White Sox

6 eye-popping White Sox cards in honor of Topps' release day

topps_card_packs.jpg
Kamka

6 eye-popping White Sox cards in honor of Topps' release day

I have been collecting cards as long as I can remember.

Some of my fondest childhood memories include the day the first baseball card packs of the season were available. At the time, I survived on allowance, so getting a few packs at a time was a treat; I couldn’t just go out and buy an entire box of packs like I can now.

Anyway, those brightly colored packs of mid-1980s Topps were everything to me. In fact, I stumbled upon a card shop a few years back that still sold packs of the cards from my childhood, so I bought some. I already own all the complete sets, but I bought them anyway just to have the unopened packs. Just looking at them makes me happy.

To celebrate Topps releasing its 2018 Series 1 product on Wednesday, I present six of my favorite White Sox cards:

1993 Topps Finest Refractors #102 – Frank Thomas.

The peak years of my collecting career and the peak player of the time. And the introduction of a super-premium card. It was glossy. It looks as if Frank was popping off the card. And when you hold it under the light there was a prismatic effect. OK, truth be told, I never got my hands on it until years later. But still, it brings me back to a time where the greatest hitter I’ve ever seen was on my favorite team. 

1967 Topps Venezuelan #187 – Minnie Miñoso.

One of the oldest mementos of my childhood is a picture of me which was autographed by Minnie Miñoso on the back:

“4/30/1981  Best Wishes, Minnie Miñoso”

Every generation of White Sox fans has stories about Minnie Miñoso. It’s a travesty he’s not in the Hall of Fame. I even started a Twitter account (@Minoso9HOF) hoping to spread awareness to get him into the Hall one day. I started accumulating Miñoso collectibles. When I discovered this card I had to have it. Bold blue background. RETIRADO (retired in Spanish) in bold lettering. One of the beauties in collecting individual players is coming across rare cards you had no idea existed. 

1909-11 t206 Ed Walsh

Perhaps the most famous card set ever, because of the legendary Honus Wagner card which Wagner had pulled because he didn’t want his image associated with tobacco products (more accurately: he didn’t want his image associated with anything without getting paid for it). It isn’t Wagner, but it is the finest White Sox player of the day. MLB record 1.82 career ERA thanks in most part to a devastating spitball. The card is small - 1 7⁄16 by 2 5⁄8 inchesThe coolest part of owning this card is thinking to yourself that it’s over 100 years old.

1974 Topps Deckle Edge Bill Melton

Bill Melton is a gregarious, insightful and generous man who I am honored to work alongside. Oh yeah, he was the first player in White Sox history to lead the American League in home runs. Black & White photograph, rounded cuts along the edges. Blue facsimile signature. Unique card for a unique man.

1983 Topps Carlton Fisk #20

My favorite all-time player in my favorite all-time set. The first set from which I had a lot of cards. Plain and simple. Color scheme matching that of the team, small headshot in the corner. Iconic ’83 uniforms. Pudge in command decked out in his catcher’s gear. Classic cardboard back of card. Lines upon lines of statistics. It gets no better than this. 

Bonus: 1995 Upper Deck Michael Jordan #200

Michael in White Sox uniform being interviewed. By Harry Caray. Two separate things which I love about cards:

First, it’s a glimpse of a player in a uniform other than the one In which you remember him best. It’s like being delivered into an alternate universe. It’s Pete Rose with the Expos. It’s Ken Griffey Jr. with the White Sox. You ask yourself in disbelief, “That really happened??” 

Second, the cameo appearance. It’s Harry Caray! Two Chicago icons in one. Another Michael Jordan cameo example is the Sam Vincent basketball card in which they caught Jordan wearing #12 in the foreground – the only game he ever wore it (because his jersey was stolen that day)!

I collected cards before I reached Kindergarten. I sorted them by age. I sorted them by height. I sorted them by country of birth. I bought a price guide and sorted them by value. 

As I got older, I stopped playing stock market and discovered the true love for collecting. Today, I buy what I like. I take a three-ring binder and fill up the 9-pocket pages. The pages tell a story. People I loved watching. People I have met. People I worked with. I’m still excited to rip open that first pack of the season. Happy collecting!

Prized White Sox prospect Andrew Vaughn wraps up stint with USA Baseball

Prized White Sox prospect Andrew Vaughn wraps up stint with USA Baseball

As the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 draft, Andrew Vaughn’s first full season in the minors this coming season will be one of the biggest storylines in the big picture of the White Sox rebuild in 2020.

