On June 15th, 1983 a trade was announced on the Comiskey Park scoreboard that resulted in a chorus of boo’s from around the park. Fan favorite, Tony Bernazard, had been dealt to the Mariners for a diminutive Second Baseman named Julio Cruz.
At 28-32 at the time of the trade no one could have predicted what “Juice” would do for the team the rest of the way. Julio’s energy, speed and clubhouse attitude were robustly credited for the White Sox 71-31 record after he joined the club. Not ever much with the bat, that 102 game run with the White Sox was his best stretch as a professional player. Julio’s defense at the time was stellar, making acrobatic plays with ridiculous range from deep in the hole and from well behind the second base bag on many, many occasions. In the 83 playoffs (most of us want to forget) Julio hit .333 and reached base on walks another 3 times, in an anemic lineup he continued to be the bright spot during that ill fated run.
1984 dawned with a new six year deal for Juice, unfortunately he would never be the same player again. A nagging toe injury kept him from performing well on the base paths and field, yet he still played in over 140 games. In 1985 he was mainly platooned with Scott Fletcher and saw even more reduced time.
1986 would be Julio’s final season with the club, and in the league. Cruz would play in just 81 games that year, another leg injury limiting his time, and compile a dismal .215/.343/.225 slash line. There were days when Juice would still sparkle defensively out there at second, but his best days were clearly behind him. After showing some flashes of brilliance in the 1987 spring camp, Julio was hurt again and ultimately released by the club on March 23rd, 1987.
An unlikely hero, and spark plug, for one of the most unlikely division title winners in history, all White Sox fans of that era will always remember Julio jumping across the plate in the pennant clinching game against his old mates while scoring the winning run…his sunset was a gloomy one, but his zenith was remarkable.
source – white Sox history Facebook group