Ballpark Tour: Giants

Spring training is a little less than a month away as we continue our tour of all of the baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years. Today we travel west to the Bay area for the baseball homes of the San Francisco Giants.  Between the two stadiums that have been located in and around San Francisco, I’ve seen 2 games. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history with Candlestick Park and AT&T Park.

Stadium Name: 3 Com Park

Years in Service: 1960 – 1999

Visits: 1

When the New York Giants moved west in 1958, the city of San Francisco began constructing a new ballpark for them, and Candlestick Park was born. The stadium opened in 1960 and was the home of the now-San Francisco Giants through the 1999 season. Along the way, the stadium has also played host to the Oakland Raiders, the San Francisco 49ers, dozens of commercials and movies, and, in 1965, the final commercial concert appearance by the Beatles.

In September of 1999, I headed out to the Bay Area to visit an old friend. One of the items on our agenda was to head out to Candlestick, which had been renamed 3Com Park by this point, to see a game before the Giants moved to their new home the following season. With only 13 home games left on the schedule, we set out to see the Giants take on the Phillies on September 2. The Giants, behind starter Joe Nathan, defeated the Phillies 3-2 on a cool autumn afternoon.

Stadium Name: AT&T Park/Oracle Park

Years in Service: 2000 – Present

Visits: 2

After flirting with a move to Tampa Bay, the Giants opened Pacific Bell Park in 2000 after 40 seasons at Candlestick Park. The ballpark was the first stadium built without public funds since the completion of Dodger Stadium in 1962. The stadium was renamed SBC Park in 2003 and then finally AT&T Park in 2006 thanks to the corporate upheaval in the telecommunications world. In April 2010, the stadium became the first MLB ballpark to receive LEED Silver Certification for Existing Buildings, Operations and Maintenance.

In May of 2008, I made my second trip out to Bay Area, this time to attend the Java One conference. The week started with the A’s in town while the Giants returned home for a weekend series, so I adjusted my schedule so that I could attend games at both stadiums. Friday night, after most of the techies had left town, I hopped on the bus down to AT&T Park to see the Giants, once again, take on the Phillies. I dropped some major coin for the best tickets in the house, which got me in a box between home plate and the Phillie dugout and a prime spot on the evening’s telecast. The Phillies, on their way to a World Series championship, defeated the Giants 7-4.

This past August, I mage my third trip to San Francisco, this time for a trip to one of our affiliates for talks about their entry into the broader corporate umbrella.  Wouldn’t you know it, but the Phillies were in town once again.  With Madison Bumgarner on the bump, the Giants shut down the Phillies as I took in the game a mere 3 rows behind the Giants dugout.

Book 1 (of 52) – Hawk

Hawk: I Did It My Way – Ken Harrelson with Jeff Snook

As his broadcast career was winding down, Ken Harrelson decided to move his stories to a different medium, looking back at his life and career in Hawk: I Did It My Way.  He chronicles his life, from being born in South Carolina and raised in Savannah, Georgia, to the minor leagues, the big leagues, the PGA tour, and, eventually, the broadcast booth.  Harrelson has crossed paths with everybody who was anybody, from his former A’s boss Charlie O. Finley to Arnold Palmer to Frank Sinatra to, as you may not have known, Carl Yastrzemski.

While Harrelson’s exploits during his playing days and his attempt to make it as a professional golfer offer interesting stories, its his time as a broadcaster that was most appealing to this White Sox fan.  Originally hired in 1982, along with Don Drysdale, to replace fan favorite Harry Caray, Harrelson spent 32 years broadcasting for the White Sox, with a break after his ill-fated tenure as the team’s general manager in 1986.

If anything, I would have liked to hear more about that season.  Harrelson did go over some of the moves that he made, including firing Tony LaRussa and trading Rule 5 draft pick (and future star) Bobby Bonilla back to the Pirates, but there were other controversies that went untouched, like moving Carlton Fisk to left field.  In fact, given how often the two must have crossed paths between Boston and Chicago, there is only one mention of Fisk at all, a throwaway tale from spring training in the late 60s where Hawk and Yaz quipped that he’d never make the big leagues.

This is a must read for any White Sox fan, regardless of your thoughts on Harrelson.  He was the voice of the team for a generation and his stories offer a unique insight in to one of the most successful eras in White Sox history.

Ballpark Tour: A’s

With the offseason underway, we continue our tour of all of the different baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years. This week, we return to the Bay Area to look at the Oakland A’s. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history with the originally-named Oakland Coliseum.

