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View Full Version : Franchise saving seasons....


tony1972
05-27-2008, 04:47 PM
These are seasons that turned the fortunes of the Sox around..not winning percentage, etc...not making the playoffs...but seasons where the Sox were on the brink of obsurity...and the one season turned the franchise around (for a few years at least) at the ticket window, in popularity, on TV, etc.

These don't necessarily include playoff years...but years where the fans came back and stayed for a while..

To me, two big seasons that come to mind are 1977 and 1990 (both the Sox missed the playoffs)

1977 - in 1976 the Sox drew less than a million...talk was starting again of them leaving Chicago, etc. The Southide Hit Men that year won 90 games..but bought the fans back and the team rivaled the Cubs for a few years after that season.

1990 - The team went from last place (1989) to winning 94 games the next year (1990). For the first time in 7 years the team drew 2 million...it was the last year of the old ballpark...Frank Thomas made his debut, etc. After this season the Sox were one of the biggest draws in baseball until the 94 strike.

Some honorable mentions might be 1972 (Dick Allen) and 2000 (the team that year saw the franchise semi-recover from the disasters of the 94 strike and the 97 White Flag trades.......

TDog
05-27-2008, 04:51 PM
These are seasons that turned the fortunes of the Sox around..not winning percentage, etc...not making the playoffs...but seasons where the Sox were on the brink of obsurity...and the one season turned the franchise around (for a few years at least) at the ticket window, in popularity, on TV, etc.

These don't necessarily include playoff years...but years where the fans came back and stayed for a while..

To me, two big seasons that come to mind are 1977 and 1990 (both the Sox missed the playoffs)

1977 - in 1976 the Sox drew less than a million...talk was starting again of them leaving Chicago, etc. The Southide Hit Men that year won 90 games..but bought the fans back and the team rivaled the Cubs for a few years after that season.

1990 - The team went from last place (1989) to winning 94 games the next year (1990). For the first time in 7 years the team drew 2 million...it was the last year of the old ballpark...Frank Thomas made his debut, etc. After this season the Sox were one of the biggest draws in baseball until the 94 strike.

Some honorable mentions might be 1972 (Dick Allen) and 2000 (the team that year saw the franchise semi-recover from the disasters of the 94 strike and the 97 White Flag trades.......

I would have put 1972 on the top of the list, and I don't even incorporate 1972 into my user name.

102605
05-27-2008, 04:53 PM
2005?

Andy T Clown
05-27-2008, 04:54 PM
1983?

tony1972
05-27-2008, 04:55 PM
I would have put 1972 on the top of the list, and I don't even incorporate 1972 into my user name.

that's the year I was born...so I don't remember seeing too many games from the womb...:scratch:

asindc
05-27-2008, 04:57 PM
1977 as far as I'm concerned. The fan base before that year was getting very apathetic. Though they faded down the stretch, it was the most fun I had rooting for the Sox in a non-playoff year.

turners56
05-27-2008, 05:00 PM
2005?

I don't think that saved our franchise. But it certainly turned it around.

TomBradley72
05-27-2008, 05:05 PM
1981 deserves a mention....the new ownership really took the town and the league by storm after a string of very mediocre seasons (1978-1980). If it wasn't for the strike...that team would have really made some noise.

There must have been an early 1950's season that falls into this category. They had really fallen into obscurity for the previous three decades (20's,30's,40's).

tony1972
05-27-2008, 05:06 PM
1981 deserves a mention....the new ownership really took the town and the league by storm after a string of very mediocre seasons (1978-1980). If it wasn't for the strike...that team would have really made some noise.

There must have been an early 1950's season that falls into this category. They had really fallen into obscurity for the previous three decades (20's,30's,40's).

I think 1953 was the beginning of the Go Go Sox and the 15 plus consecutive years of winning seasons..

