White Sox

Remember That Guy: Harry Chappas

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NBC Sports Chicago

Remember That Guy: Harry Chappas

Harry Chappas was the José Altuve of the late 1970s – but in a way backwards. Whereas the Astros second baseman is listed at 5-foot-6, but many believe he’s a few inches shorter, Harry’s height was reported to be shorter than it actually was. This shouldn’t shock anyone – it was Bill Veeck’s White Sox after all.

Harry Perry Chappas was Oct. 26, 1957** in Mount Rainier, Md.; the son of Valli (who was born in Greece) and Perry (whose parents were born in Greece). Chappas played baseball and football (a wide receiver) at Nova High School in Davie, Fla. The White Sox drafted Chappas out of high school in the 21st round in 1975, but Chappas opted to attend Miami-Dade College instead. The Sox came calling again in 1976 when they drafted Chappas again in the sixth round of the January draft (secondary phase).

**October 26 is a prominent date in White Sox history. 1919 Black Sox manager Kid Gleason was born Oct. 26, 1866. Former Sox GM Roland Hemond – the Sox GM while Chappas was with the White Sox – was born Oct. 26, 1929. Sox owner Charles Comiskey died on Oct. 26, 1931. The 2005 White Sox clinched the World Series on Oct. 26, 2005. And Rick Hahn was named White Sox Senior VP/GM on Oct. 26, 2012.

The diminutive (we’ll get to his height in a minute) switch-hitting shortstop made his pro debut in 1976 with Appleton (Single-A Midwest League), hitting .262/.356/.360, leveraging his smaller strike zone into 54 walks. He also stole 40 bases in 102 games. He struggled at Double-A Knoxville (Southern League) in 1977 hitting .231 but posting an impressive .360 OBP with 76 walks in 123 games. Chappas turned it on in 1978 back at Appleton, hitting .302/.391/.412 with 14 triples, 71 walks and a league-leading 60 stolen bases. The White Sox called him up in September.

That 1978 Appleton team was ranked 93rd on MiLB.com’s top 100 minor league teams of all-time compiled in 2001.

On his first day in the majors, Harry Carry measured Harry Perry Chappas (yes, Harry Caray and Harry Perry) and declared him to be 5-foot-3. That’s the height the White Sox used in their media guides in 1979 and 1980, and that’s the height printed on his 1980 Topps baseball card. But how tall was he? It’s fairly clear that the 5-foot-3 listing was a Bill Veeck publicity stunt, intending to have Chappas billed as the shortest major leaguer (one inch or so under the Royals’ 5-foot-4 or 5-foot-5 Freddie Patek). Regardless how tall he would be listed, Chappas would never be the shortest player brought in by Bill Veeck to play in a major league game. That would be the 3-foot-7 Chicago native Eddie Gaedel, who played in a game for the St. Louis Browns in 1951.

On Sept. 7, Chappas made his MLB debut batting second playing shortstop and went 0-for-4 against the Mariners. Then he strung together a nine-game hitting streak, during which he hit .368 (14-for-38). He finished the month hitting .267/.318/.280 in 20 games.

Chappas entered 1979 with some fanfare, gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated on March 19 with the headline “The Littlest Rookie.” In the article inside the issue, it was revealed by a “knowledgeable member of the White Sox” that Chappas was truly 5-foot-5. It’s possible he’s even taller than that; several sources, including baseball-reference.com list him at 5-foot-7. Regarding his height, Chappas told Sports Illustrated, “I want to be known as a quality ballplayer, not as a midget or a punk.”

Harry didn’t exactly accomplish that goal with his start to 1980. He started 1-for-17 before being sent down to Triple-A Iowa. There, he had a bit of redemption, hitting .305/.381/.409 with five home runs(!) in 77 games before the White Sox recalled him in August. And despite limited playing time, Chappas was successful down the stretch, hitting .381 (16-for-42) to close out 1979, including his first big league home run which came August 20 off the Brewers’ Bill Travers at County Stadium.

Chappas made the Opening Day roster again in 1980, but he struggled again mightily. Sent down to the minors for a bit, Harry returned at the end of May and wound up just 8-for-50 (half of those hits came April 20 at Baltimore – his lone career four-hit game).  On June 6, Chappas hit a walk-off double for an 8-7 win vs Cleveland. It was his last career major league hit. The White Sox sent him down about a week later. He never returned to the majors.

