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The Stratton Story

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Today in White Sox History: November 27

Highs and lows on the trading wire

The tragic accident that would eventually fuel a Hollywood feature starring Jimmy Stewart occurred on this day, 85 years ago.
| Hulton Archive/Getty Images

1938

White Sox pitcher Monty Stratton, an American League All-Star in 1937 and one of the best young players in the game, accidentally shot himself in the leg while hunting, when his .22 caliber pistol discharged as he was replacing it in his holster; he had failed to engage the safety. Unable to get help, Stratton crawled a half-mile to a road leading into Greenville, Texas. The bullet pierced a femoral artery, which stopped circulation to the limb, necessitating amputation. His five-year career ended. He eventually came back to play in a few minor league games using a wooden leg.

In 1948 Hollywood made The Stratton Story, starring Jimmy Stewart, June Allyson and Stratton’s manager with the White Sox, Jimmy Dykes.


Radford News-Journal

1951

Another one of Frank Lane’s great deals was struck when the GM sent catcher Gus Niarhos, pitcher Dick Littlefield, first baseman Gordon Goldsberry, shortstop Joe DeMaestri and outfield Jim Rivera to the St. Louis Browns for pitcher Al Widmar, infielder Tom Upton (flipped to Washington for Sam Dente later in the day) and the main prize, catcher Sherm Lollar. Lollar would become a three-time All-Star and a three-time Gold Glove-winner. He was considered the second-best catcher in the league throughout the 1950s, behind New York’s Yogi Berra.

Rivera was a favorite of Browns manager Rogers Hornsby (the legend was quoted as saying “he’s the only player in all baseball today that I’d buy a $2 box seat to watch play”), but Jungle Jim was reacquired by the White Sox the next July. Widmar would pitch just one game with the White Sox, the last of his career, but Lollar and Rivera would remain with the club through the early 1960s.


1961

In a bizarre coincidence, both Minnie Miñoso and Joe Cunningham were at the same sports banquet in Joliet when word came that the White Sox and Cardinals had made a trade — and the deal was Miñoso for Cunningham!

Cunningham was among the finest fielding first baseman in franchise history, ranking right up there with Joe Kuhel and Tony Muser. In 1962, Joe reached base 268 times and led the Sox in walks, runs, sacrifice flies and bunts. He hit .295 and drove in 70 runs.

In July 1964, Cunningham was sent to the Senators as part of a deal bringing Bill “Moose” Skowron to the Sox.


1981

It was a move criticized at the time, as White Sox GM Roland Hemond sent outfielder Chet Lemon to the Tigers for outfielder Steve Kemp.

The swap of All-Stars left Sox fans shaking their heads, because Kemp would become a free agent after the upcoming season. He’d eventually sign a big-money contract with the Yankees after knocking in 98 runs and hitting .286 for the Sox.

However, what wasn’t known at the time was that the Sox weren’t going to re-sign Lemon, either. Lemon had agreed on a contract extension with the White Sox, but refused to sign it after the Sox signed Carlton Fisk for more money than they had agreed to give Lemon. While Chet later admitted regret over the prideful move, he was a core piece of the brilliant, World Series-winning 1984 Tigers and spent a successful decade in Detroit.


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