White Sox infielders Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio appeared together on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The headline read, “Magic Up The Middle, Fox And Aparicio.”
The White Sox brought the most significant work stoppage in MLB history at the time to an end with a 7-1 win at Boston. Harold Baines doubled in Ron LeFlore in the first inning and the White Sox never trailed. Future 1983 heroes Richard Dotson and LaMarr Hoyt started and ended the game, but it was middle innings-eater Dennis Lamp who earned the win.
In the bastardized, split-season format used only in 1981 due to the strike, the White Sox were tied for first, at 1-0 — in the “true standings,” at 32-22, they were just 1 1⁄2 games behind first-place Oakland.
The odds had to be a million to one. For two of the smallest players in Major League Baseball, the impossible happened.
In the second inning of a doubleheader nightcap at Comiskey Park, Craig Grebeck and Ozzie Guillén hit back-to-back home runs off of hard-throwing Nolan Ryan. It was part of a four-run inning in a 5-1 win and a sweep of the two games.
Making matters even more incredible was that both Grebeck and Guillén pulled their shots. Craig reaching the left-field seats and Ozzie right field! It was Grebeck’s first career home run, and the only one he’d hit in 135 plate appearances in his rookie year.
With his career fading, the White Sox dealt their all-time saves leader, Bobby Thigpen, to the Phillies for pitcher José DeLeón. Thigpen saved a then-major league record 57 games in 1990 but was never the same afterwards, posting lower and lower save numbers in the years after the mark was set.
In an aggressive move that ultimately backfired, the White Sox claimed two-time All-Star Alex Ríos off of waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays. Rios was hitting .264 at the time, with 14 home runs, 62 RBIs and 1.5 WAR — but was also due $58.6 million through 2015.
Rios’ tenure with the White Sox was a mixed bag, playing poorly after being claimed in 2009, and in the ballyhooed 2011 “All-In” season (-2.5 WAR combined) but flashing the talent that got him claimed by GM Ken Williams in the first place in 2010 (3.3 WAR) and 2012 (4.8 WAR).
Rios was off to a so-so start in 2013 (1.4 WAR) before the White Sox dealt him to Texas for Leury García. The deal off-loaded more than $20 million the White Sox were on the hook for, but overall, doling Rios out $37.2 million to produce 7.0 WAR in his career on the South Side was a significant overpay.
García went on to play 10 seasons on the South Side, producing 4.4 WAR for the club.