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Notre Dame v USC

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Today in White Sox History: February 10

The 2012 version of All-In? Sign a quarterback

On this day a dozen years ago, the White Sox inked a quarterback.
| Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
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

2002

The day after playing in a charity baseball game that benefited the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Fla., former White Sox first baseman Jim Spencer died of a heart attack at age 51.

Spencer came to the White Sox in the deal that sent Bill Melton west to the California Angels before the 1976 season. His .682 OPS as a full-time regular in 1976 looks bad, but was nearly average, at 99 OPS+. However, he was intentionally walked 19 times that season, leading the majors. (Brian Downing, Jorge Orta, Bucky Dent and Kevin Bell most often batted behind Spencer — all pretty much the same hitter besides the much weaker Dent ... so let’s presume, without going game-by-game through the misery of 1976, that most of these IBBs for Spencer occurred in front of Dent.)

In 1977, Spencer’s fortunes took a more distinctive turn. While he was just about as productive overall as 1976 (i.e, a replacement-player WAR, middling OPS), he won the second Gold Glove of his career, becoming the first-ever White Sox first baseman winner and first White Sox position player to win the fielding award in seven seasons.

And not once but twice in 1977, Spencer drove in a White Sox-record eight runs in a game.

That’s right, something that had only happened twice in the first 76 years of the franchise was equaled by Spencer in the span of six weeks!


2012

The White Sox signed former USC quarterback Mitch Mustain to a minor league contract. Mustain had gone undrafted by the NFL and failed to catch on in the Canadian Football League, leading him to pursue baseball — a sport he did not play in college and had been away from for eight years.

The righthander, said to throw as fast as 90 mph, pitched for the Bristol White Sox and Kannapolis Intimidators in 2012, relieving in 21 games with a 2-2 record and one save, 4.63 ERA, 12 strikeouts and 14 walks in 23 1⁄3 innings.

The White Sox released him after the season and Mustain then played for two seasons in the Arena Football League.


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