Stadium Name: McAfee/Network Associates Coliseum

Years in Service: 1968 – Present

Visits: 2

The Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum opened in 1966 as the home of the Oakland Raiders.  Two years later, Charlie Finley moved his A’s from Kansas City to Oakland and became the baseball tenant of the stadium.  In 1998, the stadium became known as Network Associates Coliseum.  In mid-2004, Network Associates was renamed McAfee and the stadium was renamed McAfee Coliseum accordingly.  Following the 2008 season, the name reverted back to Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum until April 27, 2011, when it was renamed Overstock.com Coliseum. Just over a month later, the Coliseum was renamed O.co Coliseum, after Overstock.com’s marketing name.  The A’s have officially been looking for a new home since 2005, with Major League Baseball sitting on a feasibility study for over 4 years on the team’s potential future in the East Bay.

Both times I’ve traveled to the Bay area, I’ve taken in both Giants and A’s games.  My first trip to what at the time was called Network Associates Coliseum was on September 6, 1999 while I was out west visiting my friend Scott.  The Tigers triumphed over the A’s that day, and my one memory of the stadium is that the seats were not necessarily positioned in such a way as to face the field for baseball purposes.

My second trip to the Bay area, for the JavaOne conference in 2008, actually started out with a BART trip out to Oakland for a 2-1 A’s victory over the Orioles on May 5th.  The A’s had opnened up three sections of the third deck as designated All-You-Can-Eat seats, where, for the price of the ticket, free ballpark fare was included.  While I enjoyed the novelty of the free foodstuffs, the seats, while directly behind home plate, were horrible.  Leaving early in order to catch the train back to San Francisco led to the problem of trying to get out of the stadium, since none of the gates were open.

The A’s have spent over a decade trying to find a new home, and with good reason.  The Coliseum was mainly configured for the Raiders, who will be leaving town soon, and the A’s have been second class citizens in their own home for decades.  Until a new stadium is built, or the team moves to another city, the A’s will continue to be behind the 8-ball.

The Decade In Baseball – Team Records

The 2010s have drawn to a close and its time to take a look back at the previous decade.  Today, we are starting with baseball, specifically the performance of all 30 MLB teams in games I attended between 2010 and 2019.  Locally, things were good on the north side of town, as the Cubs finished their rebuild with 3 straight NLCS appearances in the middle of the decade, including a World Series championship in 2016.  It was much bleaker on the south side, as the White Sox failed to compete after a late collapse in 2012, finishing the decade on a string of 7 consecutive losing seasons.

I managed to take in 385 games over the past 10 years at 12 different stadiums from coast (Dodger Stadium) to coast (Fenway Park).  2010 was my high water mark, with 52 games, while 2013 and 2018 tied for the lowest total of the decade with only 29 games.

Games Per Year
Year Total Games
2010 52
2011 43
2012 33
2013 29
2014 35
2015 39
2016 39
2017 49
2018 29
2019 37

Two franchises went through the decade undefeated in games I attended, while another 2 teams went winless.  Both local teams finished just a shade under .500.  The White Sox are far and away the team I saw most often, while the Diamondbacks bring up the rear with only 2 appearances over the past 10 years.

2019 Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Colorado Rockies 4 0 1.000
New York Mets 3 0 1.000
Boston Red Sox 9 3 0.750
New York Yankees 9 4 0.692
Washington Nationals 6 3 0.667
Houston Astros 6 3 0.667
Florida Marlins 2 1 0.667
Los Angeles Angels 9 5 0.643
Detroit Tigers 22 13 0.629
Pittsburgh Pirates 5 3 0.625
Kansas City Royals 21 17 0.553
Cleveland Indians 17 14 0.548
Toronto Blue Jays 8 7 0.533
Minnesota Twins 19 17 0.528
Oakland Athletics 7 7 0.500
St. Louis Cardinals 2 2 0.500
San Diego Padres 2 2 0.500
Arizona Diamondbacks 1 1 0.500
Chicago White Sox 159 164 0.492
Chicago Cubs 40 43 0.482
Continue reading →

Fortifying The Staff

After missing out on Zack Wheeler earlier in the offseason, the White Sox looked idly by as the remaining big names vanished off the free agent board: Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Madison Bumgarner.  Last week, however, the struck on their plan B, signing Gio Gonzalez to a one year deal on Friday and coming to terms with Dallas Keuchel on a reported 3 year deal on Saturday.

