Signed: 1979 by the Seattle Mariners
Debut: August 10, 1984
Acquired by Sox: Traded by Seattle to Chicago as the player to be named later for Scott Bradley on July 1, 1986.
Reacquired by Sox: Signed as Free Agent August 31, 1993.
After being acquired by G.M. Hawk Harrelson in 1986, Calderon only played in 13 games. In 1987, however, he would make an impact. Harold Baines put away the glove that year as he started his stretch of 15 years as a DH, leaving the Sox with an opening in right field. Calderon stepped right in and brought some life to an otherwise stale franchise as he hit .293/.362/.526 with 38 doubles, 28 homers, 83 RBI and 10 SBs. It wasn't only his statistics that made him a fan favorite though, it was also his look. The upper buttons on Calderon's jersey were always worn open, exposing gold chains that would make Mr. T jealous. It was also nice to get some offense from someone other than the old veterans Baines, Carlton Fisk and Greg Walker.
Unfortunately, Calderon suffered a shoulder injury in 1988, which required season ending surgery. Calderon never found the same home run stroke that he had in '87, but when he returned in 1989 he was still very productive with the bat.
Calderon led the club with 14 home runs and 87 RBI's that season. He also had 34 doubles and 9 triples for the 69-92 White Sox. 1989 was a terrible year for the Sox. Fisk was now 41 years old, Greg Walker suffered a seizure during 1988 and was not the same player afterwards, and longtime favorite and '89 All Star representative Harold Baines was traded to Texas.
The White Sox were picked to finish last by almost everybody at the start of 1990, but shocked everyone with a great season. They won 94 games that year, and Calderon was a big part of it. He hit .273/.327/.422 with 14 home runs, 44 doubles and 32 stolen bases. Ivan was a big dude at 220 lbs so 32 SBs was quite the feat for a guy who never previously topped 10. He also made one of the greatest plays I've ever seen, where he jumped onto the ledge of the fence and robbed a home run. The only video I have seen of the play aired during the long promo's before MLB Network officially went on the air. This photo of Al Kaline is the closest thing I can find of it.
Calderon wouldn't move to the New Comiskey Park with the Sox, however, as he was dealt to the Expos with Barry Jones for Tim Raines. Calderon had a great 1991 for the Expos as he hit .300/.368/.481 with 19 homers, 75 RBI's and 31 Stolen Bases in his only All-Star season. The injury bug hit Calderon again in 1992 as he only played in 48 games. He was then dealt to the Red Sox for the 1993 campaign, where he received his release in August after hitting .221. He was picked up by the White Sox for the playoff push at the end of '93, but only appeared in 9 games, going 3-26. Ironically, it was one of those hits that I remember fondly. On September 14, Calderon was in the lineup vs. the Royals. He came through with the final 2 hits of his career, both doubles. The last one came with the bases loaded and the score tied 3-3 in the 7th. Calderon cleared the bases as the Sox moved to 3.5 games up. The team never fell below 3.5 games the rest of the season.
Unfortunately, Calderon was gunned down in Puerto Rico on December 27, 2003, execution style. Its unfortunate he never made it to a Soxfest or anything like that as I am sure he would have had a lot of fans my age waiting in line to meet him.
Calderon's career totals were .272/.333/.442 with 104 home runs, 444 RBI, 97 SBs and 200 doubles. It doesn't look like much now, but if you watched the Sox during an the era he played, you were very appreciative of those numbers.