Review: White Sox Memories: The Greatest Moments in White Sox History

When watching a DVD called White Sox Memories: The Greatest Moments in White Sox History, maybe disappointment is inevitable.  “Greatest” is right there in the title, isn’t it?
It doesn’t help that it gets off to a sluggish start.  It spends more than a minute talking about Barack Obama’s fandom, which I don’t think is particularly smart because, well, he’s a politician. Not only is he a politician, but he’s a politican who is just beginning to build a legacy. There’s a non-zero chance he could turn out to be Herbert Hoover, in other words. The Cubs didn’t shy away from associating with Rod Blagojevich, and look where that got them.
And speaking of the Cubs,it spends the next 3 1/2 minutes talking about the difference between White Sox and Cubs fans.  Yawn.
There’s a reason I’m mentioning the runtimes of these particular segments.  Why is that?  Because it spends approximately four seconds talking about the 1960s.  Here’s the transcript:

“The White Sox could not capitalize on the momentum created by the Go-Go Sox — a trend that would continue throughout the sixties (footage of White Sox player getting caught in a rundown). Despite the play of Aparicio and others, by 1970, the team’s fortunes had become almost… comical.”

Maybe I’m alone, but the 1960s Sox intrigue me more than any other segment of White Sox history. They won 90 games in three straight seasons from 1964 to 1966, a feat unparalleled in franchise history, and yet they’re rarely mentioned.
I thought this was going to cover it. Richard Roeper, who made the 1966 White Sox a central part of his book, was all over this DVD. Alas, there was not one mention of the fearsome pitching staffs featuring Juan Pizarro, Joel Horlen or Gary Peters. I don’t believe I’ve seen any of them throw a pitch. After watching this DVD, I still haven’t.
Perhaps I wouldn’t have been so disappointed by this development had this documentary not done such a terrific job setting the scene for other parts of White Sox history.  It does just about everything you can expect with the first two decades of franchise history and the build-up to the Black Sox Scandal. Same goes with Bill Veeck’s first purchase of the team and the construction of the Go-Go Sox, and the signing of Carlton Fisk through the Winning Ugly Sox.
It even handled the terrible, godawful teams of the 1930s and 1940s with far more care — mainly because of the presence of Luke Appling.  It’s worth it for the awesome footage of Old Aches and Pains, but the attention paid to those lowly squads makes skipping the sixties a bigger headscratcher.
The omission of an entire decade becomes a little more awkward when considering how much airtime they give to a guy I regarded merely as a curiosity.
Evidently, the White Sox — or the DVD’s director — think Bo Jackson was far more important to the history of the franchise than I do.
Seriously, the narrator bellows this sentence in the documentary’s introduction:

“They’ve featured some of the game’s most iconic players. Men like the Big Hurt… Bo Jackson…”

Bo Jackson? Seriously? That is the second player that comes to mind?
I guess so, because when it gets to the 1990s, the title of the chapter:

Bo Knows
(Batman and Robin)

Maybe it’s because I was 10 years old, but here’s how I remember Jackson’s career:

  1. Awesome! Bo Jackson’s on the Sox!
  2. Looks like he’s not the same anymore, but this is still pretty cool.
  3. Well, it was worth a shot.

Maybe it was more important than I thought, because Jackson’s brief White Sox career gets two whole minutes worth of coverage.
If this were Royals Memories: The Greatest Moments In Kansas City Royals History, it would make far more sense. To me, though, it’s mindboggling to spend that much time on a player who, over his two partial seasons, was roughly the offensive equivalent of Juan Uribe (.231/.298/.428, 19 HR, 58 RBI).
And only after it’s done telling Jackson’s story does it finally get to talking about the greatest player in White Sox history.  Ask 100 White Sox fans to recap the 1990s, and 100 fans will start with Frank Thomas.  Not this DVD.
It’s entirely possible I’m being a little too hard on this documentary, which has only about 110 minutes to summarize 108 years. That’s what makes the great parts all the more remarkable. Books have been written about the Black Sox and the 1919 World Series, but it’s able to describe the rise and fall of Charles Comiskey’s ownership fairly comprehensively in spite of the challenges.
Nevertheless, it’s worth a watch, if only because there isn’t a whole lot of competition. There aren’t many ways to see footage of guys like Appling, Eddie Cicotte and Billy Pierce.  There may be more avenues to find film of vintage Thomas, but the DVD doesn’t sell him short (one of the special features focuses solely on him).
A couple other extras make this an easier purchase, too.  One of them includes the final outs for the last three White Sox no-hitters. Another captures all the clinchers from 1993 to the present. The others aren’t as noteworthy, but that’s why they’re not included in the main feature, right?
So maybe White Sox Memories: The Greatest Moments in White Sox History could be better, and maybe eventually I’ll get my 1960s footage somehow. But until that day comes, I suppose this DVD tells the story of the Sox well enough.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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John

Here’s my most vivid memory of the Bo Jackson era at 11 years old: Game 5 of the ALCS, Ventura hits a two run homer to make it a two run game in the ninth. Ellis Burks gets hit by a pitch bringing up Jackson as the tying run.
I can’t remember Toronto’s closer and I’m too lazy to look it up, but I distinctly remember my dad saying, “Here comes three straight curveballs” and sure enough, there were 3 curveballs in a row with each one bouncing farther away from the plate than the previous pitch. Bo was brutal in that LCS.

815Sox

I remember being so exicted that Bo was going to be playing for the Sox. I think this was also when he, Gretzky and Jordan had the cartoon show “ProStars” going.

soxmachine

I was a Bo fan from Tecmo Bowl. I also had a card saying “If they build it…” with a photo of New Comiskey, and “…he will come” next to a picture of him.
But it was weird. It’s like they imagined his Sox career being super awesome, and then proceeded as if that were the case.

footsoldiers galore

Good stuff, Jim. Yep, after the DVD you haven’t seen Pizarro, Horlen, Peters et al, but you do get a glimpse of Dan Spillner hitting the old Comiskey dugout in ’85 while the DVD talks about the ’83 Sox. Not good times.

soxmachine

Ooh, good eye. I didn’t put two and two together, there.

footsoldiers galore

I believe they also said we lost the Bal’mer series 4 games to one in ’83. Booo!!!!

Carl

I just read Roeper’s book. You are right. As he was reliving the 60’s, and running through some of the pitching stats (Horlen, in particular), I couldn’t believe how little I knew about the 60’s Sox.