Keuchel, a 31 year old left hander, sat out the first half of last season, signing after the draft (and the expiration of the draft pick compensation attached to him) and helping the Braves to the NL East title.  He won the AL Cy Young Award in 2015, and should help stabilize the White Sox rotation, both on the mound and as a mentor on the bench.

Gonzalez, 34, enters his third stint in the White Sox organization.  Originally signed as the team’s first round draft pick in 2004, he was part of the deal that brought Jim Thome from the Phillies following the 2005 season.  He was reacquired from the Phillies a year later, along with Gavin Floyd for Freddy Garcia.  He was traded again in 2008 as part of the ill-fated Nick Swisher deal with the A’s.  He will now bolster the back end of the White Sox rotation.

These moves give the White Sox plenty of pitching depth as they go into spring training, allowing Michael Kopech and Carlos Rodon to return from injury on their own timetable and keeping the likes of Dylan Covey and Ross Detwiler far from the pitching mound at Guaranteed Rate Field.

2019 Final Standings

For the second straight year, the Cubs faltered down the stretch and, for the first time since 2014, they failed to make the postseason, thus bringing my game-attending portion of the 2019 season to an end.  I made it to 37 games this season, my highest total since 2016.  I did manage to attend games at 7 different stadiums, my highest single season total and bringing my total up to 25.  Here are the final standings for those games and the 21 different teams I saw in person.

2019 Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
San Francisco Giants 2 0 1.000
Washington Nationals 2 0 1.000
New York Mets 1 0 1.000
Texas Rangers 1 0 1.000
Boston Red Sox 1 0 1.000
Toronto Blue Jays 2 1 0.667
Cleveland Indians 2 1 0.667
Los Angeles Angels 2 1 0.667
Chicago Cubs 6 5 0.545
New York Yankees 1 1 0.500
Oakland Athletics 1 1 0.500
Seattle Mariners 1 1 0.500
Minnesota Twins 1 1 0.500
Chicago White Sox 13 15 0.464
Continue reading →

2019 Predictions Revisited

Six months ago, at the dawn of the 2019 baseball season, I made my annual predictions as to who would win what.  Now that the regular season has come to an end, it is time revisit those predictions and see what, if anything, I got right.

American League

East: Yankees

Well, one for one so far.  This one wasn’t particularly close, as the Yankees won 103 games and won the division by 7 games.

Central: Indians

So much for going perfect.  The Indians saw their run of 3 consecutive division titles come to an end at the hands of the upstart Twins.

West: Astros

The Astros put up the best record in baseball, so this one was pretty much a gimme.

Wild Cards: Red Sox, Angels

No and No.  Right divisions, but the Rays and the A’s took home the Wild Cards.

AL Champion: Astros

This one is looking pretty good.

Cy Young: Justin Verlander

As is this one.  It will likely come down to him or teammate Gerrit Cole.

MVP: George Springer

I think I picked the wrong Astro.

National League

Continue reading →

All Time Team Records

The 2019 baseball season got underway yesterday, with the now early start brought about due to the last collective bargaining agreement.  To celebrate, it is time once again to look at the all-time team records for games that I have identified as having attended dating back to 1984. The Cubs look to avenge last year’s loss in the Wild Card and hope to make it back to the World Series, while the rebuilding White Sox hope to finally start seeing some of their young talent blossom.  The 2019 season should be an exciting one on both sides of town.

All-Time Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
California Angels 1 0 1.000
Arizona Diamondbacks 13 2 0.867
Florida Marlins 15 8 0.652
Colorado Rockies 10 6 0.625
Philadelphia Phillies 10 7 0.588
New York Yankees 14 10 0.583
Boston Red Sox 17 13 0.567
Los Angeles Angels 17 13 0.567
Toronto Blue Jays 13 10 0.565
Cleveland Indians 26 23 0.531
Detroit Tigers 27 24 0.529
Chicago Cubs 213 192 0.526
Houston Astros 22 20 0.524
Chicago White Sox 293 271 0.520
Continue reading →

#5 – Frank Thomas

Name: Frank Thomas

Rank: 5

Position: 1B/DH

Years With White Sox: 1990-2005

Frank Thomas was selected by the White Sox with the seventh pick in the first round of the 1989 draft.  A little more than 1 year later, he made his major league debut on August 2, 1990 against the Brewers at County Stadium, going hitless in 4 at bats with an RBI as the White Sox won 4-3.  The next night, he tripled off of Mark Knudson for his first major league hit.  On August 28, he hit the first home run of his career, off Gary Wayne, in a 12-6 loss against the Twins at the Metrodome.  He finished the year with a .330 average, with 7 home runs and 31 RBIs.