TDog
05-27-2008, 05:11 PM
that's the year I was born...so I don't remember seeing too many games from the womb...:scratch:

If you had studied 1972 in your history classes, you would have learned that after losing 106 games in 1970, at a time when the Cubs were contending, the White Sox in 1972 had the third-best record in baseball, finishing 5.5 games behind the eventually World Series champion A's after a real division race that had the White Sox pulling ahead in August. Dick Allen had the most incredible season any player has ever had for a White Sox contender, making the White Sox fashionable again, making people forget about the season-opening strike that upset fans. Harry Caray used to take credit for saving the Sox franchise from the depths of 1970, but it was a group of loveable winners (they came so close after being so far down) that saved the franchise.

The 1977 season was fun while it lasted, but by August, many fans figured it would be another five years before the Sox would be back. There were the looming free-agent defections and the pattern of falling short in 1967 and 1972, without contending in between. As it turned out, it would be 1983.

alsoxfan
05-27-2008, 05:17 PM
For me, 2000 was the big turn around year for the franchise (though not necessarily the team, the seeds were planted a few years earlier).

1998 and 1999 were infamous for comments about the lack of attendance as well as the start of 2000. I remember the sox being near or maybe even below the season attendance that drastically reduced the rent on Comiskey for one of those years (I think '99). The only real benefit was that "upgrading" seats was ridiculously easy, but the stadium was sadly empty.

From the beginning of 2000 to the playoffs, the change in the electricity in the building was dramatic. Before the first game of the season, I would never have expected Norm Van Lear to be dancing on a bleacher bench while eating a hot dog during the first game of the playoffs.

WisSoxFan
05-27-2008, 05:24 PM
I've got to agree with 1972. It was the year I started following the Sox (I was 8). I don't recall the terrible couple of seasons prior to '72, but that '72 team had me with my little ears pressed to the radio on a nightly basis. Oh to be 8 again. :smile:

LITTLE NELL
05-27-2008, 05:31 PM
I think 1953 was the beginning of the Go Go Sox and the 15 plus consecutive years of winning seasons..
1951 was the start of the Go-Go Sox and it was 17 straight winning seasons.

LITTLE NELL
05-27-2008, 05:42 PM
1971 was a key year in the franchise history. In 1970 the Sox had their worst year going 56-106. Roland Hemond and Chuck Tanner turned the team around as they went 79-83, an improvement of 23 games. 1971 was also the 1st year that Harry Caray broadcast White Sox games and helped renew interest in the Sox. After 3 horrible years I thought 71 at the time was a franchise saver.

TDog
05-27-2008, 06:12 PM
1971 was a key year in the franchise history. In 1970 the Sox had their worst year going 56-106. Roland Hemond and Chuck Tanner turned the team around as they went 79-83, an improvement of 23 games. 1971 was also the 1st year that Harry Caray broadcast White Sox games and helped renew interest in the Sox. After 3 horrible years I thought 71 at the time was a franchise saver.

They won the opening day doubleheader in Oakland, won the home opener, which drew about three times as many fans as any game in 1970 did, lost their next seven and played .500 ball thereafter. Wilbur Wood became a starter and a 20-game winner and finshed the season with a 1.91 ERA. It was the turning point in the franchise -- a 23-game improvement. It brought White Sox fans back to their team, and it helped that Chicago was getting tired of the Cubs act,. But 1972 got the city excited about the White Sox. In August 1972, I heard a Cubs radio pregame show mostly devoted to discussing the resurgence of the White Sox.

Medford Bobby
05-27-2008, 06:36 PM
1977 as far as I'm concerned. The fan base before that year was getting very apathetic. Though they faded down the stretch, it was the most fun I had rooting for the Sox in a non-playoff year.
The carry over of 1977 was short lived into 1978. Once the team traded off Bobby Bonds after about 27 games, that season was already over. Sadly it was the beginning of the end of the Veeck era. Bill knew that he could not have money for free agents or even rebuilding up the farm system. We had some promising arms coming up in 1979, but already ownership change was sooner than later.......:o:

TommyJohn
05-27-2008, 07:28 PM
1972 was a great year that brought back fans, but consider this: by 1975,
Dick Allen was gone, the fans stayed away (770,800 was the attendance)
and the team was on the verge of bankruptcy. They came precipitously
close to moving to Seattle, of course. So I think it can be debated whether
1972 was a "franchise saving" year.

