The Chicago White Sox stood pat on the trade deadline, trusting that the current roster can take it home. Well, after the series in Minneapolis, that might have been a mistake as the bullpen appears to be taxed as the club makes their way for a four-game series in Kansas City.
Josh and Jim recap the lack of activity at the trade deadline, the Twins series, and preview the upcoming series at Kansas City. They also remember Tom Seaver’s years with the White Sox after news of his passing at the age of 75.
Chiming in late as I just listened to this episode. Back in the 70s, Tom Seaver was The Guy on the mound. Aspirational kids imitated his pitching motion and realized that his legs must be immensely strong to drive like that pitch after pitch. Your mom’s annoyance at the dirt on your knee paled in comparison to the soreness in your butt from throwing like that.
Aside from his stamina, what was amazing was how precise he was. JR Richard or Nolan Ryan might throw a little harder, but Seaver’s fastball ranked with the best in the game AND he had Madduxian command.
Even with the Reds in his mid-30s, he appeared to have no weaknesses, throwing a no-hitter the year after the trade and having a stunningly dominant 1981. If not for Fernandomania, he would have won his fourth Cy Young that year.
The next year, he was bad. So bad, the Reds sent him back to the Mets for what looked like the long goodbye. Turns out 1982 was just a blip. Seaver was an effective pitcher in 1983. Not the dominant force of 1981, but solid enough that when Roland Hemond drafted him I was pretty damned excited to have him join Hoyt, Dotson, Bannister, and Burns in the Sox rotation. (Erstwhile Seaver teammate Jerry Koosman got shipped off to Philadelphia for Ron Reed that offseason and was incensed that he wouldn’t have the opportunity to pitch with Seaver again.)
The 84 and 85 Sox were disappointing in many respects. Ron Kittle’s flaws were exposed, but what really hurt was the decline of the pitching staff. Had you told me in March of 1984 that Seaver would be the most effective pitcher on the team the next two years, I would not have believed you. Hoyt and Dotson looked like a dominant tandem at the top of the rotation. But Hoyt came into 1984 heavier (and, we’d later learn, had developed a drig problem.) and I confess I was slightly relieved when he was traded for Guillen the next winter. Dotson hurt his shoulder.
Seaver, though, just kept chugging along. It was surreal to see Mets icon Seaver pitching to Boston icon Fisk in 1985 like they were in their late 20s. These guys already had established their Hall of Fame credentials and were treated like Cooperstown inductees by national sportswriters. Having them as the Sox battery seemed unthinkable five years earlier when Ken Kravec was throwing to Bruce Kimm. Of course Fisk would be the guy to embrace Seaver at the end of the pitcher’s 300th win.
My favorite memory of Seaver in a Sox uniform came during the mostly disappointing 1984 season. The doubleheader caused by the 25-inning curfew-interrupted game ultimately ended by a prototypical Harold Baines GWRBI (yes, that was a statistic kept in the 80s) was the apex of this Hall of Fame battery’s enduring effectiveness. First, Fisk caught all 25 innings of the first game. (Marc Hill started the second game, but Fisk pinch-ran for him and took over behind the plate late in the game.) Seaver picked up the win in the first game and won the second game after pitching into the ninth.
Seaver and Fisk seemed like baseball immortals, defying age in that doubleheader to perform feats men a decade younger could not. It was a thrill to watch certain Hall of Famers play well for the home team in Comiskey Park. It felt like having Walter Johnson pitching to Yogi Berra for my team.