In 1991, as the White Sox moved into the new Comiskey Park, Thomas became one of the most feared hitters in the American League.  On April 22, he hit the first White Sox home run in the new stadium, in an 8-7 victory over the Orioles.  When the season ended, Thomas finished with a .318 average, 32 home runs, and 109 RBIs.  He lead the league in walks, OBP, OPS, and OPS+.  He won his first Silver Slugger award and finished 3rd in MVP voting.

Thomas continued his mastery in 1992.  He ended the year hitting .323, with 24 home runs and 115 RBIs. He led the league in doubles, walks, OBP, and OPS.  Those numbers were good enough for him to place 8th in MVP voting.

In 1993, Thomas helped the White Sox win their first division title since 1983.  He made his first All Star game appearance, getting a hit in his only at bat.  On August 31, he clubbed his 100th career home run against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.  He finished the year batting .317 and set a club-record with 41 homers.  He added 128 RBI, 106 runs scored, and 112 walks, to join Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx and Ted Williams as the only players in baseball history to eclipse .300 with more than 20 homers and more than 100 RBI, runs, and walks in three straight seasons.  In the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Thomas hit .353 in the 6 game series.  Thanks to his historic season, Thomas collected his second Silver Slugger award and all 28 first place votes for a unanimous AL MVP award, the first by a White Sox player since Dick Allen in 1972.

1994 was on track to be even better, before the strike ended the season in August.  Thomas was elected to start the All Star game and got 2 hits in his 2 at bats.  In only 113 games, Thomas had 38 home runs, 101 RBIs, 106 runs scored, and 109 walks.  He led the league in runs scored, walks, OBP, slugging percentage, OPS, and OPS+.  For the second year in a row, he took home the Silver Slugger and MVP awards, becoming just the second first baseman to earn consecutive MVP awards.

When baseball returned in 1995, Thomas picked up where he had left off.  He started his second straight All Star Game for the American League, hitting a home run off John Smiley.  At the end of the season, Thomas had hit .308 with 40 home runs and 111 RBIs while leading the league in games played, walks, sacrifice flies, and intentional walks.  He dropped to 8th place in MVP voting as the White Sox found themselves out of contention for the first time in his career.

The White Sox bounced back in 1996 and Thomas continued to be an offensive force.  He mashed his 200th career home run on June 9, going deep at Camden Yards against the Orioles.  He was named to his fourth straight All Star team, though he didn’t make it into the game.  He set a career high with a .349 average, while again hitting 40 home runs with 134 RBIs.  For the second straight year, he led the league in intentional walks and finished 8th in MVP voting.

1997 was another strong year for Thomas.  He was named to his fifth, and final, All Star team.  He led the league with a .347 average, a .456 OBP, a 1.067 OPS, and an OPS+ of 181, while hitting 35 home runs and knocking in 125.  He finished 3rd in MVP voting, his 7th top 10 finish in his 7 full seasons.

Off the field issues started to show an effect on Thomas’ production in 1998, his first as a full time designated hitter.  Marital problems messed with his head, leading him to think the umpires were screwing him, opposing pitchers were taking advantage of him, and the media were ganging up on him. “I was miserable, and I made everyone around me miserable,” Thomas said early in the 1999 season. “It was an extremely humbling season.”  He hit .265, 65 points lower than his career average entering the season, and finished with only 29 home runs, his lowest total in six years.  He started referring to himself as Five O’clock Frank, a batting-practice terror who at game time sank under the weight of self-pity and tired excuses.

Thomas, and the White Sox, hoped that he would bounce back in 1999.  “I think he had a lot on his mind, personal things that were weighing on him,” hitting coach Von Joshua said early in the season. “He didn’t talk about it, but you could just see it in his eyes. He’s a lot more settled this year.”  Unfortunately, things didn’t go well, though he did hit his 300th career home run on August 7 against the A’s.  While his average did rebound, back up to .305, he hit only 15 home runs and drove in just 77 while setting a career low with a .471 slugging percentage.  Bone spurs on his ankle limited him to just 135 games.

