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John Whitehead Warms Up

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Today in White Sox History: October 20

The 44th-best pitcher in franchise annals left us on this day

An all-time Top 50 White Sox pitcher, John Whitehead, left us on this day, 60 years ago.
| Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images


Bruce “Soupy” Campbell (no relation to the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup-winning defenseman with the same nickname), a Chicago native (LaGrange H.S.) who played the first two of his 13 major league seasons on the South Side, was born 113 years ago today.

Though he played just 16 career games (age 20-22) with the White Sox, he logged a career 0.4 rWAR for the team — over 162 games, that’s a 4.1 WAR, friends. And once Campbell got a chance to play, he had some solid seasons, particularly in 1935 in Cleveland, when he had 2.0 rWAR in just 80 games.

His career peak came in the autumn of his days, when at age 30 and after a decent season for the Tigers, Soupy dominated in his only World Series appearance, getting into all seven games of Detroit’s seven-game loss to the Cincinnati Reds, slashing .360/.448/.520.

Back in 1936 with Cleveland, Campbell went 7-7 in a doubleheader against his former team, the St. Louis Browns. He went 6-for-6 with five RBIs in the first game, making him just the 21st person since 1900 to have a 6-for-6 game. He had a single in the nightcap, then left the game with a 7-for-7 day.

After that season, Campbell was named the Most Courageous Athlete of the Year by Philadelphia sportswriters after surviving spinal meningitis the year before (and was given a 50% chance of survival … yes, Campbell’s career year in 1935 had been cut short by spinal meningitis).

At 33 and still an active major leaguer, Campbell enlisted in the Army, serving for three years. He returned to the game in 1946, but never made it back to the majors.

Campbell died in 1995, at age 85.


John Whitehead, a four-year rotation member who helped lead the White Sox to some rare, not-awful years between 1921 and 1950, died in Bonham, Texas.

The introverted “Silent John” won 47 of his 49 career games in the majors with the White Sox, a reliable arm in a rotation otherwise manned with stalwarts like Ted Lyons, Monty Stratton and Thornton Lee.

After an outstanding run from 1932-34 with the Single-A Dallas Steers (46-29, 3.24 ERA), the White Sox signed Whitehead and inserted him into the rotation out of camp. His debut came on April 19, a complete-game win over the Detroit Tigers, and Whitehead went on to win his first eight starts — undefeated all the way through April and May. More amazingly, Whitehead threw all but two outs of his first eight games in the majors — seven complete games and one “cheap” win of 8 1⁄3 innings on May 19. And his start in the bigs gets even weirder, because Whitehead completed his next four games after that — and lost them all!

So it went in Whitehead’s career with the White Sox, a step forward and a step back, in terms of wins.

Whitehead finished third on the White Sox as a rookie, with 4.3 WAR, finishing behind only Luke Appling and Lyons. His strong sophomore year (2.6 WAR) in 1936 landed him fourth on the team. His solid work earned him Opening Day starts for the team in 1936 and 1938.

But in the end, pitching for an average-ish team, Whitehead struggled to stick at .500 (47-48 career, with a 4.45 ERA and 109 ERA+). He bounced around with the St. Louis Browns after his time in Chicago, pitching for four full years solely in St. Louis’ minors to end his affiliated career. And even after St. Louis released him Whitehead continued, pitching in Single-B and until age 40 — compiling a 45-26 record and 4.11 ERA for the Sherman-Denison Twins.

All-time, Whitehead ties for the 44th-best pitcher in White Sox history, at 11.6 WAR. That puts him right in the the company of Dylan Cease, Floyd Bannister, LaMarr Hoyt and Carlos Rodón.

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