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Remembering the White Sox players lost in 2022

by Joe Binder

As the calendar year comes to a close, let’s take a moment to reflect on the lives that we lost in 2022.

Here’s a list of former White Sox players who unfortunately passed away in the last 12 months.

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Julio Cruz

Born: December 2, 1954
Died: February 22, 2022 (age 67)
Played for White Sox: 1983-86

A member of the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Hall of Fame, Julio Cruz played for the Mariners from 1977-83. The second baseman was known for his speed, totaling 290 swiped bags to set Seattle’s franchise stolen base record. It was a mark that lasted years until Ichiro Suzuki eventually broke the feat in 2008.

After seven seasons on the West Coast, “the Cruzer” was traded to the White Sox on June 15, 1983, in exchange for second baseman Tony Bernazard. Providing a much-needed midseason spark, Cruz helped the Sox rattle off 99 wins en route to an AL West divisional title.

By the end of his South Side tenure, the switch-hitter batted .224/.309/.280 with six home runs, 117 RBI, and 53 stolen bases. He later returned to Seattle and had served as the team’s Spanish radio broadcast since 2003 before losing his battle with prostate cancer.

The following members of the White Sox organization from 1983 issued statements after Cruz’s passing.

“The ‘Cruzer’ was the catalyst of that 1983 Western Division championship team. When Roland Hemond acquired him that summer, the team just took off. Julio became our igniter, and his positive energy was contagious in the clubhouse, in the dugout and on the field. Sox fans will always remember him dashing across home plate with the division-clinching run. The White Sox organization sends its heartfelt condolences to Julio’s family and many friends.”

White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf

“For fans, Julio was such an important part of the White Sox and in particular the 1983 team. We traded for him to ignite the offense, which he did, and then he obviously scored the winning run when we clinched the AL West that season. He had electric ability as a player but was such a big part of those teams because of his personality. He was a caring guy and because of that had an emotional connection with his teammates on and off the field. Most of us had kept in pretty regular contact with him over the years, but this is a very sad day. He was much too young to leave us, and he will be missed.”

Former White Sox manager Tony La Russa

“Any thoughts about Julio are more about the person than the ballplayer. He was a great friend who ignited our team in 1983. That’s why we won. I remember he used to jump from the dugout floor up to the top step before each game. That was four or five steps, an athletic feat! But ultimately, it is his friendship that I will miss most.”

Hall of Fame outfielder Harold Baines

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Pete Ward

Born: July 26, 1937
Died: March 16, 2022 (age 84)
Played for White Sox: 1963-69

Born in Montreal, Pete Ward began his nine-year MLB career upon signing with the Orioles in 1958. His strong numbers at the plate carried him through the minor leagues before earning him a few dozen at-bats with Baltimore in September 1962. That offseason on January 14, 1963, he was a piece of the trade that sent Hall of Fame pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm, shortstop Ron Hansen and outfielder Dave Nicholson to the White Sox for Hall of Fame shortstop Luis Aparicio and outfielder Al Smith

Following the trade, the Sox made Ward their everyday third-baseman and he responded with the best season of his career. During his impressive 1963 stretch, Ward slashed .295/.353/.483, with 177 hits (second in the AL), 34 doubles (also second in the AL), 22 home runs, 84 RBI, and .835 OPS. His stellar rookie campaign was enough for a ninth-place finish in MVP voting and runner-up for Rookie of the Year.

After another solid season in 1964 landed him sixth on the MVP list, Ward’s production fell off drastically thereafter. A back injury can be partly to blame, as the left-handed hitter failed to bat above .250 for the rest of his Chicago tenure. He would appear in just 84 games in 1966 before playing regularly as a left fielder in 1967 and again at third base in 1968. He was eventually traded to the Yankees in December 1969 for pitcher Mickey Scott and would finish his career in the Bronx.

By the time of his retirement, Ward slashed .254/.339/.405 (776-for-3060) with 136 doubles, 98 home runs, 427 RBI, .744 OPS, and 20.2 WAR. He would remain in the Yankees organization as a minor league manager (1972-1977), coached for a season as a member of Bobby Cox’ staff in Atlanta, and then returned to coach his hometown Portland Beavers of the Pacific Coast League. Ward was also named to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, Oregon Sports Hall of Fame, and the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame.

Tommy Davis

Born: March 21, 1939
Died: April 3, 2022 (age 83)
Played for White Sox: 1968

Tommy Davis donned many uniforms during his 18-year career, playing for 10 different teams that included our beloved South Siders. Having originally considered a deal with the Yankees in 1956, Jackie Robinson convinced him to sign across town with the Dodgers instead.

The third baseman and left fielder debuted three years later for Brooklyn and posted his best numbers during a breakout 1962 campaign. In the first of two consecutive All-Star seasons, he slashed .346/.374/.535 with 27 home runs, 153 RBI, and 230 hits. Another strong season from Davis would help lead the Dodgers to a 1963 World Series title and he stayed with the club through 1966.

Beginning in 1967, Davis went on his league-wide carousel ride starting with the New York Mets. There, he hit .302/.342/.440 with 16 homers and 73 RBI. After that season, he was traded to the White Sox along with catcher Buddy Booker, pitcher Jack Fisher, and pitcher Billy Wynne in exchange for former Rookie of the Year Tommie Agee and infielder Al Weis.

Davis only played for the Sox in 1968, slashing .268/.289/.344 in 132 games. Meanwhile, both Tommie Agee and Al Weis helped the “Miracle Mets” win the 1969 World Series.

