White Sox

Remember That Guy: Josh Paul

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NBC Sports Chicago

Remember That Guy: Josh Paul

As a fellow fan of Carlton Fisk who grew up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago as a White Sox fan, it’s pretty cool to write about Josh Paul.

Joshua William Paul was born May 19, 1975 in Evanston, and grew up a White Sox fan, idolizing Carlton Fisk. The family moved northwest and Josh attended Buffalo Grove High School, where he hit .529 with 7 HR and 31 RBI as a senior. He went to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, and played Cape Cod League ball during the summer, earning 1995 Cape League MVP honors for the Cotuit Kettleers, leading the circuit with a .364 average.

In 1996, Paul was drafted by the White Sox in the second round, 47th overall as an outfielder – he was drafted one pick after Jimmy Rollins. The White Sox converted Paul to a catcher, where he learned the craft quickly. He excelled at throwing out runners and showed outstanding speed for a backstop.

In 1996, Paul hit .327/.386/.504 with 8 home runs and 13 stolen bases in 59 games for class-A Hickory. He was on the fast track to success, but at Birmingham (AA) in 1997, he suffered a broken hamate bone in his right wrist and hit .296/.367/.365 with just one longball in 34 games. He spent all of 1998 with Winston-Salem (high-A) and hit only .255, but had 11 home runs, seven triples, and 20 steals, which is quite impressive for a catcher. The following season, Paul hit only four home runs in 93 games for Birmingham (AA), but hit a respectable .279 with a .345 OBP. He skipped triple-A (at the time) and got a six-game trial with the White Sox at the tail end of 1999.

Josh Paul made his MLB debut on September 7, replacing Mark Johnson in the seventh inning. For his first plate appearance, he grounded out against Shigetoshi Hasegawa to end the game. A week later, he singled off Matt Anderson of the Tigers for his first Big League hit. Paul had drawn rave reviews within the White Sox organization for his work ethic. Then-farm director Kenny Williams noted, "If my four sons grow up to have the determination and character of Josh Paul, I'll be a very happy father."

A Brook Fordyce injury gave Paul the opportunity to crack the White Sox opening day roster as the backup catcher to Mark Johnson. Paul made the most of his opportunity and on April 24, he connected on his first Major League home run – a three-run blast off Hall of Famer Mike Mussina. Paul is one of 24 players in White Sox history to collect the first Major League home run off a Hall of Fame pitcher. Two days later, Paul posted his first career 3-hit game. Paul was sent back to the minors when Brook Fordyce returned to the White Sox, and was recalled for September. Paul hit .282 in 36 games at the Major League level, and threw out 10 of 21 potential base stealers. He appeared in game 1 of the ALDS against the Mariners as a pinch runner. In all, a decent year for the young backstop.

Paul made the opening day roster again in 2001, and hit .266/.327/.410 with 3 HR, 18 RBI and 6 steals in 57 games, spending July and the first half of August back at Charlotte (AAA). In 2002, Paul started at Charlotte and got into 33 games for the Sox, hitting .240. That year, Josh’s brother Jeremy was drafted (as a catcher) by the White Sox in the 46th round of the 2002 MLB Draft, but he ended up not signing.

Paul played 13 games for the Sox in 2003, with six hits in 17 at-bats (.353), but the White Sox decided to designate him for assignment at the end of June. Josh opted for his release and ended up signing with the Cubs about a week later. After a stint at Iowa (AAA), Paul was called up and made it into three games for the Cubs. He’s one of 15 players (six position players) to play for both the White Sox and Cubs in the same season (through 2019).

Paul signed with the Angels for 2004 and ended up spending the next two seasons in Anaheim, occasionally seeing time in the Majors (Bengie and his brother José held down the catcher position most games). Josh caught Bartolo Colon for an inning on May 7, 2005 (eleven years to the day before Bartolo hit his epic home run off James Shields in San Diego), so Paul added catching a pitcher in a Cy Young season to his resume. Josh saw two games of postseason action in 2005; the first of which was a pinch running appearance in the ALDS. In his second postseason appearance of 2005, he was at the center of one of the more controversial moments in recent MLB history.

Paul entered the game in the eighth inning of a 1-1 tie in Game 2 of the ALCS; the Angels up one game to none. In the ninth inning, with two outs, A.J. Pierzynski swung and missed, and then after a slight hesitation took off for first believing the ball hit the dirt. Paul casually rolled the ball to the mound and started jogging to the dugout because that made three outs. Umpire Doug Eddings awarded Pierzynski first base. Paul maintains to this day that he caught the ball, but could have avoided all uncertainty by tagging Pierzynski just in case. But that’s easy to say in hindsight.

Pierzynski left the game for a pinch runner, Pablo Ozuna, who scored the game-winning run on a Joe Crede double. And the White Sox went on to win the series four games to one. To look back and place blame on Paul is silly. The game would’ve remained tied and the White Sox pitching looked way too strong for the Angels to overcome.

