1993: Gene Lamont, American League Manager of the Year
When Jeff Torborg bolted the Chicago White Sox after the 1991 season for a lucrative contract to manage the New York Mets, not a lot of casual fans knew who Gene Lamont was. He managed in the Kansas City Royals organization for eight years before spending six seasons on Jim Leyland‘s coaching staff with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In 1992, the White Sox regressed slightly, going 86-76 — one win less than the previous year — and finished third in the AL West. But in 1993, Chicago was 94-68 and won the AL West title.
There were some good breaks along the way — right fielder Ellis Burks, coming off an injury-plagued season with the Boston Red Sox — signed a one-year deal and proved he was OK with 17 homers and 74 RBI. MVP Frank Thomas powered the offense, Cy Young winner Jack McDowell led the rotation and Roberto Hernandez emerged as a lights-out closer with 38 saves.
Right-hander Jason Bere was 12-5 after being called up late May and the White Sox brought in a veteran with postseason experience by acquiring Tim Belcher from the Cincinnati Reds at the July 31 trade deadline. Chicago even got 16 home runs from Bo Jackson, who was returning from hip replacement surgery that ended his NFL career.
Lamont led the White Sox to another division crown in 1994, but after an 11-20 start in the lockout-delayed 1995 season, he was fired after going 258-210. He later managed the Pirates from 1997-2000.