After his disappointing performance and high salary ($69,000), the White Sox didn’t protect Davis and he was selected by the Seattle Pilots in the league-wide expansion draft. He then spent time with the Astros (1969-70), Athletics (1970), Cubs (1970), Athletics (1971), Cubs (1972), Orioles (1972-75), Angels (1976), and Royals (1976).

Davis finished his career batting .294 with 153 home runs, 2,121 hits, and 1,052 RBI. He was a two-time All-Star (1962, 1963), World Series Champion (1963), two-time NL batting champion (1962, 1963), and NL RBI leader (1962).

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Joe Horlen

Born: August 14, 1937
Died: April 10, 2022 (age 84)
Played for White Sox: 1961-71

Joe Horlen started his professional career when he signed with the White Sox in 1959. He spent the next three years working his way up the minors before debuting in the second game of a September 4, 1961 doubleheader against the Twins. Funny enough, Horlen won the game in relief while wearing a numberless uniform since it was the only available road uniform. 

During the next two seasons, Horlen pitched as a spot starter and spent some more time in the minors during 1963. In 1964, he earned a place in the starting rotation and went 13–9 record with a career-best 1.88 ERA, 0.935 WHIP, 138 strikeouts, and 6.07 hits per nine innings. Another strong showing in 1967 led to Horlen earning his first and only All-Star appearance that also came with a second-place Cy Young Award finish and fourth-place standing in AL MVP voting.

During spring training in 1972, the White Sox decided to go their separate ways and released Horlen. He finished his South Side career with a 113-113 record, 3.11 ERA (691 ER/2002.0 IP), 1007 strikeouts, 110 ERA+, 3.31 FIP, and 1.190 WHIP. Horlen later signed with Oakland and pitched mostly in relief during the Athletics’ World Series run.

Bob Locker

Born: March 15, 1938
Died: August 15, 2022 (age 84)
Played for White Sox: 1965-69

Though he pitched for five different clubs from 1965 to 1975, Bob Locker never made one start. The reliever began his professional career in 1960 and spent three seasons in the minors while also serving a two-year military stint in between.

On April 14, 1965, Locker debuted with the White Sox out of the bullpen and became one of the team’s go-to pitchers during his five-year tenure. Before the Sox traded him to the Seattle Pilots for pitcher Gary Bell, Locker went 28-22 with a 2.68 ERA (126 ER/423.1 IP), 6.3 K/9, 1.084 WHIP, and 2.71 FIP.

Following his time with Seattle, the righty reliever played for the Brewers (1970), Athletics (1970-72), and Cubs (1973, 1975). His biggest accomplishment undoubtedly came with Oakland when he made an appearance in the ’72 World Series championship run.

Ken Frailing

Born: January 19, 1948
Died: August 26, 2022 (age 74)
Played for White Sox: 1972-73

Ken Frailing didn’t have a long stint in the major leagues, but he became a familiar name in Chicago. The Madison, Wisconsin native played for the White Sox from 1972-73 and then the Cubs from 1974-76.

Frailing got his start after the South Siders drafted him in the fifth round of the 1966 MLB Draft. The southpaw spent seven seasons in the White Sox farm system before finally getting his shot at the tail-end of the 1972 season. The lefty made four appearances to close out the year and 10 more the following season, going 1-0 with a 2.11 ERA (5 ER/21.1 IP) in that span.

Thanks to these numbers and a primarily strong 1973 minor league campaign that featured a 2.86 ERA, Frailing caught the eye of the crosstown rivals. On December 11, 1973, the lefty reliever was traded to the North Side along with right-hander Steve Stone, catcher Steve Swisher, and left-hander Jim Kremmel for third baseman Ron Santo.

Frailing didn’t really impress with the Cubs, first serving as a swingman before exclusively handling relief duties. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury forced his career to end prematurely with his last MLB appearance coming on June 6, 1976.

Marv Staehle

Born: March 13, 1942
Died: September 30, 2022 (age 80)
Played for White Sox: 1964-67

Born in Oak Park, Illinois, Marv Staehle attended Western Illinois University and signed with his hometown Chicago White Sox. He saw great success at the minor league level as a hitter but just couldn’t seem to translate that to the highest level.

From 1964-67, Staehle only appeared in 53 games for the White Sox. He batted .160/.236/.173 with one double and five runs batted in during that span. Staehle would later join the Montreal Expos, where he played his only full MLB season in 1970 as a platoon second baseman. His last big league appearance came on June 13, 1971, ending his 185-game career.

Before his passing, Staehle did a great interview with Bill Traughber of MiLB.com where he reflected on his professional career. The 2016 article can be read here.

Tom Flanigan

Born: September 6, 1934
Died: December 8, 2022 (age 88)
Played for White Sox: 1954

Tom Flanigan played in just three Major League games during his seven-year professional career. The first two came in 1954 with the White Sox when he was just 19 years old. Flanigan entered in relief and allowed no runs on one hit in 1.2 innings pitched.

He went on the spend the rest of the ’54 season in the minors and stayed there through 1957. Later that winter, St. Louis selected him in the Rule 5 draft and he began the 1958 season on their roster. It was in April of that year when he made his last big league appearance, going one inning in relief with two hits and one run.

Would you like to share a memory of an aforementioned player or someone close to you who we lost in 2022? Please use the comment section below!

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Featured Photo: Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images

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