Williams pulls off the perfect prank
The familiar refrain of “Stay out of White Sox business” turned to a little bit of funny business for White Sox general manager Ken Williams on Saturday afternoon. Williams used Gordon Beckham as the target of a well-crafted practical joke that would have made proud Dick Clark and the late Ed McMahon.
With about 10 minutes to go before Saturday’s non-waiver trade deadline, Williams purposefully walked through the White Sox clubhouse at U.S. Cellular Field and stopped at the players’ dining area. Williams got Beckham’s attention and asked the second baseman to come with him to Ozzie Guillen’s office.
Earlier in the week, Williams had assured Beckham how he wasn’t going anywhere. So, needless to say, Beckham was stunned–much like the assembled media, whose jaws collectively dropped as Beckham walked away.
“He first invited Ozzie in and shut both doors,” said Beckham with a relieved smile, recounting the story after he was let off the hook. “I kind of thought I was going somewhere.
“Then he said, ‘Last night, your at-bat against (Brett) Anderson, where you hit it back up the middle, was just a great at-bat. Now get out of here.’”
But here’s the unintentional comic value of Williams’ move. He also caught Guillen off guard, with the manager sitting unaware of any last-minute trades in the coaches’ room when Williams came to get him.
“When you walk in on the trading deadline, No. 1, every player is looking at you out of the corner of their eye,” Williams said. “So, I walked in and called Gordon over and he had this look like ‘No. Really?’
“I called him into Ozzie’s office and Ozzie didn’t know anything about it, but he saw Beckham walk in and then saw me close the door. And he went, ‘No.’ The other coaches went ‘No.’ I had Ozzie close the door and sat Gordon down in the chair.
“Then I said, ‘Well, I would really like to say one thing to you before I get into the nuts and bolts of this stuff. That at-bat you had last night, where you pushed across that run, it was one of the best at-bats you had all year. I just want to say nice job.’ Then I shook his hand and he said, ‘That’s it?”
“And I said ‘That’s it,’” Williams said. “He had a sigh of relief. Ozzie had a sigh of relief and started cursing at me.”
One more layer of perfect timing exists within Williams’ prank. Just minutes before he called in Beckham, White Sox captain Paul Konerko threw out these words of wisdom concerning Williams’ deadline maneuvers to Beckham as the clubhouse carefully watched the deadline coverage on MLB Network.
“Konerko says, ‘You won’t believe this but one minute before you walked in, I told Gordon that this is about the time in the show where Kenny Williams says, ‘The (heck) with it. I’ll give you Gordon Beckham,’” said Williams with a laugh. “Then I walked in and called him out.
“We had a little fun with it. It’s anything you can do when you are playing well and have the intensity around you to lighten the moods up a little bit. It helps things.”
Quickly revealing the joke, though, brought the greatest happiness to both Beckham and Guillen.
“A lot of names come through my mind, where I was hoping ‘We got this guy, that guy and that guy for this kid,’” Guillen said. “(Williams) got everyone in the coaches’ room. He got everyone. It was a good practical joke, and at first, I don’t know what to say.”
“It was funny,” Beckham said. “I walked back in there and (Scott) Linebrink said, ‘That’s funny if you haven’t been traded before. When you have, that’s not that funny.’ It’s whatever. It was fun. We’re having fun.”