White Sox

Remember Centralia 1941, Du Sable 1954?

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Remember Centralia 1941, Du Sable 1954?

Jim Brown always believed that his 1954 Du Sable team was one of the best ever produced in Illinois and surely was destined to win the state championship with a lineup featuring Paxton Lumpkin, Sweet Charlie Brown and Shellie McMillon. But the Panthers lost to Mount Vernon in one of the most controversial state finals in history.

Arthur Trout's celebrated Wonder Five was heavily favored to win the 1941 state title. But the Orphans, led by Dike Eddleman, Jack Klosterman, Bill Castleman, Harold Wesner and Bob Michael lost to Morton of Cicero and Chet Strumillo 30-29 in the state semifinals and settled for third place and a 44-2 record.

They were two of the outstanding teams that fell short of expectations. They received more recognition for losing than many other teams did for winning state championships. Who remembers Mount Vernon's 1954 team? Or Morton's 1941 team?

Du Sable 1954, Centralia 1941, Farragut 1955, Collinsville 1957 and Paris 1942 are five of the best teams ever produced in Illinois--and none of them won the state title. They will forever be remembered as great teams with great players that didn't bring home the biggest trophy of all.

Du Sable had qualified for the Sweet Sixteen in 1953 under coach Arthur Scher but lost to eventual state champion La Grange and Ted Caiazza 85-68 in the first round, finishing with a 27-3 record.

In 1954, new coach Jim Brown greeted three returning standouts--Paxton Lumpkin, Sweet Charlie Brown and Shellie McMillon. They joined Karl Dennis and McKinley Cowsen to form a devastating offense that averaged 95 shots and 82.8 points per game in winning their first 31 games and overwhelming Bowen, Quincy and Edwardsville in the first three games of the tournament. But the Panthers lost to Mount Vernon 76-70 in the final.

McMillon, who later played at Bradley, was whistled for three early fouls. Lumpkin twice was called for charging after making baskets. One of the officials, John Fraser of Alton, called traveling on Brown after he had converted three long jumpers. Lumpkin, Brown and Dennis fouled out in the closing minutes.

"He (Fraser) turned the game around," Jim Brown said. "In the last three minutes, he called key fouls and took the game over. The other official (Joe Przada of Belleville) was fair. Sure, we made mistakes. We didn't protect the key. Don Richards (25 points) surprised us. We probably should have called off the press earlier rather than foul. But I still believe the game was taken away from us."

"It's not how many fouls you call (Du Sable committed 19, Mount Vernon 12) but when you call them," Sweet Charlie Brown said. "I had been making the same move throughout the season and the tournament. I planted both feet when I caught the ball, then took a step as a launching pad for shooting. It was called traveling in that circumstance."

A few years later, as recounted in "Glory Days: Legends of Illinois High School Basketball," Fraser was convicted of fixing games and banned from officiating in the Missouri Valley Conference. It prompted Brown to do some research of his own, to confirm his suspicions that the championship game had been rigged.

"I wanted to get a copy of the film of the state final but I was told that the last three minutes were deleted," he said. "To this day, I can't get a copy of the film.

"We were 17 and 18-year-old kids playing a game and competing and trying to find out who was the best. We were out to prove our superiority, like soldiers taking a hill."

Centralia was the scourge of the Deep South in 1940-41 and Dike Eddleman, a junior, was building a reputation as one of the greatest athletes in state history. The Orphans swept past Paris and Carbondale but lost to Morton by one point in the semifinals. Morton went on to win the state title.

The following year, it was Paris' turn to suffer the same fate. Coach Ernie Eveland's team, led by Nate Middleton, won 39 games in a row before losing to Centralia and Eddleman 35-33 in the state final. Eddleman scored 16 points to lead a late comeback that stunned Paris.

Centralia rallied from a 13-point deficit in the last six minutes to stun Paris. Eddleman picked up a loose ball and scored the winning basket at the buzzer. Even after competing in the Rose Bowl, the Final Four, the Olympics and the NBA, he always considered the victory over Paris in 1942 to be his greatest thrill in sports.

As Centralia had done the previous year, Paris came back to win the 1943 state title. With Dick Foley, Dave Humerickhouse and Max Norman returning from the 1942 squad and joining Gordon Taylor, Paris capped a 36-2 season by beating Moline.

