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On this day 22 years ago, the White Sox signed the criminally-underrated Kenny Lofton.

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Today in White Sox History: February 1

A should-be Hall-of-Famer lands on the South Side

Brett Ballantini started at South Side Sox in 2018 after 20 years of writing on basketball, baseball and hockey, including time on the Blackhawks and White Sox beats. Follow him on Twitter @BrettBallantini and email your site feedback to brettballantini@yahoo.com

1914

In a story told in great detail in 2014 on site, the White Sox and New York Giants played an exhibition game in Cairo, Egypt. This stop on the 56-game World Tour ended in a 3-3 deadlock after 10 innings.

You can’t blame the players for failing to find a victor, given the arduous travel they undertook to play: After a nine-day boat trip, the traveling party spent 23 hours on train to get to Cairo, took one more short train to the suburbs, departed the hotel by car to visit the Great Pyramids, then suited up for a 2:30 p.m. game!

A crowd of 2,000 spectators paid $2.08 for a ticket at the Heliopolis Sporting Club to see the first game in Egypt in 25 years, and they did get a treat — a hard-fought game, with the White Sox players riding the Giants from the sidelines. Legendary athlete Jim Thorpe drove in all three runs for the Giants, on a solo homer.

In the end, the game was not called due to player fatigue, but darkness.


2002

The White Sox signed center fielder Kenny Lofton to a one-year, $1.25 million contract.

Truly one of the most underappreciated players in baseball history, at the time of his signing at age 34 Lofton had already accumulated 52.9 WAR in his career — legitimate Hall of Fame worthiness. But with this White Sox signing, the 11-year veteran (nine with Cleveland) embarked on a nomadic final career stage of nine teams in six years, and never more than one straight season for any one club.

For the White Sox in 2002, Lofton played a strong 93 games (.259/.348/.418 and 2.1 WAR) before getting traded to San Francisco to aid the Giants’ playoff push on July 28.

Lofton finished his career in 2007, with 68.4 WAR, 118th in MLB history. He received 3.2% support on his first and only Hall of Fame ballot in 2013 — yet another example of BBWAA writers proving their unworthiness to determine Hall of Fame elections.


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