It took about two minutes to understand the camaraderie of the 1983 Chicago White Sox team during a “Winning Ugly” seminar Sunday at SoxFest.
A panel that included former manager Tony La Russa and former players Harold Baines, Greg Luzinski, Tom Paciorek and Ron Kittle shared many humorous stories and took friendly digs at each other before a packed crowd.
One of the more amusing anecdotes involved the stocky Luzinski stealing second base standing up in the third inning at Boston’s Fenway Park during a Sept. 3 game.
“Let me finish the story,” Luzinski told La Russa, who tried to interject. “You’re not managing anymore.”
Said La Russa: “The reason no one was covering second base was because the shortstop and second baseman fainted.”
Paciorek added: “I still can’t believe (La Russa) didn’t pinch-run for you at second.”
Luzinski and Kittle poked fun at La Russa admiration for Baines, saying that La Russa always protected Baines in a retaliatory manner.
On a more serious note, La Russa said that Game 4 of the American League Championship Series was the most historical playoff game he’s been involved in because of what would have happened had the Sox not lost to Baltimore 3-0 in 10 innings. The Sox were confident because La Marr Hoyt, who beat the Orioles in Game 1, would have faced Scott McGregor in a rematch.
And the two teams opened the 1984 season against each other, with Hoyt facing McGregor. “And the White Sox won that game,” La Russa pointed out.
La Russa had a thorough explanation for the base running gaffe by Jerry Dybzinski in the seventh inning after bunting into a forceout with runners at first and second that prevented the Sox from taking a 1-0 lead.
La Russa pointed out that the biggest mistake made by Dybzinski, whom he called the best bunter on the team, was bunting a topper in front of home plate that allowed Orioles catcher Rick Dempsey to field and throw to third base to force pinch runner Mike Squires.
Julio Cruz followed with a single that would have scored Squires had Dybinski bunted successfully, La Russa anticipated.
“We’d get one or two (runs) and figure we’d get six outs and win,” La Russa said.
La Russa believes the failed sacrifice stuck with Dybzinski.
“I think he got real emotional and motivated, and he’s an aggressive kind of guy,” La Russa said.
La Russa vividly recalls Cruz’s line drive single with Vance Law advancing from second, only to see left fielder Gary Roenicke charging and third base coach Jim Leyland giving Law the stop sign at third.
“Dybzinski is thinking there’s a play at the plate,” said La Russa, adding that Dybzinski assumes he’ll be at third base with Law scoring with only one out.
However, Dybzinski creates a rundown, with Law getting thrown out in a rundown between third and home plate.
“Instead of picking up (Leyland’s sign), (Dybzinski) has his head down, so he makes one mistake plus one mistake equals two mistakes,” La Russa said.
“I don’t remember much about that play,” La Russa quipped, which ignited one of the largest laughs of SoxFest.