2000 got off to an explosive start, and not the good kind.  Thomas and manager Jerry Manuel went toe to toe in spring training over Thomas’ ability to participate in drills, following his surgery the previous September.  Once the regular season began, though, it looked like the old Thomas was back.  As the surprising White Sox ran off and won their first division title since 1993, Thomas, missing only 3 games all year, hit .328 and set career highs with 43 home runs and 143 RBIs.  Unfortunately, Thomas, like the rest of his teammates, struggled in the post-season, going hitless in the ALDS as the Mariners completed a 3 game sweep.  He won his fourth, and final, Silver Slugger award and finished 2nd in MVP voting, behind a juiced Jason Giambi.

2001 was a tough year for Thomas, both personally and professionally.  On April 27, he hurt his triceps diving for a ball while playing first base.  After spending 5 days back in Georgia due to the death of his father, Thomas returned to Chicago for tests, which revealed a muscle tear that would require surgery and end his season.  “This is the worst week of my life”, he said during a press conference. “First I lose my father, then come back and find out I’m lost for the season.”  In only 20 games, Thomas hit .221 with 4 home runs and 10 RBIs.

Thomas returned in 2002, but was obviously no longer the same player he was before the injury.  He struggled in the first half, before picking things up in the final month of the season, hitting .359 with 6 home runs in September.  He finished the season with a .252 average, 25 home runs and 92 RBIs.

2003 was a better year for Thomas, though still below his career norms.  On June 26th, he became the 36th player in history to reach the 400 career home run mark with a 5th inning shot against the Devil Rays at US Cellular Field.  At the end of the year, he had posted a .267 average with 42 home runs and 105 RBIs.

Injuries robbed Thomas of most of 2004.  He was placed on the disabled list on July 7th, with a .271 average, 18 home runs and 49 RBIs.  He underwent surgery in early October to remove debris from the ankle, perform a bone graft, and insert two screws.

Thomas began the 2005 season on the disabled list as he recovered from his ankle surgery.  He was activated on May 30, with the White Sox in first place in the AL Central.  On July 18, he clubbed his 448th and final home run with the White Sox against the Tigers at US Cellular Field.  He hit .219 with 12 home runs and 26 RBIs in 34 games before breaking his foot on July 21, causing him to miss the rest of the season and the post-season.  Thomas threw out the first pitch prior to game one of the ALDS against the Red Sox.

Thomas is the White Sox all time leader in home runs, runs scored, doubles, RBIs, walks, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS.  He is the only player in major league history to have seven consecutive seasons (1991-1997) with a .300 average and at least 100 walks, 100 runs, 100 runs batted in, and 20 home runs.  His number 35 was retired by the White Sox on August 29, 2010 and he was part of the 2014 Hall of Fame class, elected on the first ballot with 83.7% of the vote.

Thomas’s numbers in a White Sox uniform, both for games I attended and overall, were: Continue reading →

#6 – Carlton Fisk

Name: Carlton Fisk

Rank: 6

Position: C

Years With White Sox: 1981-1993

Carlton Fisk became a free agent after the Red Sox failed to tender him a contract for the 1981 season in the proper time frame, and thus he signed with the White Sox on March 18, 1981.  He paid immediate dividends for his new team, hitting a 3-run home run in the 8th inning against his former team at Fenway Park on Opening Day, leading the White Sox to a 5-3 victory.  Following the strike, he started the All Star game for the AL, going 1-3 with a run scored.  He finished the year with a .263 average and only 7 home runs in 96 games.  His efforts earned him his first Silver Slugger award.

Fisk enjoyed another successful year in 1982.  For the third straight year, he started behind the plate for the AL in the All Star game.  In 135 games, he hit .267 with 14 home runs and 65 RBIs.

1983 was a magical season on the South Side, as the White Sox won their first division title.  Fisk played a big role in the team’s success, both in managing a pitching staff that featured 2 of the top 4 finishers in Cy Young Award voting and at the plate, where he hit .289 with 26 home runs and 86 RBIs.  In the ALCS against the Orioles, Fisk struggled, just like the rest of his teammates, though he did launch 2 home runs in the 4 game series.  His season was good enough to earn 3rd place in the MVP vote, coming in behind Cal Ripken and Eddie Murray.

With expectations high, 1984 turned out to be a tough year, for both Fisk and the White Sox, though there were a few high points.  On May 9, he caught all 25 innings of a 7-6 win over the Brewers, breaking the major league record of 24 innings shared by 5 players.  A little over a week later, on May 16 against the Royals, Fisk became just the third player in White Sox history to hit for the cycle.  Unfortunately, injuries befell Fisk, limiting him to just 102 games, finishing with a .231 average and only 43 RBIs.  The bright side, though, is that it led him to begin a new training regimen, which he used for the rest of his long career.

