Watching the White Sox Live For Thirty Years
Tonight my father and I will head to U.S. Cellular Field to see the White Sox play the Red Sox. Thirty years ago today we made a similar trip to the ballpark across the street to see the White Sox play the Blue Jays. That day the White Sox beat the Blue Jays 5-3. Harold Baines hit a three run home run off of Jimmy Key in the first inning to help the cause of the White Sox. A lot has changed in that 30 years. Players have come and gone, and the White Sox have added a World Series trophy to their trophy case. One thing has not changed in that time. Both my father and I love this team from Chicago.
Looking Back at that First Game
That was a great season for me as a White Sox fan. The end result was not what we were looking for, but some exciting things happened along the way. The game was a few days before my 9th birthday, and just a day away from the start of the school year. The giveaway was a White Sox cloth backpack which sadly fell apart on the first day of school. This was a day of firsts for me. This was the first time that I saw Ozzie Guillen play baseball live. He was at that time an exiting rookie shortstop that would go on to win the Rookie of the Year in 1985. He of course lead the Sox to their first World Series since 1917 twenty years later as their manager. Floyd Bannister pitched for the Sox. For some reason I was in line with Floyd when I went to my first few games. He pitched the first three games that I saw live. The first two were for the White Sox, and the last was for the Royals. I would later watch his son Brian pitch 25 years after seeing Floyd pitch for the first time. The names from that first game are forever ingrained in my brain. I scored my first ball game that day, and I would look at the scorecard often for guidance in scoring games from home. A name like Garth Iorg should not be one that I recognize, but when a guy plays during your first game you tend to remember him. One interesting fact from the game is that both managers would be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Unfortunately for both teams that day they managers heyday would be with other teams. The Blue Jays would get rid of Bobby Cox and he would take over the Braves. At this time Joe Torre had just been fired in Atlanta, and was out of work. Tony LaRussa would get run out of town by Hawk Harrelson only to take Oakland and St. Louis to great places. It is amazing how a change of scenery can help a manager. More to the point sometimes a little luck in timing can go a long way.
Meeting Your Hero Before You Know That He Is
The highlight of the day came before the game started to be honest. I met Richard Dotson and he autographed my program for me. The highlight of the day though was meeting the catcher for the White Sox, Carlton Fisk. Somehow before the game my dad had us in a tunnel near the players entrance to what I think was the clubhouse. Carlton was in a bit of a slump and he was in the indoor cages getting some extra swings in. He had to make his way across this concourse to get to where he was going. He walked out of the cages, and when I saw him I might have mumbled something about an autograph. He walked a couple of feet and asked me to come to him if I wanted an autograph. He signed my program near his photo, and I had my first idol. Carlton played until 1993, and I was able to see him play a few more times in person. He work ethic and dedication to the game gave me something to strive to be. I don’t think it is any coincidence that his work ethic matched my father’s. Over the years I have gained countless things with Carlton’s photo or name on them, but that program was the first and my favorite. When I attended my first game this season at ‘the Cell’ Carlton was at the game just above my section. I had no idea that he was there, and I was a little disappointed that I missed out on meeting him again thirty years later. This is the season that the White Sox are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their last World Series title. I have been celebrating 30 years of seeing the team play live. Tonight before the game we will probably make our way out to the outfield to see that statues of both of our favorite players. Carlton and Minnie Minoso sit side by side out there so it makes it easy for two generations to revisit their childhood. My latest favorite player Paul Konerko is just a couple of sections over. Baseball is a game that is ever changing. The players on the field change, but the name on the jersey does not. Hopefully the latest edition of the White Sox can bring home a win tonight, and we can see Adam Eaton and Alexi Ramirez celebrate the win behind second base.