Robin Ventura’s absence noticeable during 1993 White Sox reunion

Baggage accrued as manager shouldn't overshadow his contributions as a player

Between the wet weather and the shutout at the hands of the Royals, Saturday’s reunion of the 1993 White Sox felt a touch muted.

It deserved better conditions, because that team helped hook a a generation. At least if my example isn’t an outlier, anyway.

The 1993 team was what pulled me to the White Sox for good. Before then, I was more of an Oakland fan, just because they had the guys who were fun to imitate in the backyard — the Bash Brothers, Rickey Henderson, Dave Stewart, Dennis Eckersley, etc. I also rooted for the White Sox because it was the family thing, but those A’s teams captured my imagination in the way the Sox didn’t. The 1993 team hooked me into the White Sox for good, as they gave Hawk Harrelson a ton of homer fodder (and I mean that as a selling point).

We’d seen plenty of Frank Thomas, Ozzie Guillen and Bo Jackson over the years. Tim Raines and Joey Cora coached in the recent past. The reunions are cool for seeing guys like Lance Johnson, Craig Grebeck and Warren Newson, as well as coaches well-regarded (Walt Hriniak), and those with maybe a more negative association (Terry Bevington).

There were a few notable omissions, including four of the top 10 1993 White Sox according to bWAR.

  1. Frank Thomas, 6.2
  2. Lance Johnson, 6.1
  3. Alex Fernandez, 5.4
  4. Robin Ventura, 5.3
  5. Jack McDowell, 4.4
  6. Tim Raines, 3.8
  7. Ron Karkovice, 3.2
  8. Ellis Burks, 2.9
  9. Jason Bere, 2.6
  10. Roberto Hernandez, 2.6

Fernandez was overshadowed by McDowell during his time with the Sox, but he was every bit the workhorse. Karkovice was Not Carlton Fisk, but he peaked at the right time. Burks was part of a productive revolving door in right field. I imagine when trying to get everybody into one place on one date across the country, it’s just a fact that some guys are not going to be able to attend.

Ventura’s omission stood out the most, because in terms of White Sox history, he was just here. Plus, Barry Jones was there, and it wasn’t right for his partner in menswear advertising to abandon him:

The Sox said that Ventura had a trip planned with his son, which might be true. It seems just as likely that Ventura decided the weekend of July 14 would be perfect for a trip after the Sox informed him of the reunion, because I can’t imagine he’d have much interest in answering the questions he’d be sure to receive. During his farewell press conference, my lingering thought was, “He’s not going to be at SoxFest for quite some time.”

Which is a shame. Ventura failed as a manager, but it’s not his fault the Sox set him up to fail. I don’t blame him for taking the challenge, and I don’t blame him for not giving up despite the mountain of evidence begging for a change of command. The front office botched it all around.

I don’t think he would’ve been booed had he attended, since 1993 capacities seemed to be front and center. During Saturday’s broadcast, Guillen made no effort to talk around Bevington being a terrible manager, but he praised his work on a coach on Gene Lamont’s staff. That’s the spirit of the whole party.

I’m hoping Ventura’s playing career will return to the center of his White Sox existence in the near future, because he’s one of the best players to suit up on the South Side, and an especially vital figure in the New Comiskey Era. His presence shouldn’t be controversial at any point.

I suppose that’s one benefit of rebuilding. Ideally, this process should produce such a strong system that even Ventura could’ve taken them to the postseason multiple times (see the recently fired Mike Matheny). The team that is supposed to result from the overhaul won’t have any real connection to the Ventura era, and will hopefully generate enough goodwill that dwelling on the mistakes of the previous decade would be pointless.

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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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Who’s the portly fellow in the middle wearing #50? It ain’t Barry Jones.


Thanks. And thanks for that Manny’s link. funny then. funny now.

Josh Nelson

Adding Wilson Alvarez (5.0 bWAR), and the 1993 White Sox had 11 players worth 2.5 bWAR or higher!

The 2018 White Sox might have three 2.5+ bWAR players.

Greg Nix

Speaking as a less than tall person, it’s kind of cruel to make Newson and Grebeck stand next to McDowell. 

Speaking of, McDowell and Bere were both great in the booth on Friday. I could see either making a solid broadcaster. 

Fun reunion overall. It was also the team that hooked me. Well, that and ‘94… I find talk about either team much more interesting than the constant reliving of 1983.

lil jimmy

Also good, 90,91,92. it was a great run. End of the old park, opening of the new park. So much quality talent.

Lurker Laura

I loved the early 90s teams. I hope Robin can come back again soon. He was one of my favorite players back then. 


Grebeck should always stand next to Frank Thomas.

That was a fun season. A WSCR contest got me tickets to opening day, so I played hooky from work. Bo Jackson’s first HR with his artificial hip landed four rows in front of me. 


Well put. Robin deserves to have his managerial reign blotted from the memory of every Sox fan. It sucked, but it wasn’t his fault.

Greg Nix

Let’s not completely absolve him of responsibility. 


There was a lot of it that was his fault. 

Trooper Galactus

Sorry, but a complete inability/unwillingness to learn on the job and a total failure to control the clubhouse was absolutely on him. I wouldn’t boo the guy, but he doesn’t exactly get a pass with me just because the front office didn’t fire him a year sooner.


I wasn’t surprised at Ventura’s absence at all. And despite a smattering of Instagram posts about what a great time he had, Ozzie Guillen promptly removed his uniform, gave it to a handler and then exited through the clubhouse after hugging half a dozen Royals.


Considering how he burned his bridges in 2011 he is lucky to be allowed in the Sox clubhouse at all.


I believe Jim and I are around the same age. Likewise this was the team that got me hooked. My first game was the 1993 clincher, having won tickets some weeks prior on the WMAQ Sports Huddle (I believe they were giving away tickets constantly, up to six at a time, to whomever got through on their ticket line).