We complete our trip around the diamond with the four center fielders to memorialize on a Chicago White Sox Mount Rushmore at the position. We’ll conclude the series with the four best utility players.
The White Sox haven’t had a center fielder selected for the Hall of Fame but that doesn’t mean there have not been some outstanding ones.
The qualification line was a player had to have played at least half of his games with the White Sox at the position while compiling 1,500 plate appearances. There were 17 that made the cut:
- Ken Berry (1962-70)
- Ping Bodie (1911-14)
- Alejandro De Aza (2010-14)
- Adam Eaton (2014-16)
- Happy Felsch (1915-20)
- Ken Henderson (1973-75)
- Lance Johnson (1988-95)
- Fielder Jones (1901-08)
- Mike Kreevich (1935-41)
- Jim Landis (1957-64)
- Rudy Law (1982-85)
- Chet Lemon (1975-81)
- Johnny Mostil (1918, 1921-29)
- Alex Rios (2009-13)
- Aaron Rowand (2001-05)
- Chris Singleton (1999-2001)
- Thurman Tucker (1942-44, 1946-47)
Mount Rushmore of White Sox center fielders: Happy Felsch
Our first face for the Mount Rushmore is a controversial one, the third selection from the players banned for life after allegedly throwing the 1919 World Series. But Happy Felsch was a terrific center fielder for the Chicago White Sox, with above-average power and solid defense.
The White Sox acquired Felsch from the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association in August 1914, giving up a minor-leaguer named Andrew Slight and $12,000.
Felsch, a Milwaukee area native, was the primary source for Eliot Asinof’s book “Eight Men Out” that later became a movie detailing the Black Sox scandal, according to the Society for American Baseball Research.
He made the opening-day roster in 1915 and settled into center field almost immediately. He came into his own in his second season, hitting .300 with a .768 OPS to go with seven homers and in 1917, Felsch drove in 99 runs for the eventual World Series champs. In the Series victory over the New York Giants, he hit .273 with a home run.
Felsch appeared in only 52 games in 1918, leaving the team got 12 days in may to visit his brother, who had been seriously injured, at a Texas Army base. He came back to the team, but left again on July 1. About three weeks later, Felsch said he wanted to go back to the American League with any team but the White Sox.
He cited disputes with team owner Charles Comiskey over his pay, abstinence from drinking and the reaction to his Texas trip, as well as a conflict with second baseman Eddie Collins. But Felsch returned in 1919, hitting .275 with a .764 OPS and seven home runs. His 24 home runs in the 1910s were the most for the franchise.
Felsch struggled against the Cincinnati Reds, intentionally or not, hitting .192 with three RBI in the eight-game loss. His 1920 season was the best of his career as he hit .338 with a .923 OPS, 40 doubles, 15 triples, 14 homers and 115 RBI before he — like the other seven Black Sox still on the roster — was pulled from the team on Sept. 28.
In six years with the White Sox, Felsch hit .293 with a .774 OPS in 749 games and 3,135 plate appearances, adding 135 doubles, 64 triples and 38 homers. He drove in 443 runs and scored 385, with 88 steals and 86 sacrifice hits.
After being banned from the majors, Felsch played in Montana and Canada until 1930 and it wasn’t until the 1960s that he opened up about the events of 1919. He died in August 1964 at the age of 72.