Cruz came to the South Side in the summer of 1983 in a trade with the Seattle Mariners for Tony Bernazard. He was considered a spark plug for the “Winnin' Ugly” White Sox on their way to 99 wins and the Western Division title.
Next to Carlton Fisk, Cruz was my favorite player from that team. And not just because he played second base like I did in youth baseball, but his energy and love for the game was contagious.
Julio Cruz Embodied the 1983 White Sox
For me and many Sox fans of my generation, the '83 White Sox started it all for us. Cruz embodied the spirit and character of that team almost from day one. In 99 games for the Sox that season, Cruz had a slash line of .251/.311/.311 and swiped 29 bases. The image of him leaping onto home plate to score the winning run against Seattle in late September giving the Sox their first trip to the playoffs since 1959 is one that will last forever.
Cruz is the second member of that magical team to leave us in recent months. Former pitcher LaMarr Hoyt passed away on Nov. 29, 2021. Hoyt won 24 games and the Cy Young Award in '83 to anchor a tough starting staff along with fellow 20-game winner Richard Dotson, Floyd Bannister, and Britt Burns. Dotson and Burns both were pitching coaches in the White Sox minor league system for years.
The 1983 White Sox were a special team to so many and their magic was passed down to future generations. The uniforms are the chosen threads for current Sunday home games and are a popular design at sporting gear stores.
Julio Cruz’s spirit and energy were among the many reasons Sox fans still hold that summer close to their hearts. Rest in peace.