When Frank Thomas was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014 it was the culmination of the career of one of the greatest players in White Sox history.
It was also likely the last time for the foreseeable future we’ll see a player enter Cooperstown with a White Sox cap adorned on his plaque.
Despite a lack of team success for the better part of the team’s history, the Sox are far from deficient when it comes to inductees in the Baseball Hall of Fame. 12 different players have gone into the Hall of Fame with the White Sox as their primary team (this is including Carlton Fisk, who has a Red Sox logo on his cap but whose primary team is listed as the White Sox), tied for the seventh most all-time.
In fact, since the first Hall of Fame class in 1936, the White Sox have never gone more than 14 years between Hall of Fame inductees, with Thomas breaking the latest streak after 14 years between him and Fisk.
That said, after Thomas, finding the next White Sox Hall of Famer is an incredibly difficult exercise.
There are plenty of players who have or will enter soon who spent some of their careers with the White Sox, mind you. Tim Raines had four successful seasons in Chicago, and Jim Thome will likely join him in his first year of eligibility next year. But logos for the Expos and Indians will likely don those two caps.
So, who is the next White Sox inductee? That’s pretty tough to figure out.
The recently retired
The only two players from recent White Sox history who will generate any sort of Hall of Fame discussion are Paul Konerko and Mark Buehrle, and, unfortunately, both likely fell short of Hall of Fame-worthy careers by varying degrees.
Both are incredibly beloved on the South side, and that’s perfectly fine. Statues, number retirements, all that is great! Konerko and Buehrle are White Sox legends, but that doesn’t necessarily make them baseball legends.
When guys like Fred McGriff, Larry Walker, Mike Mussina, and Curt Schilling are having trouble sniffing 50 percent of the vote, Konerko and Buehrle just aren’t going to cut it.
The recently traded
The most obvious candidate for next White Sox Hall of Famer until about six weeks ago was Chris Sale, and even then, it still might be!
Sale spent the first seven years of his career with the White Sox, tossing 1,110 innings, won 74 games with a 3.00 ERA while accumulating 31.1 WAR. The path to him entering the Hall as a member of the White Sox is tricky, however.
Step 1: Become a Hall of Famer. This one’s easy. While Sale has been stellar through his first seven seasons, it will take a lot more before we start buying tickets to Cooperstown.
Step 2: Bounce around. It’s safe to say if Sale spends more than seven years in Boston, that’ll wind up where he’s most remembered.
Step 3: Don’t be too good for Boston (or wherever he plays after Boston). Randy Johnson played 10 years in Seattle and eight in Arizona, but he wore a Diamondbacks hat in his plaque because, as good as he was for the Mariners, Johnson won four straight Cy Young awards and a World Series in Arizona. That stuff matters. If Sale only plays a few years in Boston but rips off some Cy Young seasons and a World Series or two, it’s game over.
So, yeah, a lot needs to happen. But the chances of Sale wearing a White Sox hat at his 2032 Hall of Fame ceremony are still there.
The current roster
It’s safe to say if someone on the White Sox as currently constructed winds up in Cooperstown it will take quite a bit of A) luck and B) time.
There’s Jose Quintana, of course, and there’s at least one alternate reality out there where he spends the rest of his career with the White Sox. He’d have to become a Hall of Famer, of course (I’m going to stop pointing that out for the duration of this article, because you get it).
Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Reynaldo Lopez, etc., etc., you get it. If one of these guys becomes a Hall of Famer, it won’t be until, say, 2037 at the earliest. A 23-year drought!
The actual answer
The next player to enter the Hall of Fame with a White Sox cap on his plaque will be Minnie Minoso. Some how, some way, Minoso, who died in 2015, will be elected to the Hall of Fame. And it will be long overdue.
Despite a worthy resume, not to mention his significant cultural impact to the game as the first black Cuban to play in the majors and the first black player in White Sox history, Minoso never garnered more than 21.1 percent of the vote from the BBWAA ballot before falling off the ballot after the 1999 cycle.
The most recent opportunity the Hall had to elect him was in 2014 when the Golden Era committee failed to elect any of its 10 candidates. Minoso garnered eight votes from the 16-person committee.
Minoso’s next opportunity will come when the Golden Days committee votes again in 2020 (the Hall recently altered its Veterans Committee standards), and unless those panels come to their senses sometime soon, the next time we see a Hall of Famer come from the White Sox is likely far, far away.
Lead Photo Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports