So wait a second. Who the hell was the manager for the 1978 White Sox? It was always very confusing to me as a kid to refer to a series of cards by the one year NOT mentioned on the card.
When I turned over the stats and saw that the card went up to 1978, BOOM! This is his 1978 card. But no. It was the 1979 card.
To this day when I see a card from a series I knew very well, like the 1981 Topps or the 1987 Topps cards, I associate them with the last year on the card not the year it was printed.
Let me put it to you this way. The Academy Awards take place in February or March of the year AFTER the films are released. But last year when Moonlight (or was it La La Land?) won Best Picture, it wasn’t declared best picture of 2017. It was Best Picture 2016.
Some film filling the cinema right now is going to win best picture of 2017 and they will give it out in 2018.
So why not have the CARDS be called that. And a problem happens when they try to be cute, like THIS card.
The card was issued in 1979. Don Kessinger was named manager for the 1979 White Sox. So they were cute. They made it look like he was the manager of the team in the team picture.
And Kessinger was indeed IN the team picture. He was the starting shortstop. But there is a cruel irony of putting Kessinger in this picture: It obscured who actually finished the 1978 season as manager.
The White Sox were a surprise contender in 1977 with Bob Lemon as manager. But many of their stars tested the new free agency for 1978 and the fortunes of the team sagged.
Meanwhile, as everything went bananas in New York for the defending World Champion Yankees, Billy Martin found himself fired. Bob Lemon was lured over from Chicago to fill Martin’s turbulent shoes.
So who played out the string in Chicago to replace future Hall of Famer Bob Lemon? It would be another future Hall of Famer, Larry Doby.
Larry Doby became the second black manager in baseball history, following Frank Robinson.
Something about that should ring a bell.
Larry Doby was also the second black player to cross the color line after Jackie Robinson. Doby went through all the same hardships that Jackie went through but did so without the fan fare, without being a household name and without being a symbol of racial progress.
And with all the boundaries put up to managing in the big league level, Doby once again fought his way to the top in the wake of a great Hall of Famer named Robinson.
And once again, his accomplishment is relatively obscure. The White Sox did not exactly tear down the house in 1978 and Doby did not get the job afterwards.
But couldn’t his name have graced this picture as manager? Wouldn’t that have been appropriate for a great figure in baseball history or always has to lurk in the shadows?
Meanwhile Don Kessinger took over the team and guess what? He didn’t last the year. 106 games into the season as player and manager, he was shown the door in favor of Tony LaRussa.
Thank Goodness they were able to give Don Kessinger his time in the spotlight. Heaven forbid Larry Doby got it.