Chappas played 1981 for the Denver Bears (Double-A American Association) in the Expos organization, then in 1982 he appeared for Glens Falls (Double-A) and Edmonton (Triple-A) in the White Sox organization as well as Monterrey (Mexican League). On July 25, 1982, Chappas pitched the last four innings for the Edmonton Trappers in a 13-7 loss against Spokane. In 1983 Harry played for Savannah in the Braves organization, then he went to play professionally in Italy in 1984, where he suffered a career-ending motorcycle injury.

In 72 big league games from 1978-80, Harry Chappas hit .245/.307/.283 with one home run, 12 RBI and two stolen bases.

Chappas had a few hobbies he enjoyed throughout his playing career and perhaps beyond, such as raising and breeding Australian and African finches and building model airplanes.

His career was, well, short, but he was memorable. Who could forget Harry Chappas!

MLB The Show: White Sox celebrate Memorial Day with 6-4 win over Orioles

MLB The Show: White Sox celebrate Memorial Day with 6-4 win over Orioles

NBC Sports Chicago is simulating the 2020 White Sox season via MLB The Show during the postponement of play. The White Sox, stocked with young talent and veteran offseason acquisitions, were expected to take a big step forward in their rebuild this season. Follow along as we play out the first few months of the season.

Result: White Sox def. Orioles, 6-4

Record: 25-29, 3rd in A.L. Central (5.0 GB of Twins)

W: Reynaldo Lopez (5-2)
L: Asher Wojciechowski (1-6)
SV: Alex Colome (8)

Game summary: Monday’s Memorial Day matchup between the White Sox and Orioles was one of two teams going in opposite directions. The White Sox are red hot with a six-game winning streak, while the O’s were riding a nine-game losing skid.

The White Sox set off the fireworks early with a leadoff home run from Edwin Encarnacion, his 16th of the season. Two batters later, Yoan Moncada homered for the 10th time this season, becoming the sixth White Sox hitter with double-digit long balls on the season. 

Encarnacion continued his run production in the fourth, driving in Luis Robert with a RBI single to left field to give the Sox a 3-1 lead. The offense didn’t skip a frame, scoring two in the fifth behind a Jose Abreu sacrifice fly and a Tim Anderson RBI single to give the Sox a four-run advantage.

The following inning, Eloy Jimenez joined the power production with his 20th homer of the season, tied for league lead with Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon.

White Sox lineup:

Edwin Encarnacion: 2-5, HR, 2 RBI (.314 BA)
Eloy Jimenez: 1-5, HR, RBI (.268 BA)
Yoan Moncada: 2-5, HR, RBI (.261 BA)
Nick Madrigal: 2-5, 2B (.252 BA)
Jose Abreu: 1-4, RBI (.308 BA)
Tim Anderson: 2-4, RBI, 2B (.300 BA)
Luis Robert: 0-3, BB (.237 BA)
Yasmani Grandal: 2-4, 2 2B (.299 BA)
Nomar Mazara: 1-4 (.244 BA)

Scoring summary:

Top first:

Edwin Encarnacion homered to center field. 1-0 CHW.
Yoan Moncada homered to right field. 2-0 CHW.

Bottom second:

Renato Nunez homered to left field. 2-1 CHW.

Top fourth:

Encarnacion singled to left field, Luis Robert scored. 3-1 CHW.

Top fifth:

Jose Abreu sacrifice fly to center field, Moncada scored. 4-1 CHW.
Tim Anderson singled to center field, Nick Madrigal scored. 5-1 CHW.

Top sixth:

Eloy Jimenez homered to left field. 6-1 CHW.

Bottom seventh:

Austin Hays doubled to right field, Trey Mancini scored. 6-2 CHW.

Bottom ninth:

Ramon Urias doubled to right field, D.J. Stewart and Hays scored. 6-4 CHW.

Notable performance: Reynaldo Lopez continues to pitch well, leading the White Sox with five wins on the season. He went 6 1/3 innings while striking out seven Baltimore batters and only allowing two earned runs. 

