When I got the idea of this post last summer I had big plans for a lengthy post covering pretty much any White Sox player with Swedish ancestry. Then I got a new job and now I'm just days away from becoming a father. Needless to say, this big post has been made smaller and will now focus on only one player. Maybe a few more next year at this time?
So, I could have gone the very easy route and handled a certain current relief pitcher, or I could have written a whole lot about Swede Risberg. Swede wasn't Swedish but his father was and they probably spoke Swedish at home. Could always have been worse, Olaf Henriksen was also called "Swede" and he was Danish.
Instead I'd like to introduce Jim Magnuson. Magnuson pitched 28 games for White Sox in 1970-71 (and adding another 8 games as a relief pitcher for the Yankees in -73). 1970 was a horrendous year with White Sox ending last in AL West. Tommy John, Gerry Janeski and Joe Horlen pitched for the Sox with a bunch of other guys adding a few starts, among those Magnuson with 6 starts (another 7 in relief). A 1-5 4.84 ERA record for the rookie wasn't horrendous but also didn't help the team avoid last place.
In 1971 Wilbur Wood left his job as a closer and joined the rotation (1.91 ERA!) which also consisted of Tom Bradley, Tommy John and a mix of Joe Horlen/Bart Johnson. Magnuson spent most of the year in relief, starting only 4 games and had a 1-1 4.50 record.
"Jim" James Robert Magnuson was born 1946 in Marinette in eastern Wisconsin. His mother Florence had French background and his father Harry probably grew up in a very Swedish home. Harry's father (Jim's grandfather) was John Magnusson, born in Sweden. I have not been able to track down where but at least I've limited my options to only four. Harry's mother Mary C Lindstrom was born in Michigan to Swedish parents. Some of her siblings were also born in Sweden but the family left Järnboås parish, north of Örebro, and Sweden in 1882 four years before she was born.
|Järnboås local church|
In 1966 Magnuson put up a 0.19 ERA at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. White Sox drafted him in the 3rd round as 20 year old the same year. He would spend the upcoming 4 years in the minors and in Vietnam. In 1970 he got called-up to the Sox after putting up a 5-5 1.94 record in Mobile White Sox. He also time with the Sox affiliate Tucson Toros during 1970-71.
After the 1971 season Yankees claimed Magnuson in the Rule 5 Draft and he spent the next year in the minors before receiving a call-up to the majors again. In his last season in the major league, 1973, Magnuson put up similar numbers for Yankees as he had done for White Sox. He never pitched again in the minors and retired after the 1973 season.
Jim Magnuson died in 1991 from alcohol poisoning, at the age of 44. For now he's one of only three White Sox players confirmed to have Swedish ancestry (the other two being Swede Risberg and Matt Lindstrom). I can almost guarantee that Dustin Hermanson and David Lundquist will be added to this group too but that will have to wait for another time.