It’s the time of year where, as we look ahead with desperate hope to the ramshackle 2023 Chicago White Sox, we look back at those South Siders we lost in 2022. Included among them are an ace rookie, a super-sparkplug, some quality bullpen arms, and even a White Sox First Lady.
Please, feel free to use the comments to honor any White Sox close to you who we lost in 2022.
White Sox career 1983-86
Died Feb. 22, 2022
Julio Cruz had big shoes to fill on the South Side, swapped straight-up in 1983 for second baseman Tony Bernazard, who manager Tony La Russa considered the heart of his White Sox club.
Well, Juice filled those shoes and then some, providing a bottom-of-the-order spark. After his acquisition, the moribund White Sox won 71 of their final 102 games and crushed their way to the AL West title. Fittingly, Cruz scored the division-clinching run:
Turf toe slowed the remainder of Cruz’s White Sox and baseball career, but for the 1983 season, he was at the center of some magic.
For more on Juice’s White Sox career, I covered his loss for South Side Sox back in February.
White Sox career 1962-70
Died March 16, 2022
Part of the haul that came in from Baltimore in the Luis Aparicio trade, Ward immediately made an impact on the South Side, nearly winning Rookie of the Year and finishing ninth in AL MVP voting in 1963. (He finished sixth in AL MVP voting the very next year!)
His career was hampered by a car accident in May 1965, riding in a car that was rear-ended on the way home from a Chicago Blackhawks game (the Montreal native had a lifelong passion for hockey). Still, Ward’s 20.0 WAR as a White Sox player ranks him 27th all-time among franchise hitters and 49th all-time among all players.
Our Mark Liptak got to know Pete over the years, and in March shared a terrific Q&A as a tribute to his friend.
White Sox career 1968
Died April 3, 2022
Davis’ brief White Sox career will always be clouded by the fact that he was the centerpiece of the trade that hastened the franchise’s fall into the horror that ended the 1960s. Tommie Agee was a rising star, so even a straight-up swap for Davis wouldn’t have made sense; that the package deal helped fuel a World Series title for the Mets in 1969 made the muffed transaction sting more.
Because Davis (and to be fair, his teammates) played poorly in 1968, the White Sox left him unprotected as the AL expanded, and the Seattle Pilots snatched him from Chicago. That began a career renaissance for Davis that lasted well into the 1970s.
Mark Liptak paid tribute to Davis at South Side Sox back in April.
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
White Sox career 1961-71
Died April 10, 2022
Joe Horlen finished his 12-year career at a game worse than .500. But he was anything but an average pitcher. He brought no-hit stuff to the mound every start, and had 10 low-hit games, including a no-hitter in 1967.
Plus, you’ll never guess what Joe chewed during games. No, not tobacco. Not bubble gum, either. If you guessed Kleenex, you are a winner!
Like with Pete Ward, Mark Liptak got to know Joe over the years. And just as he did on the occasion of Ward’s death in March, Mark shared a terrific Q&A in April, as a tribute to his friend.
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher
White Sox career 1965-69
Died Aug. 15, 2022
Locker was blessed with an amazing sinker, but also took a student’s approach to the game. The righty recorded detailed notes on batter matchups and pitch use, but also on how various umpires called his pitches. Thus, with the help of mentor Eddie Fisher, Locker held his own against any of the bullpen arms the White Sox rolled out in the late 1960s. By 1969, however, Locker was suffering acute elbow pain, and he was dealt west to Seattle during the season — where he pitched extremely well to end 1969. The reliever ended up earning a ring with the 1972 Oakland A’s, and had the best season of his career (at age 35) back in Chicago with the Cubs in 1973.
Mark Liptak wrote our obituary for Locker back in August.
White Sox career 1972-73
Died Aug. 25, 2022
Ken Frailing was one of the first-ever White Sox draft choices, and became just the third club draft pick to achieve a positive WAR in the majors. Despite that positive impact with a White Sox team on the rise, Frailing (like Tommy Davis) has a legacy on the South Side as being part of a disastrous deal: This time, the Ron Santo intracity debacle that helped gut the momentum of the Chuck Tanner White Sox.
