Hairston earned great respect
Special person left mark on players, game he loved
CHICAGO -- The brief statistical ledger for Sam Hairston's Major League career reads two hits in five at-bats during the 1951 season. But Hairston's impact on baseball, especially on the White Sox organization, runs far deeper than one run scored, one double, one RBI and four games played.Here was a top-notch catcher, who went to work alongside Willie Mays, Nellie Fox, Satchel Paige and Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe. Here was a consummate scout and coach, who tutored a young rookie named Michael Jordan, among many others, and worked for manager Terry Francona with Class AA Birmingham. This was a man who loved baseball. The game apparently felt the same way about Sam Hairston. "Some people are just special," said White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf of Hairston, who he not only counted as an employee but also a close friend. "Sam was just a wonderful, wonderful person. He was a nice man and had a special aura about him." "One of my favorites," added White Sox minor league pitching coordinator Kirk Champion, who served as the pitching coach for the Barons while Hairston was a bench coach. "He was a tremendous guy, always upbeat."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.