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Today in White Sox History: February 28

Lena leaves us, but we’ll always have his mud

Lena Blackburne Of The Chicago White Sox
Some 40 years after this picture was taken, just as Lena Blackburne’s playing career began, he found lasting fame in the mud.
Chicago Sun-Times/Chicago Daily News collection/Chicago History Museum/Getty Images


Alex Carrasquel, the majors’ first Venezuelan player, and uncle of future White Sox star Chico Carrasquel, becomes the first of more than a dozen major leaguers to desert MLB for the Mexican League.

Carrasquel had been purchased by the White Sox from Washington on January 2 and was coming off of a very strong, 1.7 WAR season out of the Senators bullpen. He would never throw a pitch for Chicago, bolting for a three-year deal as the Mexican League attempted to raid the majors.

Carrasquel was one of just a few of the contract-jumpers to return to the majors, but he pitched just three games (to a 14.73 ERA) for the 1949 White Sox.


White Sox manager Eddie Stanky appeared on the cover for Sports Illustrated, along with Cubs manager Leo Durocher. The headline read, “The Lip and The Brat Invade Chicago.”

Stanky, who played for Durocher in New York with both the Dodgers and the Giants, would have solid years in his two complete seasons as White Sox manager, almost winning the pennant in 1967. He was considered a tactical genius when it came to the game.

But his shortcomings as far as his temperament — particularly in his ability to deal with the media and some of his players — led to his undoing. He was fired 79 games into the 1968 season — replaced by the man he originally replaced, Al Lopez.


Former White Sox player and manager, Lena Blackburne, dies in Riverside, N.J. at age 81. The second baseman saw just one of his six seasons on the South Side as a regular, and he acquitted himself well: 2.5 WAR, in his only season playing second base! A decade after his playing career ended, Blackburne took over for Ray Schalk as White Sox manager during the 1928 season and guided a 32-42 club to a 40-40 finish. The 1929 season was not as kind, and was his last piloting the White Sox.

It was in retirement back home in New Jersey that Blackburne found his lasting fame and impact on the game: Lena Blackburne’s Rubbing Mud, which he discovered on the banks of the Delaware River. The mud, which today sells for $25 per pound, has been used to rub off the slippery gloss of every new baseball in the majors for seven decades.