The moments leading up to Hahn and Williams' departures

August 25th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Scott Merkin’s White Sox Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

I was at Guaranteed Rate Field Tuesday around 4:25 p.m. CT, talking one-on-one with general manager Rick Hahn on the field.

Around 40 minutes earlier, I saw executive vice president Ken Williams walk through the home clubhouse and eventually moved to where the White Sox were taking batting practice.

By 5:45 p.m. CT on that same night, Williams and Hahn had been relieved of their duties.

I’ve covered seven White Sox managers for 21 years. Wednesday afternoon’s victory over the Mariners marked the first time I’ve covered the club where Williams and/or Hahn weren’t in charge.

My brief conversation with Hahn -- it lasted about five minutes -- started with Noah Schultz, the No. 2 White Sox prospect per MLB Pipeline. The lefty has dazzled on the mound with a 1.33 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 27 innings for Single-A Kannapolis but landed on the injured list with a left shoulder impingement on Aug. 20. At that moment, Hahn didn’t think the injury would be season ending for the southpaw with so much upside.

We talked about the prospects Hahn acquired in the seven White Sox trades leading up to the Deadline on Aug. 1 and concluded our conversation with me mentioning something I had heard about the future of the White Sox front office. I can honestly say at 4:30 p.m. CT, Hahn didn’t know the decisions were coming.

When the news broke, I was sitting in the Conference and Learning Center waiting for the debut of the "Fitted in Black" documentary, produced by the White Sox. Vinnie Duber, who does an outstanding job of covering the White Sox as well, was sitting next to me when I showed him the press release coming across my phone. We darted out of there and back to the pressbox.

Many stories have been told since Tuesday about what didn’t work with Williams and Hahn, and I’ve talked several times in this newsletter about how these last two years have been the worst I’ve covered for this team. The expectations were sky high through the rebuild, and in the prime of the competitive window, they won two playoff games and currently sit at an astounding 50-78.

But this duo put together one of the more underrated World Series champions in my lifetime in 2005 -- in terms of sheer dominance -- three playoff teams and other solid squads. There clearly just weren’t enough of them along the way.

Williams and Hahn are good men and good baseball men. They certainly will work again in this industry if that’s what they desire. Some of you will passionately disagree with me. That’s fine, but I know what I know after being around them for more than two decades.

A change was needed, based on the recent rough results and clubhouse issues. Even if Tuesday’s decisions from chairman Jerry Reinsdorf were unexpected, they both had to know they were coming.

“We have underachieved,” Williams said via text on Tuesday night. “This is what happens.”