Mount Rushmore of White Sox catchers: Ron Karkovice
Ron Karkovice’s career may not have turned out the way the Chicago White Sox had hoped when they took him 14th overall out of Boone High School in Orlando, Florida, in the 1982 draft, but Karkovice was in turns a solid backup to superstar Carlton Fisk and a solid starter in his own right after Pudge retired.
Karkovice struggled at the plate, often, but his defensive work more than made up for that. He threw out 41% of would-be basestealers in his career, including more than half of those who tried while the White Sox were winning the AL West title in 1993. He earned the nickname “Officer” because of how well he dealt with attempted theft.
He was called up in August 1986 and split the next two seasons between Triple-A and Chicago before earning the backup job on his own in 1989.
By 1992, Karkovice had supplanted Fisk as the No. 1 catcher and in 1993 pulled off a rare feat by hitting 20 home runs while also compiling 11 sacrifice bunts.
Karkovice became a free agent after the 1997 season and signed with the Cleveland Indians in January 1998 on a minor-league deal, but never played for the team. After going on the disabled list in late March of that year, the team and the player agreed on his release in July 1998.
He led the AL in caught stealing percentage three times (1989-90, 1993) and was known for his defensive ability, but never won a Gold Glove — voting for that award in that era seemed to center as much around the bat as the glove.
In 12 seasons with the White Sox, Karkovice hit .221 with a .672 OPS in 939 games and 2,948 plate appearances, at one time holding the franchise record for home runs hit by a player who only played for the White Sox with 96. He also drove in 335 runs and scored 336 while accumulating 65 sacrifices.
He spent the 2000 season as a manager in the Kansas City Royals organization and managed the Camden Riversharks in the independent Atlantic League in 2013.