Before that season begins for Vaughn, he got some international experience playing for USA Baseball at the Premier12 tournament. The Premier12 served as the first Olympic qualifying tournament.

Vaughn played in all eight games for the American team which was comprised of minor leaguers not currently on MLB 40-man rosters. He split time between first base and DH and was often in the middle of the order.

In eight games Vaughn hit .321/.367/.357. He had just one extra base hit, a double, in 30 plate appearances.

The lack of power might be somewhat concerning, but he certainly showed contact and on-base skills against quality, experienced competition.


As for USA Baseball, the team entered Saturday’s bronze medal game against Mexico knowing the winner would qualify for the Olympics. The Americans led 2-1 entering the ninth inning, but gave up a home run to send the game to extras. Mexico won with a bases-loaded walk-off single in the 10th.

The US still has two more chances to qualify for the Olympics. There is an Americas qualifying tournament in March and then a last chance tournament soon after that one. Those take place during spring training so it’s unclear if Vaughn would leave White Sox camp for that.

Tyler Johnson, a White Sox relief prospect, was on the initial roster for the tournament, but left the team due to a minor injury.

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Jose Abreu accepts qualifying offer, returns to White Sox on one-year deal

Jose Abreu accepts qualifying offer, returns to White Sox on one-year deal

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It’s almost like Jose Abreu never left.

He was only a free agent for a week and a half, Abreu bringing his brief time away from the White Sox to an end Thursday, when he accepted the qualifying offer of a one-year deal with $17.8 million.

It’s not the multi-year contract that was expected, but MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported that the sides will continue to discuss a long-term pact. Still, the decision is a rare one, with Abreu becoming one of the few players ever to accept the qualifying offer. But he’ll get a nice payday for the 2020 season with a chance to do this whole free-agency thing again a year from now, if he chooses.

There was speculation that Abreu could accept the qualifying offer because of a potentially weak market for his services league-wide. If Abreu rejected the qualifying offer and things fell apart in discussing a multi-year deal with the White Sox, any team that signed him to a contract would have lost a draft pick in doing so. That deterred teams from signing free agents just in the last year, with Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel notably going unsigned until June.

Who knows if that — or just the desire to earn $17.8 million before a potential dip in his annual salary as he ages — had anything to do with Abreu’s decision, but it’s what was being speculated.

Regardless, the White Sox have their first baseman back, great news after he turned in one of the more productive seasons of his six-year big league career in 2019. Abreu led the American League with a career-best 123 RBIs and came three home runs shy of matching a career-high in that category, as well.

Abreu’s return always seemed a foregone conclusion, with the three-time All Star spending the entire 2019 season talking about how badly he wanted to remain on the South Side, going as far as to pledge that if the White Sox didn’t re-sign him, he’d sign himself to a contract and play here anyway.

The feeling was mutual, too, with general manager Rick Hahn, manager Rick Renteria and teammates praising Abreu as a model player and a mentor for the team’s young stars in the making. Eloy Jimenez said Abreu had been like a father during the rookie’s first season in the majors. Abreu revealed that team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf told him he’d never wear another uniform.

He’s as giddy about the team’s future as anyone and has cited the planned shift into contention as the reason he wants to stick around. Tim Anderson said “it’s only right” that Abreu return for 2020, a season in which the long-awaited transition out of rebuilding mode could take place. Hahn said earlier this season that it’s “very likely” Abreu would be around for the franchise’s planned good times.

Abreu’s been incredibly productive at the plate, though his off-the-field contributions are just as important, of course, and he’s been a mentor to players like Jimenez and Yoan Moncada as they’ve gotten their first taste of the major leagues. Luis Robert, the organization’s No. 1 prospect, figures to find his way under Abreu’s wing when he reaches the bigs next season.

Abreu has long seemed to be held in the same esteem as players who have their numbers retired and statues standing at Guaranteed Rate Field, earning the title of “Mr. White Sox” for this generation. It’s no surprise the White Sox are keeping him in that role moving forward as they plan to start seeing brighter days on the South Side.

After capturing the RBI crown, Abreu made his final prediction of the 2019 campaign, saying he did believe he'd be back with the White Sox for 2020. It might not have been terribly difficult to be prescient in this case, but he was nonetheless.

"Everybody knows my wishes and my desire to stay here," he said through team interpreter Billy Russo. "This is an organization I respect. This is an organization I really honor.

"I want to be here, and you know guys, I’ve been telling you that. Hopefully I’m going to be here."

Hope no longer. It might not have gone down exactly as was expected, but Abreu isn't going anywhere.

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