1977 would be a better choice, mainly because one can argue that the
1 million plus attendance for the next three years was due in large part
to the 1977 hangover and the hopes that it generated.

LongLiveFisk
05-27-2008, 08:00 PM
I always think of 1990 because the Sox were absolutely dismal from '86 to '89 and some of us fans were starting to wonder if things would ever get better at that point. Don't forget the how close the Sox were to leaving Chicago (1988?)...so 1990 was a Godsend. Coming up: some contending teams, Frank Thomas, Robin Ventura, etc. It just seemed like with that '90 team, a sense of pride was returning to the South Side. It was really magical.

TDog
05-27-2008, 08:25 PM
1972 was a great year that brought back fans, but consider this: by 1975,
Dick Allen was gone, the fans stayed away (770,800 was the attendance)
and the team was on the verge of bankruptcy. They came precipitously
close to moving to Seattle, of course. So I think it can be debated whether
1972 was a "franchise saving" year.

1977 would be a better choice, mainly because one can argue that the
1 million plus attendance for the next three years was due in large part
to the 1977 hangover and the hopes that it generated.

It wasn't long after the 1977 season that Bill Veeck sold the White Sox, and his first choice was an out-of-towner whose intentions were to move the franchise. The White Sox were close to being bankrupt in the late 1970s just as they were at the end of the 1960s and the middle of the 1970s. The 1977 season held no promise for the future. Zisk and Gamble were "rented" and having career seasons, and the fans knew they wouldn't be back. The pitching staff held no promise, only pitching three shutouts all season. What killed the White Sox in the first half of the decade was injuries first to Carlos May and then, most devastatingly to Dick Allen, the player Chuck Tanner credits with saving the franchise.

At the time, we knew 1977 was a fluke, that Jim Spencer, of all people had two eight-RBI games that season. We knew that when players were being traded, it had more to do with money than talent. When most deals the Sox made were for players we had never heard of AND cash, it was hard to miss. Even Jim Spencer was traded for a minor leaguer, a fringe pitcher who would be released before the beginning of the next season and cash.

I understand 1977 was fun. The White Sox finished third 13 games out, but it was fun. It doesn't compare to 1972.

Medford Bobby
05-27-2008, 08:26 PM
I always think of 1990 because the Sox were absolutely dismal from '86 to '89 and some of us fans were starting to wonder if things would ever get better at that point. Don't forget the how close the Sox were to leaving Chicago (1988?)...so 1990 was a Godsend. Coming up: some contending teams, Frank Thomas, Robin Ventura, etc. It just seemed like with that '90 team, a sense of pride was returning to the South Side. It was really magical.
1990 has that soft spot for me as a Sox special team, but 1990 was a huge bonus year for the Sox ownership as they were already pushing the new ball park. Many thought the Sox were gonna continue with their 1990 success in 1991 but that did not happen. After 1991 there were many changes to the club including a new manager. 1993 was a by product of that change. :smile:

October26
05-27-2008, 08:56 PM
I've got to agree with 1972. It was the year I started following the Sox (I was 8). I don't recall the terrible couple of seasons prior to '72, but that '72 team had me with my little ears pressed to the radio on a nightly basis. Oh to be 8 again. :smile:

I agree with you on 1972. And oh to be 8 again when my only worry was whether at bedtime I could hide my transistor radio under my pillow and listen to White Sox games!

TomBradley72
05-27-2008, 09:32 PM
What killed the White Sox in the first half of the decade was injuries first to Carlos May and then, most devastatingly to Dick Allen, the player Chuck Tanner credits with saving the franchise.


Melton's back injury had a huge impact. If he had been healthy in '72 they might have won it.

Lip Man 1
05-27-2008, 10:41 PM
1972 was a "franchise saving" year because without it, and Dick and Roland and Chuck, the White Sox would have been in Milwaukee, Denver, New Orleans or parts unknown.

