What do Paul Konerko and Luis Aparicio have in common? They are both part of the small fraternity of White Sox players to actually participate in a World Series. Eventually, Konerko's 14 will join Little Looie's 11 on the list of White Sox retired numbers.
But the correct answer is that they are both the last players of their era.
Aparicio was part of the "Go Go Sox," an era that started in the early 1950s and culminated in a World Series appearance in 1959 before crashing for good in 1970. Paul Konerko was part of the "Win or Die Trying" White Sox era that started in 2003 and culminated in a World Series championship in 2005 before crashing for good in 2013.
Rick Hahn's job is to start the next era in White Sox history.
That was the job facing Roland Hemond when he was hired by the White Sox as director of player personnel on Sept. 4, 1970. On that day, the White Sox were 49-90, well on their way to a franchise-worst record of 56-106. Hemond was hired as part of a major management shakeup designed to save the sputtering franchise. Owner John Allyn fired general manager Ed Short, and replaced him with Stu Holcomb, who up to that point had been the Sox's public relations director.
Holcomb was not a baseball guy. He was a college football coach, with stints at Miami of Ohio and Purdue. Later he was athletic director at Northwestern before joining the Allyn organization in 1967 as the general manager of the Chicago Mustangs soccer team. When the Mustangs folded at the end of 1968, Holcomb found himself at Comiskey Park.
Holcomb needed to rebuild, and his architects were way out west - in the California Angels organization. Hemond was the 40-year-old scouting director for the Angels. Chuck Tanner was the 41-year-old manager of the Hawaii Islanders, a PCL team that was loaded with Angels prospects.
Bill Melton was thrilled with the new arrangement, telling the Chicago Tribune there was a "generation gap" between the front office and the players.
"They were trying to introduce a youth movement with 80-year-old men," a perceived swipe at previous manager Don Gutteridge, and a coaching staff full of holdovers from Al Lopez.
The Trib also speculated that Melton was trying to sweet-talk the new management into returning him to third base. Melton had been in right field since June.
Hemond's first deal came in October, when he sent utilitymen Gail Hopkins and John Matias to the Kansas City Royals for outfielder Pat Kelly and pitcher Don O'Riley.
For Hemond, the Trade Mart opened on Nov. 30, 1970, when he sent outfielder Ken Berry, infielder Syd O'Brien, and pitcher Billy Wynne to the Angels for pitcher Tom Bradley, catcher Tom Egan, and outfielder Jay Johnstone.
Aparico was gone the next day, traded to the Red Sox for infielders Luis Alvorado and Mike Andrews.
In February of 1971, Hemond traded pitcher Gerry Janeski to the Senators for outfielder Rick Reichardt.
Within the course of a couple of months, Hemond had rebuilt the White Sox from top to bottom. Bill Melton, Carlos May, and catcher Ed Herrmann were the only holdover position players from 1970.
Melton was moved back to third base. May went from left field to first base. Alvorado replaced Aparicio at shortstop, and Andrews took over Bobby Knoop at second base.
The outfield makeover was just as complete. Kelly, Johnstone and Reichardt took the place of May, Ken Berry, and Walt "No Neck" Williams. Bradley joined a four-man pitching staff that included Wilbur Wood, Tommy John, and Joe Horlen.
The makeover was almost complete. The roster had a new look, and so did the players. They would wear new uniforms in 1971. The blue pinstripes that the Sox wore in the 1960's would be replaced by red pinstripes and *gasp!* red uniform socks.
The Sox would also have a new voice. Bob Elson, who had been broadcasting White Sox games since 1929, left to call A's games in Oakland. "The Commander" was replaced by Harry Caray, who returned to the Midwest after an unhappy summer in Oakland. Unfortunately, he would only be heard on a ragtag collection of low-wattage AM and FM stations throughout Chicago. The Sox were so bad in 1970 that they had a hard time finding a 50,000-watt AM flagship.
The White Sox went 79-83 in 1971. A losing record ... but light-years ahead of 1970.
Mike Andrews, for example, posted a .400 OBP at second base. He also led the team in walks, ahead of sluggers Melton and May. Melton led the AL in home runs with 33. Wilbur Wood won 22 games, posted a 1.91 ERA, and pitched 22 complete games.
During the 1971 off season, Hemond found the last piece of the puzzle. He traded Tommy John to the Dodgers for Dick Allen. Two years after losing 106 games, the Sox were contenders again.
Roland Hemond proved it could be done. Now it's up to Hahn to do it again.