It was the move that re-energized the franchise and led directly to back-to-back-to-back 90 or more-win seasons in 1963, 1964 and 1965. White Sox GM Ed Short traded shortstop Luis Aparicio and outfielder Al Smith to the Orioles for third baseman Pete Ward, outfielder Dave Nicholson, shortstop Ron Hansen and relief pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm.
Ward would be named Co-Rookie of the Year (with teammate Gary Peters) and would supply power for the next few seasons. In 1963 and 1964 Ward averaged 22 home runs, 89 RBIs and hit .290 before an accident (in which he was a passenger in a car leaving Chicago Stadium after a hockey game) severely impacted his career. Nicholson, who struck out far too much, still had 22 home runs and 70 RBIs in 1963. Hansen would be one of the best defensive shortstops in the league and hit as many as 20 home runs in a season, at a time when shortstops simply didn’t do that. Wilhelm became the top relief pitcher of the 1960s. In his six years with the Sox, he’d win 41 games and save 98 others while producing some astonishingly low ERAs considering he threw a knuckleball. His highest ERA between 1963 and 1968 was 2.64, and every other season it was less than two. He’d be elected to the Hall of Fame in 1985.
The White Sox acquired pitcher David Wells from Toronto, basically for pitcher Mike Sirotka. Over the coming weeks and months, Sirotka and the Blue Jays claimed the Sox knew that Sirotka had a bad arm and couldn’t pitch. Sox GM Ken Williams defended himself by saying that he told the Jays he thought Sirotka might be hurt and offered pitcher Jim Parque instead. Commissioner Bud Selig ruled in late March that the trade would stand. The whole episode became known as “Shouldergate.”
Wells, meanwhile, had few good moments with the Sox. He won on Opening Day in Cleveland after he said that fans in the stands got him angry by talking about his mother and how he was raised. But after that, because of a bad back, he barely pitched, winning only five games in total.
He then caused a major controversy when he went on the radio and said that he didn’t think first baseman Frank Thomas was as badly hurt as he claimed. Thomas would play only 20 games that year after he tore a tricep muscle diving for a ground ball.