In the spirit of the day, the crack research team at South Side Sox came up with the White Sox 420 All-Stars.
As you might expect, it’s a ragtag bunch of beerleaguers, light on defense, heavy on hitting — and always ready to party postgame.
All right, readers, let’s fire up the list!
Ken Henderson (CF) Clean-cut to aviator-glasses hippie. Henderson had a killer season in center for the Sox in 1974, probably due to listening to Dark Side of the Moon on headphones pregame, every night.
Brian Downing (C) More groove, more aviators. Yeah, Downing eventually sported a bench-pressing meathead look after being traded to the Angels, but in Chicago, it was chill.
Dick Allen (1B) Allen at first base? I figure you gotta keep the guy engaged; he DHs, he’ll start playing the ponies, or scoping chicks, or reading his own press, and drop out of the game. Most fearsome hitter — like, kill you with the line drives fearsome — in White Sox history. Had himself some chill specs, too.
Oscar Gamble (RF) Needs no introduction. It doesn’t have to be all about the fro. But, the fro is enough.
Bill Melton (SS) Melton at short? Well, early in his career he split time between third and right field, so he sort of had some wheels? Kevin Bell is available on the taxi squad if Melton’s back gets cranky.
Eric Soderholm (3B) Beerleaguer clubber? Check. Prescription shades? Check. Chill demeanor? Check. A need for alternate pain meds while rehabbing from devastating knee surgery? Check.
Lamar Johnson (DH) Lamar Johnson was a renaissance man, singing the National Anthem before games, hitting hell outta the ball during them. Influenced by Oscar’s fro? Perhaps. A good-time guy, always sporting a smile? Absolutely.
Jay Johnstone (LF) Had two mediocre, early-1970s seasons on the South Side. But he’s Jay Johnstone, all-time baseball flake. He’s in.
Jerry Hairston (2B) OK, not an infielder, but someone has to play second, and he’s somewhat short at 5´10´´. Was perhaps the best pinch-hitter in White Sox history, so even if he’s ... chillin’ ... in the clubhouse, expect Jerry to step up to the plate and get the job done, whether blunting a bunt or blooming a long clout.
Ted Easterly (C-OF) A player from the turn of the 20th Century who gains automatic entry based on having an April 20 birthday. Tendency to light up and be happy: Unknown.
Tommie Agee (OF) As a key cog in the 1969 Miracle Mets, Agee would seem to fit this vibe, despite his White Sox career ending before the moon landing.
Carlos May (OF) Perhaps Carlos subs in for Lam Johnson at DH, at least against righties in a platoon. May’s groove factor is uncertain, but he did let his hair get a little taller and his face grow long as the 1970s wore on.
Buddy Bradford (OF) Sported some righteous sideburns for a spell.
Ed Hermann (C) Hermann just seemed like a groovy cat, well-liked by all teammates. A bud’s bud, you might say. RIP, Hoggy.
Tony Muser (1B) There is a little bit of narc to Muser’s look, like he transformed from clean-cut to a bearded cat a little bit too seamlessly, yeah? Well, the White Sox don’t exactly have a groovy history, so Muser makes the club — but we’re keeping a close eye on him.
Jim Essian (C) Too many catchers? Whatever, man, it’s baked into the mix. Essian rocked a righteous stache, and may have even moved into perm territory. So, so chill.
Claudell Washington (OF) Claudell sported a badass look, period. Deep down he seems like a mellow fellow, but you cross him, he’ll step right up on you. Claudell is going to keep the clubhouse on point, which is no easy challenge with this ragtag bunch.
Bob Molinaro (OF) Growing up an Italian White Sox fan, I couldn’t help but see Bobby as a guy who, hey, sorta looked like me, so he scrapes onto the roster. Molinaro looked like he just pulled a hot pie out of the wood-burning pizza oven, then just rolled up to the ballpark for a few pops and some from-the-heels swings. And that’s before he strapped on the softball uni.
Francisco Barrios (RHSP) I’m gonna call Francisco my ace, because he had a look. I wouldn’t call it chill, though. He might play a Claudell role for the pitching staff. Seems like you might not have wanted to cross Francisco. But, here’s to good friends, tonight is kinda special ... after a well-earned win, Barrios could mellow out with the rest. Died far too young.
Steve Stone (RHSP) I mean, Stone was a fashion plate and man about town, but holy god he had some looks. He could swerve all the way from working the pizza oven with Molinaro to Studio 54 perm action, rocking the polyester. Guaranteed No. 2 starter.
Bart Johnson (RHSP) Another hurler who veered from unkempt hippie to perm, to cropped. Just try to tame this wild boy. Look at him funny, and you’re gonna get some chin music.
Steve “Rainbow” Trout (LHSP) One of several rostered 420s famed for sporting the aviator shades that say, hey man, I got a headache, don’t ask. The nickname alone, much less the wild hair and free spirit, gets Trout in the rotation.
Earl Harrist A player from the 1950s who gains automatic entry based on having an April 20 birthday. Tendency to light up and be happy: Also unknown.
Cy Acosta Acosta never smiled on his baseball cards. Did he? He seemed like a free-spirited bullpen sort, and it was hard just scraping up three relievers groovy enough to make the club, so Cy, you’re in.
Goose Gossage Natch, the closer. You wouldn’t know it from his old-school droning on these days, but Gossage and Bruce Sutter rocking those fu-manchus and unkempt look were downright frightening on the mound, chucking 100 mph cheese at you. Scary. Unpredictable. Groovy. Can spot start. Goose, leave the grandpa grousing at the door, and you’re in.
Tony La Russa Like Gossage, you wouldn’t know it by his big mouth today, but La Russa was a young, hip manager in the late 1970s. The youngest skipper in baseball at the time (or close), he was a lawyer, an animal rights activist, definitely an iconoclast. And as the same age as most of his players, sure, party on, Tony.
Bill Veeck Oh, please, like there could be anyone else to run this team, in the stodgy climes of the suite class. Can you imagine the marijuana-related promotions Veeck would dream up in a legalization era? I mean, he pretty much already did one, with the disastrous Disco Demolition, although that’s really on son Mike. Bill lit up so often, he had an ashtray in his leg! Veeck, here are the keys, just don’t have all your profits go up in smoke.
Disclaimer: (I gotta do a disclaimer for this, right?) OK. This article is written all in good fun. No aspersions cast, implications made, or accusations lobbed. It’s just a dopey idea I had on a rainout day, looking at the calendar. No one at SB Nation or South Side Sox or major league baseball endorses baking, smoking, chilling, grooving, budding, partying, or getting the munchies. Not saying they don’t do it; they just don’t endorse it. I don’t think. Huh? Uh, what was I talking about?