Chicago and batted .331.
The heart of the White Sox was at first base and in the heart of their lineup from 1999 until his retirement at the end of 2014. After making $12 million (or more) a season for the past eight years, the fan favorite accepted a one-year deal from the Sox for $2.5 million for his final season. He's second in games (2,268), fourth in runs (1,141), third in hits (2,292) and first in total bases (4,010). He's also second to Thomas in home runs and RBIs. This is an extremely close call over Nellie Fox.
Just edged out by Konerko, Hall of Famer Nellie Fox is second all-time in games and hits and third in runs.
Prior to making a brief cameo appearance in the dugout in 1968-69, Al Lopez managed the Sox from 1957-65, and led the team to winning seasons all nine years. Under his watch, Chicago won a pennant and finished second five times.
The poster boy for the Go-Go Sox in 1959 was shortstop Luis Aparicio. In two stints with the club, Aparicio was named Rookie of the Year and finished in the top 15 in MVP voting four times, including a runner-up finish in ’59. He led the AL in stolen bases his first nine season, the first seven spent in Chicago. Seven of his nine Gold Gloves were earned as a member of the White Sox.
Harold Baines could have been Mr. White Sox for all-time, but the team felt compelled to trade him during the 1989 season. The first overall pick in 1977, Baines hit better than .300 in a full season just three times for the Sox and drove in 100 twice.
Ed Walsh won 195 games in just 13 seasons in Chicago. He won 40 in 1908 and had three additional seasons of 24 or more. He led the AL in ERA twice, strikeouts twice and shutouts three times.
Ted Lyons won 260 games over a 21-season career spent entirely on Chicago’s South Side. He won as many as 12 games 13 times.
All 20 seasons of Red Faber’s career were in Chicago where the slender righthander won 254 games and tossed 29 shutouts.
Other teams' Mt. Rushmores: