It was one of the worst deals ever made by GM Roland Hemond. The White Sox acquired Cubs star Ron Santo after Santo refused a deal to the Angels. Santo, who may have been able to be picked up on waivers, was acquired for pitchers Steve Stone and Ken Frailing, catcher Steve Swisher, and a player to be named later. (A week later, the PTBNL was shipped north: pitcher Jim Kremmel.)
Santo did very little in his one season with the White Sox and was considered a clubhouse cancer and bully, often getting into disagreements with Dick Allen. Santo’s highlight was probably the inside-the-park home run he hit on June 9, 1974 against Boston’s Bill Lee at Comiskey Park. Santo was also one of the few players who disliked playing under manager Chuck Tanner.
Santo hit a paltry .221 for the Sox, with five home runs and 41 RBIs. His WAR was an almost impossibly-bad -1.6, almost a four-win swing from the 2.3 he’d posted in his last season with the Cubs; in fact, only seven White Sox players in history had as many as Santo’s 418 plate appearances in 1974 with a lower WAR.
White Sox GM Roland Hemond sent third baseman Bill Melton, a former AL home run champ, and pitcher Steve Dunning to California for first baseman Jim Spencer and outfielder Morris Nettles. Melton had a bad back, and had worn out his welcome with the team — getting into a shouting match in a Milwaukee hotel lobby with broadcaster Harry Caray.
Spencer, meanwhile, would win a Gold Glove in Chicago for his defensive prowess. He also had 18 home runs and 69 RBIs for the South Side Hit Men in 1977, twice driving in eight runs in a game that season.
Edward DeBartolo was voted down by other American League owners in his attempt to buy the White Sox from Bill Veeck. DeBartolo, the man who invented the modern shopping mall in Boardman, Ohio, may have had connections with organized crime. He also owned horse racing tracks, and wasn’t from the Chicago area. All were “red flags” for the other owners.
In an effort to appease commissioner Bowie Kuhn, DeBartolo agreed to move to Chicago at least 20% of the time to have a direct connection to what was going on with the franchise. His compromises fell on deaf ears, as he only received three affirmative votes despite already funneling money into the ballclub (in part put toward the acquisitions of Jim Essian and Ron LeFlore) and vowed to invest money into modernizing Comiskey Park.
In rejecting DeBartolo — father of San Francisco 49ers and Pittsburgh Penguins owner Eddie Jr. — the door was then re-opened for the group headed by Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn to get the White Sox. Their bid, with shakier financing, had previously been rejected by Veeck.
Another fine deal pulled off by GM Roland Hemond came when shortstop Todd Cruz and outfielder Rod Allen were sent to the Mariners for Tom “Wimpy” Paciorek. Tom was coming off of an All-Star season with the M’s in 1981. He would hit better than .300 for the White Sox in both 1982 and 1983, and also was one of the craziest guys to ever do commercials for the club.
After he retired, Paciorek worked in the Sox broadcasting booth from 1988-99.
Harold Baines, with his No. 3 already retired after a trade to the Texas Rangers in 1989, signed with the White Sox as a free agent. He put up a respectable 2.8 WAR with 22 homers, 95 RBIs and a .902 OPS in 1996, then was dealt in-season to Baltimore in 1997. He was acquired with catcher Charles Johnson at the trade deadline in 2000 for a third term and second playoff appearance the White Sox. Then Harold re-signed for 2001 in hopes of making it back to the playoffs and past the 3,000-hit mark — but neither goal was achieved.
After losing star pitcher Alex Fernandez to free agency and claiming that starting pitcher Kevin Tapani was faking an injury to his pitching hand (an injury that would force Tapani to miss the first half of the 1997 season after signing with the Cubs), White Sox GM Ron Schueler signed pitcher Jaime Navarro to a four-year, $20 million deal.
Navarro was a complete bust. His three-year record with the Sox was 25-43, and he often publicly blamed his teammates for his pitching issues. No pitcher in White Sox history with more than 250 1⁄3 innings pitched (Navarro threw 542) has a worse ERA than his 6.06, and just four pitchers with more than 100 INNINGS have a higher ERA.
Making matters worse was Schueler’s refusal to talk with the agents for Roger Clemens after he had expressed an interest in joining the team. Schueler offered this comment on the matter: ”Roger Clemens is over the hill.” During the same three-year period that Navarro was with the Sox, Clemens would win two Cy Youngs and 55 games.
Navarro eventually did do something positive for the franchise — he was part of the terrific trade that brought José Valentín and Cal Eldred to the Sox in January 2000.