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Today in White Sox History: February 22

The sparkplug of the Winning Ugly club leaves us

Sports Contributor Archive 2019
Julio Cruz arrived in Chicago in 1983, and the team became crazy-good with him in the lineup.
Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images


The second baseman traded to the White Sox in 1983 to help propel them to 99 wins and a division title dies in Redmond, Wash.

Julio Cruz, who by any definition was the sparkplug of the Winning Ugly club, came to the White Sox from the Seattle Mariners on June 15, 1983 for Tony Bernazard, in a challenge trade of starting second basemen. The White Sox were 28-32 at the time, and had been hovering at four games under .500 for a couple of weeks; with Cruz inserted into the lineup, the club won six of seven and nine of 11. With Cruz on the club, the White Sox would finish 1983 at 71-31 (69-30 in games Cruz played in). And the wins were no mere coincidence: In his 99 games with the White Sox, Cruz had seven game-winning hits.

Cruz even scored the winning run that clinched the division for the 1983 White Sox — against his former team, the Mariners. And in the 1983 ALCS loss to the Baltimore Orioles, Cruz stepped up his offense and was one of the few White Sox players to hit well in the series: .800 OPS, with two steals.

Cruz returned to the White Sox in 1984 and had another incredible season defensively, providing 2.6 WAR overall in what was a very disappointing year for the team. On offense, however, a turf toe injury was slowing “Juice” down; Cruz would undergo three surgeries during his career with the White Sox, never solving the issue. Cruz was reduced to a part-time player, with his final game in the majors as a ninth-inning defensive replacement in a 3-1 win on Aug. 31, 1985.

Though playing in just 414 games for the White Sox, he ranks 24th all-time on the club with 5.7 defensive WAR, and fifth among second basemen.