The End of an Error: The White Sox Fire Ken Williams and Rick Hahn

- Sam Fretto

“The Chicago White Sox announced that Ken Williams, executive vice president, and Rick Hahn, senior vice president/general manager, have been relieved of their responsibilities, effective immediately.” There it is, finally.

There’s been a flurry of White Sox news the last couple of days, as it’s been reported that Chairman Jerry Resindorf is looking for funds for a new stadium or potentially relocating, and it feels like this is the lowest point for the franchise in years. The White Sox, who were supposed to be in the middle of their competitive window, currently sit at 49-76, fans just don’t care anymore, and they’ve stopped showing up to games (they’re 23rd in average attendance). However, the words at the top of this page should give even the lowest of hopeful fans (me), a glimmer of hope. 

Ken Williams’ comeuppance was long overdue. He was in the White Sox organization for an entire decade before I was born. In 1992, he joined as a scout before being promoted to general manager in 2000. He remained in that role until 2012 when he was promoted to executive vice president. Within that 12-year span, he won a World Series in 2005. However, after that successful campaign, the team only made the playoffs once and failed to have back-to-back seasons with a winning record. Since his promotion in 2012, the organization won 2 playoff games, had 7 seasons below .500, and if we count this year, it would be 8. Pathetic wouldn’t even begin to describe the state of the organization right now. Williams had a successful early tenure with the White Sox as GM, finishing .500 or above in each of his first 7 seasons and being on the cusp until that great 2005 season. However, after that, he couldn’t do a single thing correctly. Baseball is a “what have you done for me lately” kind of sport, and he hasn’t done anything in 18 years.

As for Rick Hahn, I can’t think of a man who’s less qualified for the job he had. Hahn was given the GM position in 2012 when Williams was promoted. Since taking over, the White Sox failed to get to .500 within his first 4 years as GM. Then in 2016, Hahn decided it was time for a full-on rebuild and traded ace and potential Hall of Famer Chris Sale to the Red Sox. Sale was the first of many dominoes to fall as the Sox began their rebuild. There’s no point in rehashing the trades; the bottom line is that 7 years later, the guys he traded for have failed miserably. With botched free agent signings and missing out on guys like Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, and Zach Wheeler, Hahn failed to supplement the talent he did get from his once-top prospects to be a legitimate threat.

Whether it was his decision or not, the hiring of Tony La Russa also set the team back, and most importantly, he was a failure in drafting. If you go back and look at the first-round picks since Hahn took over, most of them are busts, not on the team, or injured. Although, to me, what makes his departure so sweet is his arrogance. Rick Hahn has made many media appearances throughout the rebuild, acting like he’s accomplished a single thing. With quips like, “Ask me after the parade,” or disregarding fans’ worries about the team, only for them to come true, his arrogance, along with the nonchalant attitude of Jerry Reisndorf and Ken Williams, has made this organization unlikeable to the point where I, as a fan of this team, am rooting for their downfall. 

Now that Hahn and Williams are gone from the organization, this all falls on one man: Jerry Reisndorf. He’s the one who’s going to have to steer this team back in the right direction and actually hire guys that can run this team competently. It’s refreshing to see the press release stating that Hahn and Williams are getting relieved of their duties because usually, in Reinsdorf-led organizations, the departures are mutual. Jerry has let this circus go on far too long, and even he’s tired of the act. Whether Jerry plans on selling the team or not, the future should be brighter for the Chicago White Sox.

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