"That was devastating," Norman said about Paris' loss to Centralia in the 1942 state final. "We thought we would be the first unbeaten state champion. It broke us up. You don't forget things like that, even 50 years later. I recall 1942 for losing almost as much as I recall 1943 for winning. To this day, I think 1942 was a better team than 1943."

But Paris didn't blow the lead in 1943. The Tigers got past Salem and All-Stater Roy Gatewood and 6-foot-7, 230-pound Dean White by a 53-50 margin in the semifinals despite Gatewood's 22 points, then prevailed over Moline 46-37 in the final.

Vergil Fletcher won two state championships and 792 games at Collinsville but the one that got away was the 1957 final when his unbeaten and top-ranked team had its 34-game winning streak snapped by Herrin 45-42 in the state final. The Kahoks were led by Terry Bethel and Thom Jackson. Herrin was led by John Tidwell.

In the final, Bethel, who was named to Parade magazine's All-America team with Jerry Lucas, picked up three fouls in the first five minutes and was forced to sit down. The Kahoks shot only 17-of-47 and Fletcher said it was one of the most disappointing losses of his career.

"Nobody will let the 1957 team die," Bethel said. "To them, there never will be a team like 1957, not even 1961."

Fletcher's 1961 team, led by Bogie Redmon and Fred Riddle, went 32-0 and is generally regarded among the top five teams in state history. After edging Centralia 66-64 in the supersectional in a duel of the state's two top-rated teams, Collinsville went to crush its last three opponents by margins of 23, 37 and 34 points.

In 1995, William "Wolf" Nelson was convinced that his Farragut team, featuring future NBA star Kevin Garnett, Ronnie Fields and Michael Wright, was destined to add to the Chicago Public League's legacy of outstanding state champions. But the Admirals were upset by Thornton in the state quarterfinals. Garnett was distraught after the game and has always said it was one of the most disappointing losses of his career.

At the end of the regular season, Farragut was 23-1 and rated No. 1 in the state. Peoria Manual was 24-2 and rated No. 2. Thornton was 22-1 and rated No. 5. In the Public League final, Farragut ousted Carver and Nick Irvin 71-62 but lost to Thornton and Melvin Ely, Erik Herring, Chauncey Jones and James Johnson 46-43 in the state quarterfinals. Thornton went on to lose to Peoria Manual in the state final.

White Sox Team of the Future: Second base

White Sox Team of the Future: Second base

What will the next championship-contending White Sox team look like?

That's what we're setting out to determine (or at least make a guess at) this month. Ten members of our White Sox content team here at NBC Sports Chicago put our heads together to try to project what each position on the diamond would look like in one, two, three years. Basically, we posed the question: What will the White Sox starting lineup be the next time they're capable of playing in the World Series?

That question can have a bunch of different answers, too. We didn't limit ourselves to players currently a part of the organization. Think the White Sox are gonna make a big free-agent addition? Vote for that player. Think the White Sox are gonna pull off a huge trade? Vote for that player. We wanted to see some creativity.

A first-round draft pick isn't assured to rocket through the farm system. Jake Burger, the White Sox first-round pick in 2017, hasn't played above Class A Kannapolis, thanks in part to a pair of Achilles tears last year. Zack Collins has spent two and a half years in the White Sox system after they spent a first-round pick on him in 2016. Carson Fulmer, the first-round pick in 2015, did move quickly through the system, but his long-term major league future is a question mark after he struggled mightily at the big league and Triple-A levels in 2018.

Nick Madrigal might be different.

In fewer than 40 games as a pro after the White Sox used the No. 4 pick on him last summer, Madrigal played at three different levels and showed what made team brass call him "the best all-around player in college baseball." It's why he's our second baseman of the future.

Madrigal has more than a couple things going for him. He's touted as a Gold Glove type defender on the middle infield. He doesn't strike out, like at all, doing so just five times in 173 minor league plate appearances. He reaches base often (a .353 on-base percentage) and hits for a high average (.303 batting average). He has plenty of experience playing winning baseball, earning a College World Series championship with his Oregon State teammates in 2018.

All that makes his future not only look bright but makes his future look near.

