In an effort to start improving a desultory offense, White Sox GM Roland Hemond and new owner Bill Veeck acquired former NL batting champ Ralph “Road Runner” Garr from Atlanta for pitchers Dan Osborn and Dick Ruthven, and outfielder Ken Henderson. (Larvell Blanks also came from Atlanta in the trade, but he was flipped quickly to Cleveland for Jack Brohamer.)
Garr had severe limitations in the field, but he did become the catalyst for the South Side Hit Men in 1977 with his speed and ability to hit to all fields. That year, he hit .300 with 10 home runs, 54 RBIs and 12 stolen bases. As an encore, he hit .300 in 1978 as well, and would end his near four-year run on the South Side with a .291 average but just 2.7 WAR.
Garr trivia: He was acquired by the White Sox on his 30th birthday.
More Garr trivia: Despite his well-known “Road Runner” moniker, which made Garr’s the first licensed nickname in any sport, the White Sox chose to rebrand Garr as the “Main Man” on the Comiskey Park scoreboard.
Sometimes the smaller moves are what turn out to be important: White Sox GM Roland Hemond traded pitcher Richard “Tex” Wortham to the Expos for switch-hitting second baseman Tony Bernazard.
Bernazard would be part of the “New Deal” Sox in 1981 and would eventually be traded for another productive second baseman (Julio “Juice” Cruz) in June 1983. Manager Tony La Russa called Bernazard — who put up a remarkable 7.7 WAR over just 302 games on the South Side — the heart of the club during the second sacker’s time in Chicago.
Ken Harrelson is (incorrectly) regarded as a horrible general manager, but don’t ask the Yankees. One of Hawk’s several terrific deals with New York during his short tenure came when he sent southpaw starter Britt Burns and minor-leaguers Glenn Braxton and Mike Soper east for starting pitcher Joe Cowley and catcher Ron Hassey.
Cowley had a solid 1986 (1.7 WAR) that included one of the weirdest no-hitters in White Sox history, while Hassey was dealt back to the Yankees two months later and then acquired again by the White Sox in-season in two other superb swaps — all in the course of eight months.
Burns never pitched again in the major leagues, his career over at age 26 due to an arthritic hip.
In an effort to add a veteran arm to a young staff, provide an innings-eater to sop up frames, or simply just to carry on a South Side knuckleballer tradition that dates back to Eddie Cicotte, the inventor of the pitch, the White Sox inked Charlie Hough to round out the rotation. Hough would provide a mediocre WAR (2.1) but league-average performance (99 ERA+) in 1990-91.
Hough trivia: The righty spent every season of the 1970s on the Dodgers, and every season of the 1980s with Texas.