Year of the Hamster paid tribute to Frailing back in August.
Mary Frances Veeck
Wife of White Sox owner Bill Veeck
White Sox connection 1959-61, 1975-81
Died Sept. 10, 2022
If you thought the shorts the White Sox wore in 1976 were delightful (answer: of course they were, the team played .667 ball in them), thank Mary Frances Veeck, who designed them.
Muse and partner of the greatest showman in baseball history, Bill Veeck, Mary Frances lived for almost 40 years as his widow. But she was an extraordinary individual in her own right, fueling the Veecks’ drives for social equality in the 1960s and onward, and providing a sounding board to her wildly-creative (and yes, sometimes erratic) husband.
She first encountered Bill while working as a press agent for the Ice Capades, and Veeck proposed to her within a week of their meeting. Well into marriage, and juggling dozens of ideas at any given time, Bill would stop to call home to Mary Frances every night while on the road.
It is rare to have a spouse play a prominent role (any role, really) in sports ownership. But Mary Frances was different, as someone who would always end up reflecting well on the franchise.
White Sox career 1964-67
Died Sept. 30, 2022
Local (Oak Park) product Marv Staehle was signed by the White Sox after just one year Western Illinois University, spending three seasons stuck at the absolute lowest level of pro ball (Class D). But something clicked in 1963, and Staehle thrived at Double-A and Triple-A; on the strength of .339 hitting that year, the second-sacker saw his first September cup of coffee in 1964 with the White Sox.
The 5´7´´ Staehle never got much traction on the South Side, however, hitting just .160 over 53 games. That low average came in spite of a delicious back-of-baseball-card start to his MLB record, hitting .400 in six games in 1964 and .429 over seven in 1965.
The White Sox shipped Staehle to Cleveland as the player to be named later in the Rocky Colavito trade after the 1967 season. He saw some substantial time for the expansion Montreal Expos in 1969 and 1970, but by 1971 Staehle had played his last MLB game.
During his retirement in Lake Geneva, Wis., Staehle was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2015. Rather than just accept the diagnosis and lose mobility, Staehle noted the recent developments made with boxing as a Parkinson’s treatment, and eventually used training in the ring to regain motor function, even getting back on the golf course.
On a degrees-of-separation personal note, Marv ended up playing on my father’s team — as a State Farm insurance agent. My dad operated out of Highwood for 40 years, and Marv ran his agency in Buffalo Grove over 34, pretty much in the same time frame.
Left-Handed Relief Pitcher
White Sox system 2003-04
Died: Nov. 18, 2022
Sean Thompson had a brief stay in the White Sox organization, but after that passed on his love of the game to hundreds of younger players. A 35th round pick out of UC-Santa Barbara in 2003, the southpaw couldn’t quite catch up to the speed of the pro game, even at the Rookie League level.
After leaving the White Sox organization in 2004, “Leche” quickly moved into coaching back in the South Bay area, first with youth touring teams and later at Redondo Beach High and Marymount California University. His post as manager of the MCU Mariners was his last stop in baseball, compiling a 36-32 record over the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
Left-Handed Relief Pitcher
White Sox career 1954
Died Dec. 8, 2022
While Tom Flanigan’s major league career consisted of just three games, he wowed the White Sox enough to break camp with the team in 1954, when he was just 19. The southpaw boasted a top-notch curveball, which sped his time through the minors. Despite manager Paul Richards’ excitement over his potential, the White Sox were in the thick of the pennant race from the get-go and the skipper was reluctant to pitch a raw rookie. Thus, Flanigan sat for 23 days between his MLB debut on April 14 and his second game (and final appearance for the White Sox), a garbage-time loss on May 8. His brief career in Chicago ended as rosters were trimmed to 25 in-season, with Flanigan boasting a 0.00 ERA over two games and 1 2⁄3 innings.
Flanigan languished in the minors until 1957, when the Cardinals snagged him in the Rule 5 draft. He would pitch one inning in relief on Opening Day, be shipped back to the minors, and retire before the decade was out.
Thank you to Dave Hoekstra for his wonderful tribute to Mary Frances Veeck, which was used in this article.