Chicago White Sox: 10 Most Controversial Figures of the Last 50 Years
Myers brings with him to Chicago his World Series ring from the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies, 342 career appearances and a versatility that will instantly help the White Sox. Myers can thrive in a set-up role, and he can close games or even make a spot-start when necessary.
What Myers also brings to the White Sox is a career that was once marred in controversy. While Myers does not regularly make headlines for off-the-field transgressions, he will likely always be remembered for his domestic violence arrest in 2006.
In 2006, Myers had already etched out a solid baseball career for himself with the Philadelphia Phillies. Myers was coming off of a 13-8 season as a Phillies starter and was entrenched in the team's starting rotation.
On June 24, 2006, witnesses and Brett Myers' wife, Kim Wickman, reported that Myers struck her in the face and pulled her hair outside of Fenway Park. Wickman would later drop the charges against Myers, claiming that the couple were both drinking that night and that there was no history of violence in their family.
The damage had been done, however, and although charges were dropped, Myers would play the next couple of years under the shadow of his domestic abuse incident.
That incident was not mentioned recently by Chicago's two major publications after the White Sox's acquisition of Myers, yet the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times may find it difficult to ignore the elephant in the room.
While Myers will likely quietly play out his current contract in Chicago, and possibly re-sign with the team if he helps pitch the White Sox into the playoffs, one can't help being reminded of other controversial players and coaches in White Sox history.
The White Sox are synonymous with baseball controversy with perhaps the most controversial event in the sport's history. The 1919 Black Sox scandal almost brought down the entire sport after eight Chicago White Sox players received a lifetime ban from baseball for helping fix the 1919 World Series.
White Sox greats such as Eddie Cicotte and 'Shoeless' Joe Jackson were eventually acquitted of conspiracy to commit fraud, but were banished from the game in 1921, and the stain has stuck with baseball and the White Sox for nearly a century.
Some of the controversial characters throughout White Sox history made headlines by their aggressive play on the field, while others struggled with issues off the diamond.
The following is a list of the 10 most controversial White Sox figures in recent team history.
Tony Phillips (White Sox 1996-1997)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
While he only played in Chicago for little more than one season, outfielder Tony Phillips made a big impact on the field for the team.
The versatile, switch-hitting Phillips was an excellent lead-off man, combining power and speed to give the White Sox a potent table-setter. While with the White Sox, Phillips had an outstanding on-base percentage of .410 in 880 plate appearances.
Phillips, who broke into baseball in 1978, went on to play 18 seasons, but not without incidents on and off the field.
Prior to Phillips' arrest, he was known to be a fiery competitor, willing to take on any player or fan who stood in his way.
While playing with the White Sox in 1996, Phillips punched a fan in the face after a game against the Brewers in Milwaukee. Most accounts of the incident said that the fan was aggressive in his taunts and hurled racial epitaphs at Phillips. Battery charges were considered against Phillips but were never filed.
Tony Phillips was never short on passion on the baseball field, and even at the age of 51, Phillips can still mix it up. In 2011 while playing baseball in the Independent League, Phillips got into a fight on the field with former MLB player, Mike Marshall.
Phillips was suspended for three games for his role in the fight with Marshall, who was managing the opposing team. Phillips was playing for the Yuma Scorpions and was being managed by none other than another former controversial player, Jose Conseco.
Jose Canseco (White Sox, 2001)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
When Jose Canseco finished his major league career, he did so in a White Sox uniform.
Since 2001 when Canseco last played in a major league game, his name has become synonymous with the steroid era in baseball.
Canseco was admittedly one of the earliest users of steroids to enhance players' performances on the field. His 2005 book, Juiced, outed several players who he claimed he had knowledge of their steroid use, including Mark McGwire and Juan Gonzalez.
Canseco was ostracized from the baseball community for sharing baseball secrets with the outside world. He was mostly treated as a liar and attention seeker by former and current players.
With the endless investigations and failed drug tests that followed Canseco's book, Canseco was eventually credited as being the whistle-blower of one of the deepest and far-reaching scandals in sports history.
Canseco hit 16 of his 462 career home runs in a White Sox uniform, and while most if not all of his homers could be treated as being tainted because of his steroid use, Canseco was entertaining while he played, and a historic figure in the game due to his controversial turn as an author.
Dick Allen (White Sox 1972-1974)
Photo: Sports Illustrated/ John Iacono
One of the most revered and popular White Sox players of all-time, Dick Allen was in Chicago for a brief time yet made a lasting impact.
