White Sox Top 5 GMs: Merkin's take

June 22nd, 2020

CHICAGO – No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top five players by position in the history of their franchise, based on their career while playing for that club. These rankings are for fun and debate purposes only … if you don’t agree with the order, participate in the Twitter poll to vote for your favorite.

White Sox all-time best: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | LF | CF | RF | DH | RH SP | LH SP | RP | Manager

Here is Scott Merkin’s ranking of the top five general managers in White Sox history.

1) Ken Williams, 2001-12
Key fact: Architect of 2005 World Series champions

The White Sox won American League Central titles in 2005 and '08 during Williams’ successful run as general manager. They finished second in five other seasons and at .500 or better nine times under Williams, putting together a 1,014-931 record. Williams certainly wasn’t afraid to make moves to improve the White Sox, acquiring 171 players in 72 trades involving the Major League roster.

The organization’s 88-year World Series title drought came to an end in Williams’ fifth year, via a 99-win regular season and an 11-1 postseason run. Ozzie Guillen was the manager for that team, hired following a spirited interview with Williams.

This title run began in ’04 with key acquisitions made by Williams, including right-handed starter Freddy Garcia from Seattle in exchange for Michael Morse, Miguel Olivo and Jeremy Reed, and right-handed starter Jose Contreras from the Yankees for Esteban Loaiza. He also added designated hitter Carl Everett in a July 2003 trade with the Expos.

Right fielder Jermaine Dye, right-handed reliever Dustin Hermanson, right-handed starter Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, catcher A.J. Pierzynski, second baseman Tadahito Iguchi and utility player Pablo Ozuna arrived via free agency in the offseason prior to ‘05, while closer Bobby Jenks was claimed off waivers and outfielder Scott Podsednik and right-handed reliever Luis Vizcaino were brought over from Milwaukee in a trade for Carlos Lee.

Related

Williams became the first African-American general manager in Chicago sports history and the third in Major League history, following Bill Lucas (Atlanta, 1979) and Bob Watson (Houston 1994-95, Yankees, 1996-97). In October 2012, Williams was promoted to executive vice president. He served as the White Sox director of Minor League operations from 1995-96 and as vice president of player development from 1997-2000.

2) Roland Hemond, 1970-85
Key fact: Recognized with the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011

Hemond is one of the classiest people around, working for three different owners with the White Sox in John W. Allyn, Bill Veeck and Jerry Reinsdorf. There’s a famous story from one Winter Meetings under Veeck in which Hemond set up a table in the lobby of the Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood, Fla., with the sign “Open for Business Anytime,” according to reports about the event. The table even featured a ringing phone, with the idea leading to a number of moves.

Hemond was at the helm for the 1983 team that captured the AL West title and the '77 South Side Hitmen, an exciting crew featuring nine players with 10 or more home runs. Hemond acquired Dick Allen from the Dodgers on Dec. 2, 1971, in a trade that helped turn around a franchise that drew 495,355 fans in '70.

Hemond also served as a special advisor to Williams during the 2005 World Series championship season.

3) Ron Schueler, 1990-2000
Key fact: Architect of division titles in 1993 and 2000

Schueler pitched for the White Sox for the final two seasons of his big league career (1978-79) and briefly served as the White Sox pitching coach at age 31. As general manager, Schueler worked with four managers in Jeff Torborg, Gene Lamont, Terry Bevington and Jerry Manuel, presiding over five seasons with at least 85 victories and a shortened 1994 campaign in which the White Sox finished 67-46 and in first place at the time of the strike.

4) Hank Greenberg, 1959-61
Key fact: Two-time MVP and Hall of Famer as a player

Greenberg hit 331 career homers with a single-season high of 58 for the Tigers in 1938. He also posted a career-high 184 RBIs in '37, when he had a slash line of .337/.436/.668 to go with 49 doubles, 14 triples and 40 homers to finish third in the AL MVP voting. But this list is about his front-office work. Greenberg served as the White Sox general manager under Veeck in '59 when the White Sox won their first AL pennant since '19.

5) Larry Himes, 1986-90
Key fact: Helped build a strong Minor League system

Himes traded Harold Baines, who was selected No. 1 overall in the 1977 Draft during Hemond’s tenure, to Texas on July 29, 1989, but received in return infielder Scott Fletcher, left-handed pitcher Wilson Alvarez and outfielder Sammy Sosa. (He later traded for Sosa again as general manager of the Cubs.) The White Sox also selected right-handed pitcher Jack McDowell ('87), third baseman Robin Ventura ('88), first baseman Frank Thomas ('89) and right-handed pitcher Alex Fernandez ('90) in the first round of the Draft under Himes. The team won 94 games in ’90.

Honorable mention

Ed Short
Although he never reached the playoffs, Short had seven winning seasons during his run from 1961-70.

Rick Hahn
Hahn has the team primed for a successful run through a strong rebuild he began in 2016.

Harry Grabiner
Grabiner is recognized as the team’s first general manager, holding the spot from 1915-45.