It just so happens that Paul never played another game for the Angels; on December 19, 2005 he was traded to the Rays for pitcher Travis Schlichting. Paul logged part-time duty for Joe Maddon’s Rays in 2006 and 2007, played in 2008 for Round Rock (AAA) in the Astros organization, then called it a career.

Since hanging up his spikes, Paul has become a highly regarded coach. He spent 2009-17 in the Yankees organization, managing single-A Staten Island in 2009-10, then was a Yankees pro scout in 2011-14 and was minor league catching coordinator from 2015-17.

Paul returned to the Angels where he spent 2018-19 as Bench Coach at the Major League Level, and on November 12, 2019 was named quality control coach for the Detroit Tigers. He has earned high praise for his work with catchers, most notably Gary Sánchez of the Yankees. Playing under Managers of the Year such as Jerry Manuel, Mike Scioscia and Joe Maddon has certainly helped him work his way to the top. Will a managerial post be in the near future? It wouldn’t be a surprise. 

A Sox fan, then a Sox catcher, now a rising star in the coaching ranks.

Josh Paul. Remember that guy?

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Royals' Brad Keller to White Sox fans: 'Give up' posting Tim Anderson bat flip

Royals' Brad Keller to White Sox fans: 'Give up' posting Tim Anderson bat flip

Tim Anderson's bat flip against the Kansas City Royals was undoubtedly one of the biggest moments of the White Sox season.

The guy who gave up the homer doesn't seem to agree.

As we found out in the aftermath, there was a lot more behind the bat flip than just celebrating a fourth-inning home run in April.

Royals pitcher Brad Keller plunked Anderson in retaliation, cranking up baseball's never-ending debate between old-school and new-school styles.

Anderson was ejected and suspended for what he called Keller after getting hit, turning the conversation to race and the dwindling number of black major leaguers.

The tragedies of Anderson's life played their own role in the ensuing discussions, too, with his quest to inject more fun into a game he called "boring" mirroring his mission to have more fun in his own life after his best friend was killed.

But Keller, who called the way Anderson celebrated "over the top" and described his in-game fury toward the bat flip, thinks the White Sox and their fans should stop celebrating a moment from a game the South Siders lost.

"I get tagged in like everything Tim Anderson or White Sox. White Sox fans have a fascination with tagging my name," Keller said during an appearance on The Charity Stripe podcast. "When it comes to (the originally scheduled date for) Opening Day this year, and obviously we didn't play, the White Sox tweeted out a thing that was, 'Since we're not playing the Royals, let's review our top five games against the Royals.' And the No. 1 game was the Tim Anderson game. And they lost.

"Everyone was like, 'How does it feel to be the No. 1 game?' And I'm like, 'Dude, we won the game. I don't get what you're talking about here. This isn't about me. We won the game.'"

RELATED: After saying he feels like 'today's Jackie Robinson' in SI interview, Tim Anderson says baseball needs change 'because the game is boring'

White Sox fans might be getting sick of hearing from Keller, who has quickly — and somewhat happily, it seems — attained villain status in Chicago. But he's sick of hearing from them, too, and has a request for White Sox Twitter.

"I get tagged in everything. Apparently (Anderson) did like a Q&A, and someone asked him how bad he wanted to hit a home run off me. And he wrote 'so bad.' And everyone tagged me and was like, 'He owns you!' And I was like, 'Oh my god, give it a rest.'

"And the thing is, they haven't given up on it. They keep posting the same video over and over and over. It happened a year ago. It didn't even happen at the end of the season, it happened at the beginning of the season. So much shit happened during the middle of the season, I don't get why you keep bringing up one moment over and over and over. Give up."

Keep in mind, of course, that harassing people online is a bad thing to do. Don't do it.

Keller explained that he was surprised he didn't get more verbal abuse at Guaranteed Rate Field after all the bad stuff he heard on social media. The reason? People rarely say the horrible things they say from behind a screen to someone's face. This is all a good reminder that those types of things shouldn't be directed at someone in any venue.

Keller, for what it's worth, should also know it's not right to intentionally throw a projectile at someone to punish them for celebrating.

But this rivalry isn't likely to die anytime soon. Anderson had his own response after seeing Keller's thoughts Tuesday:

Keller's not likely to get his wish to stop seeing Anderson's bat flip on social media. As explained, it was a big moment of the 2019 season for a host of reasons. Him serving up a home run was just part of the story.

Here's hoping that the online behavior remains respectful, the rivalry stays heated on the field (without anyone getting hurt) and that Anderson keeps being Anderson and continues to bring more highlight-reel fun to the South Side.

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10 crazy Frank Thomas stats on White Sox Hall of Famer's birthday

10 crazy Frank Thomas stats on White Sox Hall of Famer's birthday

Frank Thomas turned 52 on Wednesday. The White Sox legend spent 16 of his 19 big league seasons on the South Side, putting together a Hall of Fame résumé leading to his induction into Cooperstown in 2014.

In honor of his birthday, here are ten crazy stats you may not know on "The Big Hurt."

10 crazy Frank Thomas stats on White Sox legend's birthday

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