Think about this folks...the Sox had 17 straight winning seasons yet by the mid 60's couldn't draw fans to their own park in the middle of the single greatest pennant race in MLB history (1967). The race unrest and general turmoil of the mid 60's caused many fans to think again about going to Comiskey Park.

Now by 1970, Milwaukee was ACTIVELY looking to take the Sox franchise (led by an investor named Bud Selig). The White Sox in fact, played 10 or 12 "home" games there for a few years. Art Allyn was testing the Milwaukee market.

The White Sox had the three worst consecutive seasons in franchise history in 68, 69 and 70. It was capped off by a record setting 106 loss season in 1970.

For 1970 they drew less then 500,000 people FOR THE SEASON.

They had one foot in the grave and the other foot in another market.

Things were so bad that for the 1971 season the Sox had to "air" their games on the radio on two small, suburban stations based in Evanston and LaGrange. No mainstream media radio station would touch them. Plus Allyn had no money to repair Comiskey Park.

Into that cesspool walked Roland and Chuck and they did great things in 1971, but they still needed the drawing card...enter Dick Allen and suddenly the Sox were over a million and the franchise (temporarily) was "saved."

The reason they couldn't keep it going was because John Allyn made some bad business decisions which drained him of his resources and he couldn't invest in the team. Everyone knows the dissention in the clubhouse and the stupidity showed by V.P. Stu Holcomb in 1973, which by July, forced Roland and Chuck to go to Allyn and say point blank, it's either him or us. Fortunately Allyn knew who was buttering his bread and forced out Holcomb.

But the downfall of the franchise in the early 70's was because Allyn had no money to spend on the team.

Lip

TDog
05-28-2008, 01:49 AM
Melton's back injury had a huge impact. If he had been healthy in '72 they might have won it.

One can only speculate how much better the White Sox would have been in 1972 with a healthy Bill Melton, a year after he led the American League in home runs.

When Melton came back in 1973, the Sox got off to a great start, but it was injuries killed the season. Allen and May came back in 1974, but the Allen deserted the team, which limped to an 80-win, 80-loss, 3-tie season. The Sox year should have been 1973. Wilbur Wood had 18 wins at the All-Star break.

Lip is right about the Sox franchise being close to dead before 1972. In 1971, you could only get the Sox on suburban FM radio stations in an age when many people didn't have FM radios in their cars.

Another note about how bad 1970 was. The 496,000 attendance figure was for 83 home games. Two games against the Royals were moved to Chicago after they were rained out in Kansas City, giving the Sox an extra date (a doubleheader) on the schedule.

Nellie_Fox
05-28-2008, 01:56 AM
that's the year I was born...so I don't remember seeing too many games from the womb...:scratch:Mom should have installed a glass navel.

I missed (thank heavens) the 69 and 70 seasons due to being in the Army. The 71 season being on radio in LaGrange worked out okay for me, since I lived in LaGrange.

I always carefully read the Lip analyses on these things, because I'm going only on faulty memory. Lip has it nailed.

Noneck
05-28-2008, 02:10 AM
I always carefully read the Lip analyses on these things, because I'm going only on faulty memory. Lip has it nailed.

I am like you, my memory goes in and out also. Lip analysis did shake my memory but I think Harry should have been mentioned along with Hemond , Tanner and Dick Allen.

Lip Man 1
05-28-2008, 04:17 PM
Noneck:

Valid point and it should be noted. However even with Harry the Sox couldn't get back to a mainstream radio media outlet until 1973.

Lip

LITTLE NELL
05-28-2008, 05:07 PM
This thread has raised an interesting question. Im a fan since the early 50s and it bothers me that we came close to losing our beloved Sox to either Milwaukee, Seattle, Denver and St. Petersburg. We all know about the St. Petersburg saga( build us a stadium or we move). What do you think has been the main reason this franchise has stuggled down through the years where things were so bad that the Sox almost moved. Im going to go with the Black Sox scandal almost destoying the franchise, owners who had little money or were afraid to spend it, and finally the perception that for years the ballpark was in a horrible neighborhood.