The White Sox, of course, aren't putting a timeline on when Madrigal could reach the majors. They don't do that with any of their prized prospects. But Madrigal seems to be on the fast track, whether that's just because he was advanced from playing high-level college ball for so long or because he's just really good. He's likely to play at the Double-A level in 2019, and if he succeeds there, who knows? Rick Hahn always says the good ones have a way of changing the team's plans. Could Madrigal rapidly reach the bigs and help the rebuilding White Sox transition from rebuilding to contending in the next year or two?

Regardless of when he arrives, the White Sox are obviously high on Madrigal's abilities. The question is which position he'll be playing when he gets to the South Side. The good news for the White Sox is that Madrigal brings versatility on the infield. He spent time at second and short at Oregon State. He almost exclusively played second base in the minors last season.

“I’ve worked on different positions throughout my life in the infield,” Madrigal said when meeting with reporters in September. “When my dad hit me ground balls, I made sure to take them from both sides of the bag, just to make sure I had that in my back pocket. I’ve played a lot of shortstop my whole life.

“When I was really young I caught, so I feel like I’ve played almost every position on the field and I feel comfortable doing that.”

Last time he caught, he was 11., so let's focus on the middle infield. The White Sox are talking about moving current second baseman Yoan Moncada over to third, not necessary because Madrigal is on the way, but that's part of it. Of course, if Manny Machado picks the White Sox, the entire infield alignment could be thrown into disarray.

But Madrigal seems to have the stuff to be the second baseman of the future. The question then becomes how quick can he get here?

Other vote-getters

Yoan Moncada. Moncada is obviously the second baseman of the present, and the guy who isn't too far removed from being the No. 1 prospect in baseball is very much a part of the White Sox long-term plans. Fans might have soured on his potential after his 217 strikeouts last season, but the White Sox see it as a step in his path to big league stardom. Where that will be, though, is not set in stone. As mentioned, the team has discussed moving him to third base, in part because Madrigal is on the way and could provide an elite glove at second. Moncada made 21 errors at second last season. Should Machado arrive on the South Side, however, Moncada might get the opportunity to stay at second. Or he might go to third anyway. Or he might stay at second if the White Sox don't get Machado. They're undecided.

Starlin Castro. Here's creativity in action. One of our voters sees the second baseman of the future arriving as a free agent after either the 2019 or 2020 season (he's got an option for 2020). Currently a Miami Marlin, Castro's been a Cub and a New York Yankee, too. He's already logged nine big league seasons and has done so to the tune of a career .281/.321/.411 slash line. That might not leap off the screen, but considering the White Sox could be loaded elsewhere on the diamond, Castro could be a nice piece to finish off the lineup, if need be. He's only two years removed from a career-best .792 OPS and his fourth All-Star appearance. Is Castro at the top of folks' free-agent wish lists? Probably not. But he certainly could be an under-the-radar move that helps complete a contending roster.

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Ian Clarkin rides the Red Line again as Cubs claim former White Sox prospect for second time this offseason

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Ian Clarkin rides the Red Line again as Cubs claim former White Sox prospect for second time this offseason

Dear Ian,

The balance in your Ventra transit account for your card is low — be sure to load more value soon to keep riding.

Ian Clarkin just took another metaphorical trip on the Red Line.

The one-time (two-time?) White Sox pitching prospect was claimed on waivers by the Cubs for the second time this offseason, his fourth stint on a Chicago baseball roster since November.

Clarkin, acquired by the White Sox in the seven-player swap with the New York Yankees in the summer of 2017, was designated for assignment by the South Siders early this offseason. The Cubs claimed him, then tried to get him off their 40-man roster via the waiver process. No luck. The White Sox picked him back up. Then they DFA'd him again to make room on the 40-man roster for the recently signed Kelvin Herrera. And now the Cubs have claimed him. Again.

The Cubs' 40-man roster sits at 39. Will they once more try to get Clarkin to Triple-A Iowa through waivers? Maybe. But the White Sox 40-man roster is a bit more crowded than it was before, meaning Clarkin's days with the White Sox organization might finally be through.

Clarkin was once one of the White Sox highly ranked prospects, but a tough go of things at Double-A Birmingham moved him out of that category. He finished with 4.98 ERA in 68.2 innings with the Barons.

Clarkin, a few weeks away from his 24th birthday, was a first-round pick of the Yankees in 2013.

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