Next game: Tuesday, May 26 - Game 55: White Sox at Orioles (Michael Kopech, 0-0, 2.13 ERA vs Keegan Akin, 2-3, 4.44 ERA)

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White Sox 2005 Rewind: With a little help from old friend Tony Graffanino

White Sox 2005 Rewind: With a little help from old friend Tony Graffanino

In the eighth inning of Game 3 of the 2000 ALDS, the White Sox inserted Tony Graffanino into the game as a pinch-runner.

He was erased when Paul Konerko hit into an inning-ending double play. Graffanino stayed in the game at third base and was on the field when the Seattle Mariners walked off Keith Foulke and the White Sox.

The White Sox didn’t get back to the postseason for another five years.

But when they did, Graffanino was there again, this time playing for the opposing Boston Red Sox. He started at second base and had one of the best seats in the house to watch the South Siders beat the defending champs’ brains in for a 14-2 win in Game 1 of the 2005 ALDS. The next night, he factored into things a bit more prominently, though certainly not in the way he hoped.

Graffanino played for the White Sox from 2000 to 2003. He started the 2005 season as a division rival, suiting up for the Kansas City Royals before being dealt to the Red Sox in the middle of the campaign. He had himself an excellent season, and his good numbers with the Royals got even better when he went to Boston. He hit .319 and reached base at a .355 clip in his 51 regular-season games with the Red Sox.

But his defense, or lack thereof, would be his key contribution to the ALDS that season, unintentionally helping turn the tide in the middle of the series’ second game — for his old mates.

After torching Matt Clement for eight runs in Game 1, the White Sox offense wasn’t finding things quite as easy against another former South Sider, David Wells, who had the bats well silenced through four innings. Meanwhile, Mark Buehrle was atypically hittable in the early going of this one, giving up two first-inning runs — he only gave up six first-inning runs in his 33 regular-season starts — and two more runs in the third.

But the same White Sox lineup scored two touchdowns the day before and was obviously capable of banging around Boston’s lackluster pitching staff. The White Sox strung some hits together against Wells in the bottom of the fifth to cut the deficit in half, and Juan Uribe came up with a runner on first and one out. He tapped a grounder to second, hitting what appeared to be a pretty routine double-play ball.

Except Graffanino whiffed.

RELATED: White Sox 2005 Rewind: Underdogs? 14-run ALDS coming-out party said otherwise

Instead of an inning-ending double play, Graffanino’s error kept the inning alive. And after Scott Podsednik popped out to third base, the bill came due. Tadahito Iguchi hit a go-ahead, three-run homer that sent the South Side into pure chaos.


All three runs were unearned, but they still counted.

Buehrle settled down nicely, and after giving up his fourth run, he retired 13 of the final 15 hitters he faced, allowing just a couple singles. Bobby Jenks was stellar in his first career playoff game, called upon for a two-inning save in a one-run game. No matter. He retired six of the eight batters he faced, including Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon, the only hit he gave up a ninth-inning double to, who else, Graffanino. But with the tying run 180 feet away, Jenks got a pop out and a ground ball to put the White Sox a win away from an ALDS sweep.


Now, I’m not trying to revive the one-time trend of jumping all over a guy who lets a ball roll under his glove during a key playoff game on the right side of the Red Sox infield. That’s, as the kids say, tired and not at all wired.

And the White Sox deserve plenty if not most of the credit. They were no strangers to comebacks of all stripes during that 2005 season. It's one thing to be gifted an opportunity. It's another to be able to capitalize. Iguchi was clutch as could be, and his defensive plays at second base in this one were important, too, earning him an enthusiastic hug from Buehrle in the dugout after the seventh inning. Buehrle and Jenks’ efforts on the hill were just as important as a big inning at the right time.

But how funny does the world work — the baseball world, in particular — that with the White Sox attempting to erase an 88-year title drought, who should be there to turn the game around in their favor but a former teammate and a guy who was on the field the last time they were this close, half a decade earlier?

That’s team-of-destiny stuff right there.

Keep reliving the White Sox march to the 2005 World Series with #SoxRewind, which features Game 3 of the ALDS, airing at 7 p.m. Monday on NBC Sports Chicago.

 

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