If he picks up the Rookie of the Year award (and at this point that seems almost inevitable), Gordon Beckham will become the sixth White Sox player to earn the nod, joining the likes of Ozzie Guillen, Ron Kittle and . . . um, who, exactly? In the spirit of history, Mouthpiece presents a look at South Side freshmen past — and a possible glimpse into Bacon Spice’s future.
Ozzie Guillen, SS, 1985
In 150 games, Guillen posted a solid .273 average to bolster an abysmal .291 OPS. His lone home run and 33 RBI weren’t much to write home about either, but everyone knew Guillen’s glove was what won it for him. Guillen would go on to play 16 seasons between the South Side, Atlanta, Baltimore and Tampa Bay before eventually becoming one of the premier managers in the sport. But you knew that.
Ron Kittle, OF/DH, 1983
Thirty-five home runs in 145 games meant only one thing: DON’T MESS WITH THE KITTLE. Unfortunately, injuries hampered Kittle’s abilities, and his numbers dropped off considerably and in a hurry. Kittle had stints with the Yankees, Indians and Orioles before coming home in 1991, playing his final game on August 13, 1991. Kittle went 1-for-5 that day; his final major league hit was a two-run homer off of Tigers reliever Mike Henneman, a shot now immortalized on Henneman’s Baseball-Reference page. Henneman’s whereabouts are unknown; Kittle wrote a book, found out Barry Bonds is a huge racist and checks in on his blog every now and then.
Tommie Agee, CF, 1966
After minor flirtations with the big time while still in Cleveland, Agee finally broke through in 1966 with a .273/.326/.447 line, 22 homers and 86 driven in, with a bonus 98 runs on top and 44(!) stolen bases to boot. Boasting a legitimate trifecta of power, speed and defense, Agee won not just Rookie of the Year honors but also a Gold Glove, All-Star nod and an eighth-place finish in MVP voting. A struggling Agee was traded to the Mets following the 1967 season, and saw a mighty resurgence for four seasons before slumping (this time permanently) from 1972 until his retirement following a release by the Dodgers in early 1974.
Gary Peters, LHP, 1963
Like the Karko/Ozzie tandem, Peters and Agee rose to their respective greatness within mere years of each other. Peters went an outstanding 19-8 for the ’63 Sox, posting a 2.33 ERA, 1.070 WHIP and 189 strikeouts in 243 innings pitched. As an added bonus, Peters’ .259/.287/.444 rookie season batting line was almost better than Guillen’s award-winning output 22 years later. Peters assembled a fine career for himself, leading the AL in ERA in 1963 and again in 1966 (1.98), the latter coupled with a .982 WHIP. The Sox traded Peters and Don Pavletich to the Red Sox for shortstop Syd O’Brien and (eventually) pitcher Jerry Janeski, where Peters finished his career with a 124-103 record, 3.25 ERA, 1.249 WHIP, and 1,420 strikeouts in 2,081 innings pitched.
Luis Aparicio, SS, 1956
If you don’t know everything about this man, you don’t know anything about White Sox baseball. Only three rookies received any consideration that year, one of whom had a son who now manages a highly-paid band of mercenaries based in Boston. Until this past Sunday, Aparicio held the all-time record for career hits by a shortstop, a record most seem to feel White Sox SS-to-be Gordon Beckham will inevitably recapture for the greater good and return to its rightful place on the South Side of Chicago.