White Sox: The Mount Rushmore of middle relief

Phil Watson
Damaso Marte of the Chicago White Sox. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Damaso Marte of the Chicago White Sox. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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The 1959 Chicago White Sox reached the World Series. (Photo by Herb Scharfman/Sports Imagery/Getty Images) /

Mount Rushmore of White Sox middle relief: Gerry Staley

Like many pitchers of his era that wound up in the bullpen, Gerry Staley went there when he could no longer be an effective starting pitcher. But Staley embraced the new role and extended his career in grand style as a top reliever for the Chicago White Sox.

The White Sox claimed the veteran right-hander off waivers from the New York Yankees in May 1956 and Staley worked out of the pen and as a spot starter. Pressed into the rotation in September because of a backlog of doubleheaders, Staley did throw three straight complete games wins between Sept. 9-23.

He never made another start in the majors, settling in as a valued fireman for the White Sox. He led the league with 67 appearances, 37 games finished and tied for the lead with 15 saves in 1959 as Chicago won its first pennant in 40 years. He was chosen for both All-Star games in 1960 at age 39 and three times worked more than 100 innings out of the pen for the White Sox.

In June 1961, the 40-year-old Staley was traded to the Kansas City Athletics in an eight-player deal.

In parts of six seasons with the White Sox, Staley had a 2.61 ERA and 1.148 WHIP in 270 games and 541.2 innings, with 38 saves and an average leverage index of 1.190. Typical for the era, Staley pitched to contact, with per-nine-inning rates of 3.5 strikeouts and 2.1 walks.

He began his career with Class-C Boise in the Pioneer League in 1941 and after two seasons there was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in November 1942 minor-league draft. After three years in the Army as a medic during World War II, Staley got called up for the first time in April 1947.

Staley was an All-Star as a starter for St. Louis in 1952 and 1953 before he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in December 1954. In September 1955, the Yankees claimed him off waivers from Cincinnati. He finished his career with the Detroit Tigers in 1961 before he was released after the season. He spent three years as pitching coach for the Triple-A Portland Beavers after his career.

He died at age 87 in January 2008.

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