The White Sox were soon contenders and playing entertaining baseball, and in a flash, Allen came and went but has long been considered one of the greatest White Sox players of all-time.
Allen marched to the beat of his own drummer, however, and despite being loved by White Sox fans, Allen wasn't exactly considered a role model.
Throughout Allen's career, he often made headlines wherever he played and was a magnet for controversy. He fought with teammates, was frequently late to team practices and meetings, and battled team executives over contracts.
Allen was even involved in a tax evasion case which had a ruling that is frequently used as precedent for tax law.
Allen's issues may seem insignificant compared to the scandals and federal investigations of the modern athlete, but during his baseball career, Dick Allen was a lightning rod for controversy.
Hawk Harrelson (White Sox General Manager, 1986)
Photo: Getty Images
The Chicago White Sox of the last quarter century will always be linked to the catchphrases and unique broadcasting style of the team's play-by-play announcer, Ken 'Hawk' Harrelson.
While Harrelson's broadcasting style is an acquired taste for many, and not preferred by most outside of Chicago, his Southern, honky-tonk delivery and enthusiasm for the home team make him a popular figure in Chicago.
Part of the draw of a White Sox broadcast is what kind of call Hawk will make during the game's most exciting plays.
As a broadcaster, Harrelson is certainly an entertaining, yet polarizing figure. Harrelson, who had a solid playing career, had few supporters when he served as the White Sox general manager for a brief time in 1986.
During his turn as team vice-president, Harrelson famously fired manager Tony LaRussa and pitching coach Dave Duncan. LaRussa and Duncan went on to win multiple championships with the Oakland A's and St. Louis Cardinals.
During his house-cleaning in 1986, Harrelson also fired assistant GM, Dave Dombrowski. Dombrowski had been with the White Sox organization for nearly 10 years, and went on to a successful career as GM for Expos, Marlins and his current team, the Detroit Tigers.
LaMarr Hoyt (White Sox, 1979-1984)
One of the main cogs of the 1983 AL-West-champion White Sox team was the bearded hurler, LaMarr Hoyt.
Hoyt won the Cy Young Award that season, helping the White Sox win 99 games before coming up short in the ALCS against the Baltimore Orioles.
Hoyt won 24 games that season and battled through 11 complete games, including a 10-inning effort which earned him his 20th win of the season.
Hoyt's accomplishments in 1983 were impressive, yet his career was short-lived and he failed to deliver on the promise that his Cy Young Award brought.
Hoyt was arrested several times for drug possession and suspended by baseball for 60 days. Hoyt was in and out of rehab, and he played his last game in 1986.
It's safe to assume that Hoyt was a frequent illicit drug user during his six seasons in Chicago, but his career ended and his life spiraled out of control shortly after leaving Chicago.
Hoyt did try out for the White Sox in 1987, yet didn't pitch in a regular season game. His several arrests and stays in prison cut short a promising career.
Carl Everett (White Sox, 2003-2005)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Carl Everett was a key member of the 2005 World Championship team, giving the White Sox a much needed bat after an early season injury to White Sox slugger, Frank Thomas.
Everett smacked 23 homers in '05 and drove in 87 runs. While his contributions were appreciated by the team and fans, most were put off by Everett and his outspoken, off-beat nature.
The calling card of Everett throughout his career was his tendency to take contrarian views on controversial topics.
Everett is perhaps best remembered for being suspended for 10 games in 2000 for his confrontation with umpire Ron Kulpa. Everett bumped Kulpa twice while disputing a call, and had to be restrained by Red Sox teammates.
While Everett's time in Chicago was relatively controversy-free, his presence in the White Sox clubhouse undoubtedly made members of the media and possibly some teammates uneasy.
While Everett had a solid baseball career, his temper and controversial views kept others within the game at a distance.
David Wells (White Sox, 2001)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
David Wells only played one season with the White Sox, but his brief time in Chicago was notable for his poor performance and his calling-out of a future White Sox legend.
Wells came to the White Sox with big fanfare after the team won their division in 2000. Wells had won 161 games with a career earned run average of 4.06 before joining the White Sox in 2001.
Wells managed only 16 starts with the team in 2001, and had a bloated 4.47 ERA, along with an equally unimpressive WHIP of 1.40.
Wells earned $9.25 million in 2001, nearly double the highest salary of his career to that point, only to pitch poorly for a little less than half a season for the White Sox.
Wells' disastrous stop in Chicago was notorious for another reason, however. On a weekly local radio talk show, Wells blasted White Sox slugger Frank Thomas for not playing hurt. It would be found out later that Thomas' shoulder injury was so severe that he could not play for the rest of the season.