Lip Man 1
05-28-2008, 07:35 PM
To me the single biggest reason the Sox have had issues throughout their history has been because of money or lack of it.

That is not a slap at the owners down through the years, I'm not saying they had money and wouldn't spent it or they didn't have money in the first place, but it is a fact that in many years the Sox were under capitalized.

You need money to get talent, invest in the minor leagues, sign free agents and international players, repair the stadium and so forth.

If you don't have it (or won't spend it) every issue is magnified, every situation becomes more acute.

The Sox have never had an owner with almost unlimited cash that could basically "solve" any problem before it reached a critical situation. It has been their lot in baseball life to have to be "creative," to have to "think outside the box," to solve problems because they have just never had the straight forward money option.

Lip

BadBobbyJenks
05-28-2008, 07:51 PM
2008!

Noneck
05-28-2008, 08:07 PM
To me the single biggest reason the Sox have had issues throughout their history has been because of money or lack of it.



This is true but the "neighborhood scare" had a lot to do with it in my lifetime.

Most people on the north side were petrified to go Sox games. The only easy way to get there taking public transportation was taking the Englewood train ( Green Line) and no one wanted to walk from there to the park particularly for night games. Then there was the project sniper scare. I think these things kept a lot of people away from the park from mid 60's to late 70's.

tony1972
05-28-2008, 09:03 PM
One thing I'd like to mention (I'm veering a bit off topic here)...is despite all the moaning of how this is a Cubs town...it's so one sided, etc...this is probably the healthiest the franchise has ever been (since the Black Sox Scandal)..

Think about it (a) Sox games are broadcast almost equally as Cubs games now...whether on WGN, Comcast, WCIU, ESPN, etc. WGN has been broadcasting both teams nationally since 1990 (and actually less Cubs games due to the conversion to the CW network. The Sox have good exposure on the radio, etc.

(b) The Sox are averaging 28,000 the YEAR AFTER they LOST 90 GAMES, in April and May with crappy weather. There were years (2000) wheree we ran away with the division and couldn't even DRAW 20,000 to many games

(c) the neighborhood is improving along with the perceptions of it. The Metra will stop at 35th next year providing easy access to those who live on the Southwest Side and Southwest Suburbs (potentially tapping into a larger fan base than already exists in those areas).

(d) the perception of the ballpark has changed

I'm not saying we are now the Cubs or the Red Sox and will sell out constantly...but I compare 2004/2005/2006 to the Sox as 1984/1985 etc. was to the Cubs. The Cubs did not draw steadily until afte the mid 80's when the national exposure from the division title soldified and grew their fan base. They have consistenly drawn 2 million plus since. 2005 was the same for the White Sox...the franchise will survive a few bad seasons here and there...and I see the Sox consistently drawing 2 million plus.

ondafarm
05-28-2008, 11:15 PM
To me the single biggest reason the Sox have had issues throughout their history has been because of money or lack of it.

That is not a slap at the owners down through the years, I'm not saying they had money and wouldn't spent it or they didn't have money in the first place, but it is a fact that in many years the Sox were under capitalized.

To me the biggest reason is that the owners have been cheap. That is a slap at the owners, past and present. The Old Roman Comiskey was a smart enough businessman to move the team to Chicago and he evidently wheeled and dealed his fellow owners quite well. Well enough the White Sox were arguably the dominant team in the AL until 1920. The A's being the major competition. Had Comiskey been smart enough to pay his players well, or even league average then the Black Sox scandal would never have occurred.

Bill Veeck was a great showman and promoter, but also a bit undercapitalized. He, or his employees could spot talent, but he also aggravated more than his share of business people both times he owned the Sox.

The current owners have compared baseball fans to wrestling fans multiple times in public. I heard Reinsdorf do it and my father heard Einhorn do it. They think draining maximum money from the fans for minimum costs are the way to maximize profits. Instead, if you provide a quality product year in, year out, then people will always come for entertainment value. Baseball fans aren't suckers, they are looking to be entertained and now there are more choices than ever. In 1980 when they bought the team, it was probably the 12th most valuable sports franchise in the USA at $20 million. Today, at probably $200 million it is closer to the 40th most valuable. And yet, they'll tell you how wonderful they've been, as businessmen and for baseball.


