Future two-time White Sox owner Bill Veeck was born, in Chicago. Baseball’s greatest promoter presided over two of the most exciting seasons in team history, the 1959 pennant winners and 1977’s South Side Hit Men. More vilified than appreciated by baseball’s ruling class, Veeck’s career saw him also owning the (minor league) Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Browns and Cleveland. He helped bring free agency, expansion, playoffs, interleague play and the designated hitter to the majors. Today, on his 109th birthday, his wisdom still resonates.
Exactly 11 months after acquiring him from Boston as an emergency thrown-in to the December 1969 Gary Peters trade, the White Sox sent pitcher Gerry Janeski to the Washington Senators for outfielder Rick Reichardt.
Janeski wasn’t even supposed to change his Sox; originally the Red Sox sent pitcher Billy Farmer in the package for Peters. But career minor-leaguer Farmer opted to retire rather than report to Chicago, prompting Janeski to be shipped to the White Sox during Spring Training 1970.
A month into Janeski’s acquisition, it looked like a steal, as the righthander threw a complete game shutout against the Oakland A’s in just his second MLB start, on April 15. But that three-hitter was the only shutout and one of just four complete games Janeski threw for the putrid, 106-loss 1970 White Sox. Janeski ended the year without missing a start (35 in total), going 10-17 with a 4.77 ERA/4.25 FIP, 80 ERA+, and staking a claim as the second-best Sox starter behind Tommy John.
However, Janeski was never more than a filler arm, so he was shipped off to the Senators. He would win just one more game and appear in only 27 future contests in his MLB career.
This was another one of the smaller moves completed by White Sox GM Larry Himes that paid off in a major way. Himes shipped pitcher José DeLeon to the Cardinals for pitcher Ricky Horton and outfielder Lance “One Dog” Johnson. Johnson would blossom into one of the better defensive center fielders in the American League, become a solid hitter and steal 226 bases in his eight years on the South Side. He led the American League in triples for four straight seasons (1991-94).
Johnson had a 25-game hitting streak in 1992, batting .439 during that stretch, and also collected six hits in six at-bats in a game at Minnesota on Sept. 23, 1995 (three of his six hits were triples).
Johnson’s most significant defensive play came as part of Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter in Baltimore on Aug. 11, 1991. In the eighth inning, Johnson sprinted to his left and dove full-out, catching a low line drive off the bat of Chris Hoiles to preserve it.
Johnson left the White Sox after the 1995 season, signing a contract with the Mets. He remains, per 21.3 WAR, the 23rd-best position player and eighth-best outfielder in White Sox history.