White Sox

Willy Garcia reveled in moment by himself after first home run

Willy Garcia reveled in moment by himself after first home run

SEATTLE -- Willy Garcia didn’t initially get the kind of reaction he hoped for after hitting the first home run of his career until arriving in the clubhouse on Saturday.

Unlike his teammates, Garcia’s friends and family blew up his mobile phone late Saturday and again early Sunday with messages of congratulations, etc. The warm reception was an improvement after teammates at first offered Garcia the cold shoulder when he returned to the dugout. In what has become a customary reaction throughout baseball, White Sox players and coaches gave Garcia the silent treatment after his 401-foot homer to left field reached the third deck at Safeco Field. Garcia rolled with it and danced through the dugout to offer invisible teammates a series of high fives before players eventually broke down and celebrated with him.

“That is something players always do with the rookies,” Garcia said through an interpreter. “It was fun. I went to the dugout, and I was happy, and then they all kind of (ignored me).

“It feels very good. That was an exciting moment. Every ballplayer here wants to get his first hit and first homer, and it was a special moment.”

Manager Rick Renteria gave Garcia the lineup card and the home run ball also was retrieved. Garcia said he’d frame the lineup card and store the ball with other memorabilia he has collected over the years.

[MORE: How Jose Abreu, Rick Renteria played pivotal roles in White Sox presentation for Luis Robert

Garcia nearly hit two homers on Saturday. He finished the game with two sacrifice flies and the homer, driving in three. After the game he spent more than 15 minutes reading messages on his phone, a scene that played out again Sunday morning as friends and family who had been asleep in the Dominican Republic realized his accomplishment and reached out to the rookie outfielder.

“My phone is crazy,” Garcia said on Saturday. “Every two minutes I get another text message and calls.”

Remember That Guy: White Sox reliever Donn Pall

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Remember That Guy: White Sox reliever Donn Pall

Donn Pall was in the Comiskey Park stands for Disco Demolition. Less than ten years later, the life-long White Sox fan was on the mound, pitching at Comiskey. 

Against all odds, “The Pope” lived his dream. Remember that guy?

Donn Steven Pall was born Jan. 11, 1962 in Chicago. He pitched at Evergreen Park High School, roughly 20 minutes south of Comiskey. He didn’t make the all-conference team in high school, and he was cut as a freshman walk-on at the University of Illinois (he enrolled as a math and computer science major), but didn’t give up. He made the team as a sophomore and went 5-12 over his next two seasons at U of I.

As a senior, Pall figured things out and started to draw some attention, going 13-1 (he started 13-0). He was drafted in the 23rd round of the 1985 MLB draft, by his hometown White Sox, no less. It was a dream come true.

Pall started his professional career in 1985 as a starter in rookie ball. After going 8-11 with a 4.27 ERA for Birmingham in 1987, he thrived in winter ball in Venezuela and settled into a new role as a reliever. In 1988, he used his signature pitches — a forkball and splitter — to go along with his mid-80s fastball and his slider, and blossomed into a fine reliever at Triple-A Vancouver, posting a 2.23 ERA before getting his shot in the White Sox bullpen in August.

Pall made his MLB debut on Aug. 1, 1988 at Comiskey in the ninth inning of an eventual 10-2 defeat vs. the A's. He pitched one inning, allowing one run on two hits, with a double play and one strikeout (Tony Phillips). Coming home to pitch for the team he grew up rooting for, he quickly became a fan favorite, signing an abundance of autographs for fans and earning a nickname from broadcasters Hawk Harrelson and Tom Paciorek. He was “The Pope, Donn Pall” after Pope John Paul II. In his first taste of MLB action, Pall posted a 3.45 ERA in 17 games.

Pall became a fixture in the White Sox bullpen, pitching 50+ times in each of the next three seasons, posting ERAs of 3.31, 3.32 and 2.41. In 1989, he earned a save in each of his first two games of the season, including Opening Day — the first two saves of his MLB career. Pall’s first big league win came on April 27, 1989, when he pitched the final four frames (scoreless) of a marathon 16-inning battle in Boston. He showed he could handle either long relief or setup duties and found success even without high octane gas or big strikeout totals.

“The Pope” rebounded from a shaky 1992 (4.93 ERA) to post a 3.22 ERA in 39 appearances for the Sox in 1993, but he was designated for assignment at the end of August to make room for Iván Calderón. On Sept. 1, the Sox traded him to the Phillies for a player to be named later, who turned out to be catcher Doug Lindsey (who had a grand total of one at-bat over two games in his Sox career). While Donn was saddened to leave his hometown team, he would end up on the NL East-leading Phillies. He pitched well (2.55 ERA in eight outings) but was left off the postseason roster.

