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Chicago White Sox Photo Day
Here’s a shot from Jermaine Dye’s first Photo Day with the White Sox. He was acquired on this day, 19 years ago.
Ron Vesely/MLB via Getty Images

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Today in White Sox History: December 9

Jermaine Dye flashes some true character, commits to the South Side

1959

The White Sox continued their offseason purging of young players by shipping future All-Star slugging outfielder Johnny Callison to the Phillies for third baseman Gene Freese. Of all the shortsighted offseason moves after Chicago’s pennant-winning season, this was probably the worst.

Freese was a slow, scattergun-armed infielder with limited range. Callison, already the subject of a 1958 documentary film by the White Sox called “The Life of a Sox Rookie” (narrated by Jack Brickhouse), had failed in a few tries to take over the left-field spot on the South Side. But in a new environment Callison blossomed, winning the 1964 All-Star Game for the National League with a three-run, ninth-inning home run. (Ironically, the AL team that year was led by Sox skipper Al Lopez!)

Freese did pay some dividends down the road, as in 1961 he was sent to the Reds in exchange for two pitchers — including Juan Pizarro, who became a two-time All-Star. Freese returned to the Sox for parts of the 1965 and 1966 seasons.

The Sox, meanwhile, realized the mistake they had made and tried to reacquire Callison from Philadelphia before the start of the 1962 season — without success. He’d play 10 seasons with the Phillies, accumulating five years in double figures for triples, eight seasons with 10 or more home runs and four years with at least 78 RBIs.


1996

A culmination of misunderstandings and pettiness saw pitcher Alex Fernandez sign a free agent deal with Florida.

White Sox ownership felt Fernandez was going to remain contractually bound to them for another season, but that belief was torpedoed when the players’ union and the owners agreed to give players service time for games missed in 1994 because of the labor impasse. Fernandez became a free agent, and the Sox hastily made a late offer that was rebuffed.

Fernandez had won 79 games in four full and three partial seasons with the White Sox. Without him to anchor the rotation, the Sox were forced to try to fill the void.

The choice to do so — Jamie Navarro — was a complete disaster.


2004

White Sox GM Ken Williams signed oft-injured Jermaine Dye to a free agent deal. The outfielder got a last-minute offer that topped what Williams promised, but Dye had made an oral agreement with the White Sox and opted to honor his word.

That turned out to be a fortunate decision for the White Sox; Dye would prove to be perhaps the best signing in franchise history, as he helped lead the club to a World Series championship in 2005 as the Series MVP. That year, Dye hit 31 home runs with 86 RBIs. Then in 2006 he’d have an even greater campaign, blasting 44 home runs and driving in 120 runs. In five seasons with the Sox, J.D. averaged 33 home runs and 92 RBIs.

On the same day Williams added punch to the lineup, he fortified his bullpen with free agent pitcher Dustin Hermanson. Hermanson would be spectacular in the first half of the 2005 championship season, before back issues limited him in the second half. He finished 2005 with 34 saves and a 2.04 ERA — both career bests.


2011

Franchise icon and presumed White Sox lifer Mark Buehrle bolted for Ozzie Guillén’s Marlins, signing a four-year deal. Buehrle wanted to stay in Chicago, but the front office chose to extend the younger but far less proven John Danks.

From 2012 forward, Buehrle was paid $55 million over the final four seasons of his career in Miami and Toronto, notching 11.1 WAR and a 3.77 ERA/107 ERA+ — a touch pricey, but overall a fair value. Danks, over his final five seasons, was paid $62 million for 0.6 WAR, a 4.92 ERA and 81 ERA+ — making it possibly the worst contract extension in White Sox history.


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