You need money to get talent, invest in the minor leagues, sign free agents and international players, repair the stadium and so forth.


Chicago is the only large market in the ALCD. The White Sox should be winning the ALCD half the time or at least 2 years out of 5. Investing in the minors costs peanuts, the Twins do it on a shoestring as well or better than anyone. The Tigers, Twins, Royals and Yankees, among other teams, invite a significant number of former players to come to spring training each year and work with their current minor leaguers. Goose Gossage mentioned it when interviewed from San Francisco by DJ. It doesn't cost much. And if each year one extra guy gets a good mentor of a former major leaguer and can rely on his mentor to solve problems that would have kept him from the majors, then it is worth it. Would BA have had useful conversations with Rudy Law about better play in CF? Could Mike Squires give a few first base defense tips to Swisher? Why don't the White Sox do this? Because they are cheap. Minor leagues, international players and even stadium repairs are really not very expensive, but too expensive for these owners.

Lip Man 1
05-29-2008, 12:10 AM
Tony 1972:

All valid points but I would also submit that adjusted for the time period regarding attendance, the Sox were just as healthy as today back in the 1950's and early 1960's.

They would routinely draw at least a million OR draw better then the Cubs (from 51 to 67 they outdrew them every season but one), they were on WGN-TV as well as on mainstream radio, they were usually in a pennant race, had nationally known players and, this is an important point, were the dominant team in Chicago as far as fan allegiance and media coverage.

I often use the line that in that period the Cubs had Ernie Banks and a bunch of 90 loss season's, they couldn't get arrested in this town and they couldn't draw flies with three day old garbage at Wrigley Field let alone draw fans.

Lip

Lip Man 1
05-29-2008, 12:21 AM
Onda:

Not saying you are wrong, I've certainly had my differences with this ownership especially after 1984 when JR announced that he never realized how expensive "winning" was, add in the threat to move to Tampa, the labor impasse in 1994 and the White Flag Trade...HOWEVER it is not cheap to get the top international talent. I mean how much did the Mariners have to pay just for the right, to talk with Ichiro?

Didn't Boston pay 25 million just for a thirty day exclusive rights period with Matsuzaki?

I would also say that Detroit is a large market with only one club and an owner who is not afraid to spend BIG money to win.

Yes the Sox should be in a position to 'dominate' for lack of a better word, this division, having the Twins with more divisional titles in this decade then the Sox is embarrassing but it's not as simple as saying the owners don't spend enough.

Can they spend more?

From everyone I've spoken to who has some knowledge of the financial situation the answer is yes BUT it's also HOW you spend the money not automatically how much you spend.

And honestly the Sox have had things outside of their control take place. 2001 was ruined by all the injuries suffered in the second half of 2000 to the pitching staff. 2004 was ruined by injuries to Ordonez and Thomas and the Sox have had the bad fortune of some bizarre contract situations with Ordonez, Thomas, Belle ect that were complicated by injuries. Crede appears to be the latest one in that category.

Lip

ondafarm
05-29-2008, 09:01 AM
Lip,

two adjustments to my points. Getting top level international talent can be expensive. On the other hand, Iguchi was virtually a steal, and with a modicum of scouting very decent Japanese players could be had for similar costs. The Sox are currently struggling to establish a baseball camp in the Dominican Republic. Why? The DR has produced a lot of great players but has a lot of camps right now. Why not sign a deal with Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua (or even Venezuela or Colombia) and set up a first in country camp? All of those countries have produced players and there are certainly players that could be developed there. Expensive? Not hardly.

Second, I'm not arguing for just throwing money around. But there's a difference between being a skinflint and buying quality. Bringing former players to ST is not expensive but not strictly essential. But not doing it demonstrates a tightwad mentality that seems to stem from the top of this organization.