The regimen paid immediate dividends, as Fisk put up the best numbers of his career in 1985.  At the age of 37, Fisk set career highs with 37 home runs, tying Dick Allen for the White Sox single-season record, and 107 RBIs, while tying his career high with 17 stolen bases.  He was voted to his 10th All-Star team, won his second Silver Slugger award and finished 13th in the AL MVP voting.

1986 was a strange year for Fisk and the White Sox.  New General Manager Ken Harrelson thought Joel Skinner was ready to take over behind the plate and, with Fisk about to enter his age 38 season, he convinced manager Tony LaRussa to move Fisk to left field.  On May 9, with Skinner hitting in the .150s and LaRussa’s job on the line, Fisk was moved back behind the plate and the White Sox proceeded to win 10 of their next 13 games.  By the end of the year, Skinner, Harrelson, and LaRussa were all gone, and Fisk remained, putting up a .221 average with 14 home runs and 63 RBIs.

In 1987, with a new management regime in place, Fisk was back behind the plate full time.  He appeared in 135 games at age 39, hitting .256 with 23 home runs and 71 RBIs.

1988 looked to be a good year for Fisk, until a broken hand limited him to just 76 games.  Despite that, his .277 average, 19 home runs, and 50 RBIs earned him his 3rd Silver Slugger award.

At age 41, Fisk, along with pitcher Jerry Reuss, who was 39, set a record starting the 1989 season, becoming the oldest battery ever to start on opening day, surpassing pitcher Johnny Niggeling and catcher Rick Ferrell of the 1944 Washington Senators, as the White Sox beat the Angels 9-2.  Splitting time behind the plate with Ron Karkovice, Fisk appeared in 103 games, hitting .293 with 13 home runs and 68 RBIs.

In 1990, Fisk was the elder statesman on a young White Sox team that unexpectedly challenged the A’s for the division title.  On May 22, at Yankee Stadium, Fisk had a run in with two-sport star Deion Sanders.  When Sanders drew a dollar sign in the dirt before a pitch, then didn’t run out an easy out, Fisk and Sanders went back and forth, sharing expletives.  Later in the game, Sanders told Fisk that “the days of slavery are over,” infuriating Fisk.  “He comes up and wants to make it a racial issue — there’s no racial issue involved.”  During Sanders’ next at-bat, Fisk told him, “There is a right way and a wrong way to play this game. You’re playing it the wrong way. And the rest of us don’t like it. Someday, you’re going to get this game shoved right down your throat.”  Later that year, on August 17, Fisk hit his 328th home run as a catcher, breaking Johnny Bench’s career record.  As the team closed out Comiskey Park, Fisk finished the year with a .285 average, 18 home runs, and 65 RBIs, which earned him 15th place in MVP voting.

As the White Sox moved across the street to the new Comiskey Park in 1991, Fisk, at age 43, put together his last season as an everyday catcher.  He was named to his 11th, and final, All Star team, becoming the oldest player in MLB history to collect a hit in the mid-summer classic.  He finished the year having appeared in 134 games, hitting .241 with 18 home runs and 74 RBIs.

With Ron Karkovice taking over the majority of the work behind the plate, Fisk moved into a backup role in 1992.  He appeared in just 62 games, his lowest total since 1974, and hit only .229 with 3 home runs.

1993 looked to be the end of the road for Fisk, though not by his choice.  On June 22, at Comiskey Park, Fisk broke Bob Boone’s record for career games caught with his 2,226th game behind the plate.  Six days later, Fisk was abruptly released by the White Sox.  Fisk was notified of his dismissal in his hotel room in Cleveland, and was ordered to turn in his equipment and fly back to Chicago immediately and alone.  To add insult to injury, Fisk, along with former teammate Donn Pall, came to Comiskey Park before game 1 of the ALCS to wish their former teammates well.  Sadly, they were both turned away, souring Fisk’s relationship with the organization for years.  His career ended with a .189 average in only 25 games, getting a mere 53 at bats.

At the conclusion of this career, he was the all time leader in games caught and home runs for catchers, the all time leader in home runs for the White Sox, the leader in home runs hit after age 40, and the most seasons played as a catcher.  His number 72 was retired by the White Sox on September 14, 1997, and he was part of the 2000 Hall of Fame class.

Fisk’s numbers in a White Sox uniform, both for games I attended and overall, were:

Continue reading →