Wells eventually suffered his own season-ending injury that season and signed with the New York Yankees the following year.
One could excuse a bad season by a player, but calling out another player for not playing hurt when that player had a significant injury is inexcusable. Wells likely tops most White Sox fans' lists of least favorite White Sox players in history.
Albert Belle (White Sox, 1997-1998)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
During his two seasons with the Chicago White Sox, slugger Albert Belle was an absolute monster on the field.
Belle compiled some ridiculous numbers in Chicago, smacking 79 home runs and driving in 268 runs from 1997-1998.
Belle, throughout his career, was also portrayed as a monster off the field. He frequently had run-ins with the media and umpires and was usually the biggest target of fan abuse in opponent's stadiums.
Belle was well known to Chicago fans following a famous incident at U.S. Cellular Field while Belle played with the Cleveland Indians.
During a 1994 game between the White Sox and Indians, the White Sox informed the umpires that they believed Belle's bat was corked. Indians teammate Jason Grimsley grabbed the suspected bat and replaced it with another player's bat.
Belle was eventually suspended seven games, and gave baseball fans the lasting image of him flexing in the Indians dugout, signifying to the White Sox bench that Belle did it with brawn, not cork.
When not knocking out a baseball or opposing players such as Fernando Vina, Belle was generally regarded as being the surliest player in baseball. His most infamous moment was perhaps when he berated NBC sports reporter Hannah Storm before a World Series game in 1995. Belle was eventually fined for the incident.
While Albert Belle enjoyed some big seasons during his somewhat brief 12-year MLB career, he will always be remembered more for his raging temper than for his baseball accomplishments.
A.J. Pierzynski (White Sox, 2005-Present)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Before signing as a free agent with the White Sox in 2005, catcher A.J. Pierzynski already had a reputation as a hard-working player whom opponents hate.
When playing with the Minnesota Twins, Pierzynski's gritty and abrasive style of play made him an object of hate for White Sox fans.
Now adored by White Sox fans, Pierzynski continues to get under the skin of most MLB players. He was recently voted the most hated player by fellow major leaguers.
Pierzynski has not disappointed while playing for the White Sox. His heads-up phantom dropped-third-strike play in Game 2 of the 2005 ALCS may have turned the tide of the White Sox's postseason run that year.
Pierzynski consistently rubs opposing players the wrong way and likes to mix it up with opposing catchers. Pierzynski, feeling he deserved an All-Star nod over Texas Rangers catcher Mike Napoli, called him out in the press, and bowled him over at the plate just days later.
His most famous run-in with a catcher was in 2006 when the White Sox took on the Chicago Cubs at U.S. Cellular Field.
Pierzynski was running down the third base line before he smashed into Cubs catcher Michael Barrett. Barrett could not hold onto the ball and Pierzynski scored, emphatically slapping home plate and clapping near Barrett.
Pierzynski continues to be the guy fans and players love to hate. Once he's on your side, however, it's hard not to appreciate his hard-nose style.
Ozzie Guillen (White Sox Player 1985-1997, White Sox Manager 2004-2011)
Brian Kersey/Getty Images
One of the most controversial figures in White Sox history was former player and manager, Ozzie Guillen.
Guillen was a light-hitting defensive specialist for the White Sox for 13 seasons, and after a brief coaching stint in Montreal and Florida, Guillen was named manager of the White Sox in 2004.
Guillen inherited a talented bunch in 2004, and with a few important additions in 2005 by general manager Kenny Williams, Guillen led the team to a World Series championship.
While Guillen was revered for years in Chicago, fueled by his 2005 success, his constant bickering with Williams as well as his media meltdowns were a constant at U.S. Cellular Field during his time as White Sox manager.
Guillen often spoke his mind, and constantly called out players in the media as a motivational tool. He was a sports reporter's dream, always offering up quotable text and controversial rants.
Even Guillen's family got in on the act when his son, Oney Guillen, took shots at Williams via Twitter in 2010, further distancing Williams and Guillen before their relationship ended in 2011 when Guillen left town.
Guillen has now taken his circus act to Miami where he regularly berates players in the media and tries to juggle a team that is buckling under lofty preseason expectations.
Guillen barely made it a week during the regular season this year before his words got him in hot water. He was suspended for comments which seemed to support Cuban dictator, Fidel Castro.
While fans and players grew weary of Guillen's antics in 2011, he will still always be remembered fondly for being at the helm of the 2005 championship team.