White Sox part ways with Williams, Hahn

August 23rd, 2023

CHICAGO -- The White Sox lost another game Tuesday night, dropping a 6-3 decision at Guaranteed Rate Field to the Mariners for a fifth straight home setback and falling to a dismal 49-77 overall.

With all due respect to the players getting after it for more than three hours on the field, that story rated a distant second on this night. The White Sox announced executive vice president Ken Williams and general manager Rick Hahn have been relieved of their responsibilities, effective immediately, with the news breaking from the team one hour prior to first pitch.

These moves come following a 2022 season in which the White Sox were mired in mediocrity, never falling more than five games below .500 and never getting further than five over .500 before finishing at 81-81, and then an even worse ‘23 season in which the White Sox were out of postseason contention after a 7-21 start. Both of these seasons were considered part of the team’s competitive playoff window following a much ballyhooed rebuild.

“This is an incredibly difficult decision for me to make because they are both talented individuals with long-term relationships at the White Sox," said White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf in a release to announce the moves. "Ken is like a son to me, and I will always consider him a member of my family.

“I want to personally thank Ken and Rick for all they have done for the Chicago White Sox, winning the 2005 World Series and reaching the postseason multiple times during their tenures. I have nothing but the greatest respect for them as people and appreciate the commitment and passion for the White Sox they exhibited over the years.”

Reinsdorf continued on in his statement to point out that the well-worn cliché of professional sports being results-oriented is correct.

“While we have enjoyed successes as an organization and were optimistic heading into the competitive window of this rebuild, this year has proven to be very disappointing for us all on many levels,” Reinsdorf said. “This has led me to the conclusion that the best decision for the organization moving forward is to make a change in our baseball department leadership."

Extensive statements were issued by both Williams and Hahn regarding the decisions during Tuesday’s loss. But in an earlier text to MLB.com, Williams summed up the moves honestly and professionally.

“We have underachieved,” Williams wrote. “This is what happens."

“It really stinks,” White Sox first baseman Andrew Vaughn said. “Two great men. It stinks.”

“At the end of the day, we didn’t do our job on the field,” White Sox reliever Aaron Bummer said. “But forever grateful for those two men.”

Williams was in his 11th season as executive vice president with the White Sox after serving as the club's general manager for 12 seasons (2001-12). During his tenure as general manager, the White Sox captured the 2005 World Series championship and the 2008 American League Central title. Overall, the White Sox reached the postseason five times during Williams' tenure as director of Minor League operations (1995-96), vice president of player development (1997-2000), general manager and executive vice president. He originally joined the front office in 1992 as a scout.

Hahn served as the White Sox general manager for the past 11 seasons, leading the team to consecutive postseason appearances in 2020 as a Wild Card and 2021 as AL Central champions. He joined the organization in October 2000 and helped build the 2005 World Series champions and 2008 division champions as assistant general manager (2000-12) before being promoted to general manager in October 2012.

The White Sox will begin a search for a single decision-maker to lead the baseball operations department and anticipate having an individual in place by the end of the season. It was Hahn and Williams who brought in manager Pedro Grifol after an extensive round of interviews, leaving Grifol emotional as well as stunned.

“My first interview was with Rick and a couple of other guys and my second was with Kenny and I would have never got past the first one if it wasn’t Rick and I never would have got past the second one if it wasn’t Kenny,” Grifol said. “I owe everything to them.

“They believed in me and now I had to watch them walk out the building. That really hurt me. You go out there every day to give it your very best. And it just wasn’t good enough.”

Despite having two years left on his deal, could Grifol also be done after this season? He was honest postgame in admitting to thinking about the situation.

“Obviously I’m not going to sit here and lie and tell you that I don’t think about it, but I’m not going to get caught up in it,” Grifol said. “Why? Because I have a responsibility to those guys in there.

“To do my job, do it as a professional, come in every day and to the coaching staff and to this organization to come in and prepare to win a baseball game. That’s my job.”