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Today in White Sox History: January 25

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The White Sox outfoxed the Cubs, and forced a huge trade to their benefit

Sports Contributor Archive 2019
Could Fergie Jenkins have won his 300th game with the White Sox due to a draft-compensation steal? It almost happened.
Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images

1983

The White Sox and GM Roland Hemond embarrassed the Cubs by hinting through the media that they might select pitcher Fergie Jenkins after the Cubs left him unprotected in the free agent draft. Jenkins, the future Hall-of-Famer, was getting close to the magical 300-win mark in his career, and the Sox were entitled to compensation after losing outfielder Steve Kemp to the Yankees.

The Cubs were forced to trade Scott Fletcher, Dick “Dirt” Tidrow, Randy Martz and Pat Tabler to the Sox for a promise not to take Jenkins, along with pitchers Steve Trout and Warren Brusstar. The Sox then flipped Tabler to Cleveland for Jerry Dybzinski. After it was all said and done, Cubs GM Dallas Green was quoted as saying, “To say I’m relieved probably would be an understatement.”

Fletcher would be a part of the 1983 division champions, but his bigger impact perhaps came in 1990, for the “Doin’ the Little Things” White Sox, who shocked baseball by winning 94 games. Fletcher was a defensive rock at second base and executed small things exceptionally well — bunting, hitting behind a runner and to the opposite field, and driving in key runs. Tidrow did just about everything a relief pitcher could do in 1983, and Dybzinski stabilized a shaky infield in the early part of that same season. Unfortunately, Dybzinski’s baserunning error in Game 4 of the ALCS is what he is best remembered for.

The White Sox starting staff was so deep in 1983, with seven pitchers on the roster who all won at least 10 games in a major league season, that Martz never really got a chance. He only made one emergency start that year, in a game at Detroit. Those other pitchers who won at least 10 games were LaMarr Hoyt, Richard Dotson, Floyd Bannister, Britt Burns, Jerry Koosman and Steve Mura.