White Sox

Jersey Boy: How a small beachside town transformed Todd Frazier into a star

Jersey Boy: How a small beachside town transformed Todd Frazier into a star

With a knowing grin on his face, Todd Frazier worked his way around the cramped confines of the visitor’s clubhouse at Fenway Park with a large silver tin. He stopped at everybody — teammates, coaches, support staff, media relations, media members — peeling back the aluminum foil covering the container to reveal a coffee cake dusted with white powdered sugar that his mother, Joan, baked and brought up for this trip from the family’s home in Toms River, N.J.

Make no mistake, this was the best coffee cake in New Jersey, if not the world, according to Frazier. It was, quite literally, a slice of home for the White Sox third baseman who’s remained committed to his roots since he rose to national and local fame — and started signing autographs — at the age of 12. 

***

Long before he was winning a Home Run Derby or becoming the centerpiece of the White Sox offseason roster retooling, Frazier was the undersized youngest brother in a family full of athletes. His two older brothers, Charlie and Jeff — who both went on to be MLB Draft picks, Charlie in the sixth round by the Florida Marlins in 1999 and Jeff by the Detroit Tigers in the third round in 2004 — and their friends often didn’t want to pick Todd for their backyard games due to his youth and diminutive stature. 

“He was always a little guy to us,” Charlie says. “We always called him Todd the Toad because he never grew.”

There was a problem with this exclusion from baseball, football, basketball or whatever game the Fraziers would play, though. Jeff says if Todd was ever left out, he’d go in and tell his father, Charlie Frazier Sr., that his older brothers wouldn’t let him participate. 

So Charlie Frazier Sr. would come out, take the ball, and say if Todd isn’t playing, nobody’s playing. And all of a sudden, Todd would be on a team. If it was football, he’d be in the middle of the huddle urging his elder teammates to remember, hey, I’m here, and I’m going to get open. 

“I think he always had that will in him to say hey, listen, whether I’m not good enough today or tomorrow, I’m going to keep working and I’m going to prove you wrong,” Jeff says. “So it was kind of like he had no choice. He had to fight his whole way up. And it’s obviously paid off.”

The competitiveness stretched beyond the backyards and streets around Toms River. Charlie estimates he, Jeff and Todd broke “four or five” ping pong tables as kids because games would get so heated, someone inevitably would slam a corner of the table after losing a game, rendering the surface unplayable. 

Charlie and Jeff had the luxury of being the oldest kids, too, when it came to picking their favorite sports teams. Toms River is about the same distance to New York as it is to Philadelphia, so for the kids, there were decisions to be made as to which teams to root for. But there was no way the three Frazier boys were going to root for the same side. 

So Charlie and Jeff laid claim to New York’s teams — Charlie was a Yankees and Giants fan, Jeff was a Mets and Jets fan. Todd picked the Boston Red Sox as his childhood team, but when it came to the NFL, he decided to be a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan. 

“I tell him every year, have fun with that one, bro,” Jeff laughs. 

When Todd and Toms River East reached the Little League World Series, ESPN listed him at 5-foot-2, 104 pounds. The growth spurt came later, sometime around the end of middle school and the beginning of high school. When it did, Todd quickly became able to compete with his athletic siblings.

It’s hard to imagine Frazier, who will compete in his third Home Run Derby Monday night in San Diego and has the most home runs of any White Sox third baseman before the All-Star break, as an underdog. But in his family structure, that’s what he was as a kid. And it’s something he still appreciates to this day. 

“I loved every second of it,” Frazier says. “I loved everybody saying, you gotta live up to (them). I couldn’t ask for two better people to look up to and try to live up to. They were always pushing me to be better. … I thank them all the time and whatever records they had, I was trying to get those records and eventually I broke mostly all of them. I thank them every day of the week and I couldn’t ask for two better guys to look up to.”

Check out the complete story at SportsWorld.NBCSports.com.

White Sox selling special T-shirts to support Chicago coronavirus response

White Sox selling special T-shirts to support Chicago coronavirus response

Want to get a cool-looking White Sox T-shirt and support an important cause at the same time?

You're in luck.

The White Sox announced Friday that they're selling T-shirts with a pair of limited-edition designs to support the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund.

The shirts, sporting elements of the White Sox logos, the Chicago city flag and the slogan "Chicago Together," went on sale at whitesox.com/chicagotogether at 10 a.m. Friday morning.

RELATED: Eloy Jiménez makes surprise donation to workers making masks in Little Village

As the White Sox mentioned in their announcement, the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund is a collaboration with the City of Chicago, The Chicago Community Trust and United Way of Metro Chicago that disburses funds to local nonprofit organizations serving the region’s most vulnerable neighbors. In March, the White Sox and the Bulls commited $200,000 to support the fund.

