With the White Sox in first place, another freak injury occurred that was reminiscent of past bizarre circumstances, costing the team dearly. First baseman Joe Cunningham, who hit .295 with 70 RBIs and 101 walks in 1962, broke his collarbone in Los Angeles running out a ground ball in the fifth inning.
Cunningham was trying to avoid stepping on Angels first baseman Charlie Dees’ foot, so he twisted and lost his balance, tripping over the bag and crashing down to the ground; a wild throw from second baseman Billy Moran that started the sequence.
Cunningham didn’t return until September. Tommy McCraw was called up to replace him, but just couldn’t fill the bill. The team’s decline set in quickly after Cunningham’s injury, even though the club finished the season in second place at 94-68, 10 ½ games behind the Yankees.
With the No. 3 overall pick in the MLB draft, the White Sox picked Andrew Vaughn, a first baseman from the University of California. The slugger won the Golden Spikes Award in 2018.
It marked just the second time since 1977 (Harold Baines, first overall) that the White Sox had such a high draft pick (2013, Carlos Rodón, No. 3 overall). Vaughn took an unorthodox route to the majors, jumping in 2021 from High-A to the South Side after missing the entire 2020 season due to the pandemic. Vaughn became the first player from the 2019 draft to make the majors.