The White Sox are a founding member of the American League, so they have a lot of history. They’ve only won three World Series over those 115 seasons, so there isn’t a lot of great history.
Even still, some of their best teams and players get overshadowed. It’s natural that fans would prefer to rehash the glory of the ‘59 Sox than explore the frustration of the 1964-67 teams, for instance, but I’ve long felt the franchise can take a firmer hand in surfacing remarkable players who deserved better from their surroundings, even if they don’t have the support of video highlights to make points.
The best way to illustrate this is to take the White Sox WAR leaderboard and using bold text to show which players have been honored with statues on their stadium’s outfield concourse:
- Luke Appling, 74.5
- Red Faber, 68.4
- Frank Thomas, 68.2
- Ted Lyons, 67.2
- Eddie Collins, 66.6
- Ed Walsh, 63.4
- Wilbur Wood, 51.8
- Eddie Cicotte, 49.7
- Billy Pierce, 49.1
- Nellie Fox, 46.9
This isn’t a strict order. I can see putting Thomas atop the list because of his role in the success of his teams, and/or that he’s the only one in the top six to play after integration. Likewise, Pierce vs. Wood is a classic career-or-peak argument (I think everybody can rule out Cicotte from future honors).
The forest is more important than the trees. Whichever order you put them, Appling is one of two players who can be considered the greatest White Sox player ever, and Collins is an inner-circle Hall of Famer when factoring in his Philadelphia career. The presences of both these players around the park is subdued, and statues probably aren’t in the cards, either, given the direction they’ve been handed out.
All of this is to say that I’m excited by the direction the White Sox have taken with their premium season tickets, which they released to the public on Wednesday:
They enlisted the services of sports designer Todd Radom to reward their biggest fans the way vinyl albums appeal to music collectors: premium packaging. Radom had teased these a couple months ago ...
Works in progress here as we dive right into 2017: pic.twitter.com/FFe8dQ4Blb— Todd Radom (@ToddRadom) January 5, 2017
... and now we knew what he was up to.
While most fans won’t have the pleasure of acquainting themselves with premium season tickets, I’m more excited by the reason Gareth Breunlin, the team’s director of advertising and design services, gave for their creation:
Breunlin described the process of making 81 individual art pieces (one for every home game of the season) in a phone call with MLB.com. After meeting with the team's resident archivist and realizing "how many beautiful things we have in our archive that really never see the light of day because they're older," Breunlin reached out to Radom to take that "old historical memorabilia to the next level using his artistic style and his look."
Moreover, they’ll be able to repackage these images in a la carte forms ...
Don't worry if you're not a season ticket holder, as you'll have a chance to turn your house into a White Sox art gallery. The team will be making the designs downloadable after each game, even entering your seat and section number to reflect your day at the yard.
"Take something amazing that happened, like a [Mark] Buehrle perfect game a few years back," Breunlin said. "You'd be able to download this exact ticket. And then additionally, we're working with our White Sox charities to make some prints available."
... which is vital, assuming “some prints” aren’t limited to 2005, 1993 and 1959. Otherwise, it’d be like moving the team’s memorabilia collection from a 100-level museum to an exhibit behind the scout seats — walled off to the few who are most likely to know it.
The stories and images of players like Appling, Collins, Lyons need to be in front of more fans. And I suppose there’s an element of selfishness in stumping for wider availability, because I can find perfect locations for a few of these by looking to my right. I imagine most White Sox fans can say the same, though, which only bolsters my point further.