NBC Sports Chicago put on the "Be Chicago" fundraiser show to support the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund. You can watch that show in its entirety right here.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.

White Sox 2005 Rewind: Small ball, Paul ball, over-the-wall ball

White Sox 2005 Rewind: Small ball, Paul ball, over-the-wall ball

If you were paying really close attention during Game 2 of the ALCS, you saw it.

One fan in the stands at U.S. Cellular Field was hoisting a sign that perfectly summed up how the White Sox scored their runs during a 99-win regular season and during a march to the World Series.

“Small ball, Paul ball, over-the-wall ball.”

Small ball was rebranded “Ozzie ball” by these White Sox, who reaped the rewards of Kenny Williams’ bold offseason trade. The general manager shipped away a productive slugger, Carlos Lee, for a speed demon on the base paths, Scott Podsednik. Lee was pretty darn good at swinging the stick. But the White Sox craved balance in their lineup, and with Podsednik’s base-stealing ability causing chaos at the top of the order, they got it and scored more runs in the first inning than any other during the 2005 season.

Paul ball, well that’s obvious. Paul Konerko was the team’s MVP in 2005. He smashed 40 homers for the second straight season and hit triple digits in RBIs for the third time in his career. He was particularly potent during the second half, helping to prevent a complete free fall out of first place with the Cleveland Indians charging in September.

And over-the-wall ball? Well, as balanced as the White Sox lineup was thanks to Podsednik’s arrival, the South Siders still hit a lot of home runs. Seven different hitters launched at least 15 dingers. Even Podsednik, who had zero of them during the regular season, got in on the power display in the playoffs, hitting one in the ALDS and a walk-off homer in the World Series.

Fast forward two nights from when that sign was lifted up on the South Side, and you saw the White Sox follow that script to a “T” in Southern California.

In the first 17.2 innings of the ALCS, the White Sox scored three measly runs. A tip of the cap to the Angels’ pitching staff, but this was not the same production from a lineup that mauled the Red Sox during the first round of the playoffs. Then A.J. Pierzynski swung, missed and ran to first base and the White Sox offense woke up. Over the course of the next five White Sox hitters to step to the plate — Joe Crede’s walk-off double to finish Game 2 and the first four batters of Game 3 — the White Sox scored four runs.

How’d they do it against John Lackey in Game 3? How do you think?

Podsednik did his thing at the top of the lineup and got on base with a leadoff hit. Then Tadahito Iguchi bunted him into scoring position ahead of Jermaine Dye’s RBI double. Paul Konerko followed with a solo homer slammed into the left-field seats — the beginning of a three-hit, three-RBI night for him — and the White Sox had a crooked number on the board. Just like that.

Small ball, Paul ball, over-the-wall ball.


Of course, this all leaves out the most important ingredient in the White Sox success that season and in this series, in particular: starting pitching. While the offense took a while to wake up in the ALCS, the pitching was on point from “go.” Jose Contreras threw 8.1 innings in Game 1. Mark Buehrle allowed just one run in nine innings in Game 2. And Jon Garland followed with the second of what would be four straight complete-game efforts by White Sox starters in this series.


Though there was more to come, with Freddy Garcia and Contreras going the distance in Games 4 and 5, through three games, White Sox starters had already turned in an impressive string of games, allowing just six runs in 26.1 innings for a 2.05 ERA.

But as good as the pitching was — and it was out-of-this-world good — the White Sox needed to get back to their run-scoring ways following the quiet offensive performances in Games 1 and 2. They did just that, and not until Game 4 of the World Series did they score fewer than five runs.

When it came to how they scored those runs moving forward, the sign didn’t lie.

Small ball? Podsednik wrecked havoc the very next night in Game 4 of the ALCS, reaching base four times (thrice via the walk), stole a pair of bases and scored two runs.

Paul ball? Konerko had more damage to do, with at least one hit in each of the next five playoff games, including an unforgettable grand slam in Game 2 of the World Series.

Over-the-wall ball? The White Sox hit three homers in the final two games of the ALCS, then six more in the World Series, including iconic shots from Konerko, Podsednik and Geoff Blum.

So there are a few hundred words on the subject. But did I really do any better with all those words than that fan did with eight?

“Small ball, Paul ball, over-the-wall ball.”

Keep reliving the White Sox march to the 2005 World Series with #SoxRewind, which features Game 4 of the ALCS, airing at 7 p.m. Friday on NBC Sports Chicago.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.