Hugh Duffy took over as the fifth White Sox manager of all time, after Billy Sullivan had a disappointing 78-74 year in his one year at the player-manager helm.
Just as Sullivan’s defensive genius didn’t serve him particularly well as a skipper, Duffy was a Hall of Fame player who ended up a lousy manager; he in fact, with a 145-159-6 record in 1910-11, the first White Sox skipper to have a losing record over more than one full season running the show.
Duffy led the White Sox to a 68-85-3 record in 1910, in sixth place and 33 1⁄2 games out of first — the farthest the team had ever finished from the top.
White Sox GM Frank Lane struck again.
Lane dealt backup catcher and malcontent Joe Tipton to the Philadelphia A’s for a young, diminutive second baseman named Jacob Nelson “Nellie” Fox. Tipton had gotten into a fistfight with Sox manager Jack Onslow during the 1949 season, and wasn’t going to be kept.
All Fox did was eventually get to the Hall of Fame, have his No. 2 retired by the White Sox in 1976, make 12 All-Star teams, win the AL MVP in 1959 and become one of the faces of the Go-Go Sox during the 1950s and early 1960s.
Bill Veeck fired Larry Doby, the second Black manager in MLB history, and named Don Kessinger player-manager for the 1979 season.
Doby had gone 37-50 after replacing the fired Bob Lemon during the 1978 season. Though a small sample size, Doby did not seem particularly keen to manage, something Veeck picked up on. However, choosing Kessinger to replace Doby struck as a particularly hapless, cost-cutting move.
Kessinger was a mediocre player who managed just 8.9 rWAR over his 2,078 MLB games, and was worth -1.2 WAR over 226 games played for the White Sox from 1977-79. He went 46-60 in his partial year helming the South Siders, before he was fired on July 2 and replaced with Triple-A skipper Tony La Russa. One of Kessinger’s biggest regrets is that as manager, he didn’t play himself enough (Kessinger was hitting .196 with a .543 OPS over 39 games when he was fired). After La Russa took over, Kessinger awkwardly remained with the team as its shortstop, playing in about half of the remaining games in July and amassing ... four singles. His final game with the White Sox — and the last of his career — came on July 31.
The Lemon/Doby combination combined for 1.1 managerial WAR in the 1978 season, while the Kessinger/La Russa duo in 1979 was a putrid -6.4 mWAR — the eighth-worst managing season in White Sox history.
Though decades have passed, Kessinger remains the most recent player-manager in the American League.