Pall signed with the Yankees for 1994 and wasn’t bad, posting a 3.60 ERA in 26 appearances, but he was released at the end of July. The next month, he did the unthinkable; he signed with the Cubs, who needed a replacement on the roster for Jose Bautista, who had an ailing elbow. Pall pitched twice for the Cubs before the strike put an end to the 1994 season.

Pall tried to reunite with the White Sox in 1995, but didn’t make the team. He spent the entire season in Triple-A Nashville and then signed with the Marlins for 1996, starting out in the minors. On June 23, he made his first big league appearance since August 1994, tossing three scoreless innings. He struggled to a 5.79 ERA in 1996 and made only two major league appearances in 1997 for the world-champion Marlins (though he was given a ring anyway).

In 1998, Pall made the final 23 appearances of his MLB career for the Marlins. He was one of the few pitchers to throw to Mike Piazza during the future Hall of Famer’s five-game stint with Florida. Pall’s final MLB appearance was Sept. 27, 1998, when he allowed one run in three innings against the Phillies. The last batter he faced was Doug Glanville, who doubled in a run but was thrown out at third to end the inning.

After retiring, Pall was a financial consultant and retirement planner. He still makes it out the ballpark for White Sox games.

Like the late Ed Farmer, Pall was a Chicago guy who had the chance to come home and pitch for his hometown White Sox. We can’t help but to root a little harder for guys like that. Pall was cut as a freshman in college, but he’s currently 15th on the White Sox all-time relief appearances list with 255. Overall, he posted a 3.63 ERA in 328 career MLB games over 10 seasons.

“The Pope” Donn Pall. You remember that guy!

Scott Podsednik's base stealing set Paul Konerko up for home runs

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USA Today

Scott Podsednik's base stealing set Paul Konerko up for home runs

The White Sox knew the first month of their 2005 schedule would be crucial because 22 of their first 28 games were against American League Central opponents.

But no one could have predicted that they’d obliterate their division en route to an unlikely 21-7 start.

After a three-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals in early May, the White Sox improved to 18-4 against their own division, an incredible pace that put them 4.5 games up on the Minnesota Twins, who weren’t exactly playing poorly.

But after a heavy divisional start, the schedule was about to flip wildly. Now the White Sox had to prove they could beat the rest of the American League. The next 25 games on the schedule were against non-AL Central opponents. In fact, other than a three-game series against the Indians in early June, 37 of their next 40 games were against non-divisional opponents.

No sweat.

Starting off in Toronto from May 6-8, the White Sox kept rolling. With Jose Contreras and Orlando Hernandez starting to pitch deeper into the games, manager Ozzie Guillen was able to keep red-hot Jon Garland in his comfortable spot deeper in the rotation. The White Sox won the first two games in Toronto, and while they may have had a reputation for winning one-run ballgames, the ’05 team was also capable of beating you by lighting up the scoreboard.

That’s what happened on Saturday, May 7, as Garland failed to get out of the sixth inning for the first time all season. It didn’t really matter because he had been spotted a 10-2 lead as the White Sox pounded Blue Jays starter Ted Lilly for six runs in just 1.2 innings. The home run list was long and included Tadahito Iguchi, Aaron Rowand, Juan Uribe and two from Paul Konerko, who hadn’t gone deep since April 19.

But it was Scott Podsednik who stole the show, as he swiped four bases in the 10-7 win, tying a White Sox single-game record.

“He’s a true leadoff guy,” Paul Konerko told the Chicago Tribune. “There aren’t many guys in the game who get on base and can change the pace of what’s going on out there. Pitchers are throwing over to first because he’s stealing bases. Pitchers are making bad pitches because they’re worried about him.”

Both of Konerko’s home runs that day came after Podsednik successfully stole both second and third base.

This was just the latest fun way in which the White Sox beat a team that season -- and they were already 23-7 on the year.

The next day on the calendar was Sunday, May 8, and Mark Buehrle was on the mound so you knew there was a good chance the White Sox could get to St. Petersburg, Fla., in time for a late dinner.

Buehrle entered that start with a 34-game streak of pitching at least six innings and the White Sox were looking for their second eight-game winning streak of the season.

Again, it was May 8.

Here’s what Guillen’s lineup looked like:

LF Scott Podsednik
SS Juan Uribe
DH Carl Everett
1B Paul Konerko
CF Aaron Rowand
RF Jermaine Dye
C A.J. Pierzynski
3B Joe Crede
2B Pedro Lopez

Anyone remember Pedro Lopez?

The White Sox-Blue Jays game from May 8, 2005 will air Monday at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. For the full White Sox Rewind schedule from the 2005 season, click here.