The upstart South Side Hit Men, who led the AL West for about a third of the season and took baseball by storm in peaking at 25 games above .500, were laid to rest with the loss of outfielder and folk hero Richie Zisk, who signed a 10-year, $2.3 million deal with the Texas Rangers.
Zisk was the lone All-Star for the White Sox in 1977, finishing seventh on the club with 2.7 WAR, and fifth among hitters. His 30 home runs were second on the team, and included one ball on the Comiskey Park roof, when the feat was still rare.
Zisk duplicated his All-Star selection in Texas in 1978, but never again came close to the production he put up for the White Sox. He was out of baseball with four seasons still remaining on his contract.
Losing Zisk spotlighted a flaw in owner Bill Veeck’s desperate Rent-a-Player concept, as star arms Terry Forster and Goose Gossage had been shipped out to secure just one year of Zisk.
On the basis of an unexpected Central Division championship and 95-win season, White Sox skipper Jerry Manuel was named the Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers Association of America. He ran away with the award, beating out Art Howe of Oakland, 134 points to 74. He got 25 first-place votes out of a possible 28. Part of the rout stemmed from the fact that the young White Sox commanded such a paltry payroll, ranking 21st out of 30 teams.