1983 Chicago White Sox
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Managed by Tony LaRussa
History, Comments, Contributions
After finishing in third place in the American League West in 1982, the 1983 Chicago White Sox entered the season with moderate expectations. In the offseason, they had lost outfielder Steve Kemp to free agency but had picked up free agent pitcher Floyd Bannister. Their big winter trade sent pitcher Steve Trout across town to the Chicago Cubs for shortstop Scott Fletcher, reliever Dick Tidrow, and utility man Pat Tabler (who was in turn traded to the Cleveland Indians for shortstop Jerry Dybzinski). In addition, the club added two rookies, outfielder Ron Kittle and first baseman Greg Walker, who were expected to make an impact with the team in 1983.
The Sox began the season by losing their first three games, and by late May, they were eight games below .500. Fans were demanding the firing of manager Tony LaRussa. But the White Sox went on a tear in June, winning 18 of 28 games, and by the All-Star break, they were in third place, just 3 1/2 games behind the Texas Rangers. The club played even better in the second half, going 44-15 in August and September. They finished with a 99-63 record and ended the season an unprecedented 20 games ahead of the second-place Kansas City Royals. Because the team was not based on fundamentals and lacked front-line stars, except for senior citizens Fisk and Luzinski, the slogan "Winnin' Ugly" became attached to them and is used to this day to refer to this edition of the team. It was the team's only first-place finish between their appearance in the 1959 World Series and their division title a decade later, in 1993.
Kittle led the team with 35 home runs and was named Rookie of the Year. Designated hitter Greg Luzinski slugged 32 homers, and catcher Carlton Fisk added 26 more. Speedy outfielder Rudy Law stole 77 bases and scored 95 runs. Second baseman Julio Cruz was acquired from the Seattle Mariners in mid-season to provide added speed to the lineup. The home run surge was not entirely fortuitous: LaRussa had noticed the previous year that the large dimensions of Comiskey Park were hurting his team more than his opponents, and with the the help of intern Dan Evans, who did some rough modeling on his Apple personal computer, convinced the top brass to move home plate closer to the field for the 1983 season, which did indeed reward the White Sox's hitter more than their opponents. Home plate and the infield were moved because it would have been impossible to move the fences without significantly hindering the ballpark experience of the fans sitting in the outfield bleachers.
The pitching staff was led by Cy Young Award winner LaMarr Hoyt, who went 24-10 and won 13 straight to end the season. Richard Dotson added 22 victories, and Bannister won 16, including 13 of his last 14 decisions. Manager LaRussa, who months earlier was fighting to keep his job, was named American League Manager of the Year.
The White Sox made it to the postseason for the first time since 1959. They beat the Baltimore Orioles in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series behind Hoyt, but then lost the next two. In Game 4, Britt Burns pitched nine innings of shutout ball, before giving up a run to the Orioles in the 10th inning on a homer by back-up outfielder Tito Landrum to lose the game and the series.
Awards and Honors
- All-Stars: Ron Kittle
- AL Cy Young Award: LaMarr Hoyt
- AL Rookie of the Year Award: Ron Kittle
- Topps All-Star Rookie Team: Ron Kittle (OF)
- AL Manager of the Year Award: Tony LaRussa
1983 Opening Day Lineup
Rudy Law, cf
Tony Bernazard, 2b
Harold Baines, rf
Greg Luzinski, dh
Greg Walker, 1b
Tom Paciorek, lf
Carlton Fisk, c
Vance Law, 3b
Scott Fletcher, ss
La Marr Hoyt, p
- Anthony Castrovince: "This team moved home plate ... to hit HRs and win more games", mlb.com, September 27, 2021.