Two near-teammates on the White Sox in the 1970s, Cy Acosta and Rich McKinney, were born.
McKinney, born in Piqua, Ohio, was chosen No. 14 overall by the White Sox in 1968 and made the majors in 1970. He played third, short, second and right field in a brief, two-season career on the South Side before being flipped to the Yankees in 1971 for pitcher Stan Bahnsen.
As McKinney was logging 114 games and 0.6 WAR for the 1971 White Sox, Acosta nearly became his exact-birthday teammate, logging 24 games for the Triple-A Tucson Toros before eventually getting the call to the bigs in 1972. Acosta was one of a few Roland Hemond (White Sox GM) dealings with the Mexican League — aided by White Sox legend Minnie Miñoso, who was then a player-manager for Acosta’s Jalisco club.
Acosta, born in Sinaloa, Mexico, was almost unbelievably good in a short career with the White Sox. The righthander compiled 5.7 WAR in just 186 innings from 1972-74, including the (tied for) sixth-best relief season in White Sox history, 4.1 in 1973. Possibly as a result of an arm injury, Acosta at 28 years old was sold to Philadelphia for the 1974 season and pitched in just six more games in his career.
Acosta also was the first AL pitcher to bat after the institution of the DH rule, striking out in Dick Allen’s place on June 20, 1973.
Slugger Ron Kittle took home the AL Rookie of the Year. The news broke a day earlier than intended, as WBBM in Chicago got word of the BBWAA’s call to Kittle the night before the announcement and got the story out.
After a cup of coffee in 1982, the Gary, Ind. native exploded for 35 home runs and 100 RBIs, slashing .254/.314/.504. Kittle fell just two shy of the AL rookie record for home runs, set by Al Rosen in 1950.
A majors-leading 150 Ks and poor defense in left field dragged Kittle’s WAR down to 1.9, but those negatives didn’t dissuade voters, who gave him 15 of 28 first-place votes. Cleveland’s Julio Franco was the runner-up, but the player cheated most by this vote was Baltimore’s Mike Boddicker, who logged 4.1 WAR but finished third in voting.
Kittle’s career would get no better, as 1983 was his career year and the only season of his 10 in the bigs in which he played more than 139 games. He was signed and traded away two separate times by the White Sox, but over seven seasons at Comiskey Park, Kittle hit seven rooftop homers — more than any other player.
Despite fielding better offers from several teams, José Valentín re-signed with the White Sox for three years and $15.2 million, plus a fourth-year option at $5 million. It was a huge coup for the White Sox, who had pickpocketed Milwaukee in January by lifting José and Cal Eldred for Jaime Navarro and John Snyder.
Valentín put up an extraordinary 4.9 WAR season in 2000, helping lead the White Sox to the AL Central title. He followed that with 12.0 WAR from 2001 to 2004, making this contract a value steal for the White Sox.
The shortstop remains one of the more underrated players in team history. His 16.9 WAR with the White Sox ties him for 36th-best among hitters in franchise history, tied with Don Buford.