Celebrating the South Side Sluggers at SoxFest 2017
By Chris Meiman, Curator & Exhibits Director
Fans of Chicago’s South Side team are excited for the annual SoxFest and Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory is happy to help celebrate the proud history of the Chicago White Sox by bringing our Mobile Museum to the Hilton Chicago.
The highlight of the experience will be the return of our on-site bat-making demonstrations. Fans of all ages love to see expert hand-turners make bats the old-fashioned way, right before their eyes! Plus, the Mobile Museum is much more than just watching a bat made by hand, it features all kinds of amazing artifacts from Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory’s collection.
The Sox are celebrating the 100th Anniversary of their 1917 World Series championship team and the Mobile Museum will showcase some amazing pieces, headlined by the first-ever opportunity to hold a bat used by Hall of Famer Eddie Collins (pictured below). Collins, a master at the dead-ball game of slap-hitting and base-stealing, remains the franchise leader in steals (368). Collins was a lynchpin of the 1917 team with nine hits in the series win over the Giants. Also on display will be an endorsement letter from 1926 signed by Collins when he was the manager of the club.
Famous Sox Slugger, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson (pictured below), and Hall of Fame catcher, Ray Schalk, were also on the 1917 team. Fans will see the Museum’s rare “Shoeless Joe” bat that he used in barnstorming games after his lifetime ban, along with Schalk’s original promotional bat contract and a replica of his bat.
The White Sox will celebrate a different kind of team, the 1977 “South Side Hitmen,” who slugged their way into contention with curtain call after curtain call. Two unusual items on display will be original bat models created by third baseman Eric Soderholm and outfielder Richie Zisk (pictured below).
Soderholdm slugged 25 home runs that season on his way to being named the AL “Comeback Player of the Year” while Zisk, in his only season with the Sox, hit 30 home runs and led the club with 101 RBIs. The Museum will also feature a Chet Lemon replica bat. At the age of 22, “Chet the Jet” had the best Wins Above Replacement stat on the team and was an all-around star.
Of course, other Sox legends will be featured in the Mobile Museum, including game-used bats from 1974 AL MVP Dick Allen, DH extraordinaire Harold Baines, future Hall of Famer Jim Thome and fan-favorite Paul Konerko. The Museum will also have “rubbing boards” similar to our giant Signature Wall at the Museum in Louisville. The board features the names and signatures of some of the great White Sox players in history who signed promotional contracts with Hillerich & Bradsby Co. over the years. Finally, look for the White Sox helmet made from LEGO® bricks by artist Jeff Cunningham as a preview of our Big Leagues Little Bricks™ exhibit which will feature a model of old Comiskey Park made from LEGO pieces!