Photo by Kevin Kenealy after a White Sox winner
Now that the promise of the baseball season appears even more murky with the contract dispute between the owners and players, I am feeling nostalgic once again, and am thinking back to some of my favorite memories from watching the White Sox all these years. Below is a list of my favorite moments growing up as a Sox fan.
1) We had to leave Comiskey Park because I was scared of the exploding scoreboard.
This was my only memory of the old park, and it was my first White Sox game. I was about three years old, and we had to leave the game because I didn't like the sound of the board going off. I'm sure it annoyed my dad to have to leave the game, but being able to hold on to a memory of the old park is special to me.
2) Frank Thomas hit a homerun on the concourse.
I can't remember what year or what game this was, but Thomas really got into one, and the ball traveled all the way into the concourse, of which I was walking on at the time. It bounced just about fifty feet away from me.
3) Paul Konerko's ground rule double grazed my fingertips.
This was the closest I ever got to getting a ball. I was at my friend's bachelor party sitting in left field, and ball fell right off my tips and into the hands of a nearby fan. It was quite a moment.
4) I played catch on the field with Mike Huff.
He wasn't the most popular of Sox players, but it was still awesome as a kid to go on the field and do this. As part of the Bulls-Sox academy, we got to go through the clubhouse and onto the field to play catch with one of the players. It was surreal.
5) I played the National Anthem with the junior high band.
What a feeling that was. My junior high band director was a huge Sox fan, so naturally we got along great. It was one of the coolest field trips I had ever been on, and we of course stayed for the game afterwards.
6) I went to Opening Day when it was snowing.
I attended opening day a couple years ago, and we got the last seats in the upper deck. You couldn't drink enough hot chocolate to keep warm. The day captured the Sox season in a nutshell that day, as the Sox had a comfortable lead going into the later innings and blew it, just like they would do all year. But the memory of sitting there with my dad will never be forgotten.
7) I attended Spring Training this year just before the Pandemic hit.
I watched the Sox take on the Rangers, and seeing Eloy and Robert hit back-to-back homers on a beautiful day was heaven. The Sox lost that game 8-7, but I could tell that they were a much improved team over recent years.
8) I remember watching Shingo Takatsu pitch.
I never saw a curveball like he had. For that first half of '05, he was unhittable, and it was amazing watching him pitch.
9) I shook my head at the TV screen when Philip Humber got his perfect game.
For anyone who saw the last out, he didn't exactly deserve it. And for someone like Humber to get a perfect game, it was so strange. I recall watching it at a bar in Oak Lawn, and even Sox fans were saying, "What?!" when he got that last out.
10) I yelled at the TV in excitement when DeWayne Wise made 'the catch.'
I miss Mark Buehrle. He may be my favorite Sox pitcher of all time, so when Wise went up and made that circus catch, I jumped up and down and screamed in joy. We all know what happened afterwards.
11) The '05 Series run was one of the happiest times of my life.
God, I hope I witness another time like that. I worked at Saunoris' Garden Center at that time, and I recall yelling out in excitement when the Sox made a big play while I broke down boxes in the back room, or when I listened to Ed Farmer on the radio call out a final out against the Red Sox. I remember watching a game with friends outside with a bonfire. I recall trying to stay up for the Geoff Blum game, but making myself go to bed (since I worked the next day) and found out that he hit the miraculous homer the next day. I remember AJ taking off to first and laughing at the situation. And best of all, I remember celebrating when they won. When of the first things I did was text my uncle, a huge Cubs fan, "Did you see the game?" I didn't get a response back. I think with the team they are building now, they have another real shot, but let's just hope we can see that promise land again.
12) I've sat in just about every corner of the ballpark.
I've seen Randy Johnson pitch while sitting behind home plate, ate my fill in chicken with the dining package under the stadium, took in the sun and smacked fellow Sox fans' hands after home runs in the bleachers, sat in awe in the box, lurched forward in the upper deck, and sat in the lap of luxury in the skybox. I think the stadium gets a bad rap as one of the worst stadiums in all of baseball, but I think they really gave it a good overhaul over the years, and it really is a beautiful place to watch a game, and it's much cheaper than going to a Cubs' game.
13) My nerves shook as I asked Frank Thomas a question at SoxFest.
He's my all-time favorite White Sox player, and I asked him the question, "What advice would you give to young players who are looking to make it and pursue their dreams?" It was something along those lines anyway. He gave me a long answer, and that was so meant so much more to me than simply getting an autograph.
14) Ken Griffey Jr.'s throw home and Jim Thome's walk-off
2008 was the last year the White Sox made the playoffs, but what a way for them to make it! If you don't remember that game, it's really a shame. Griffey was only a shell of the player he used to be when he played for the Sox, but when he threw out Michael Cuddyer at home from Center, it brought back flashes of his old days. Then when Thome got that hit in game 163, it brought back an excitement not felt since '05. What a crazy ending to a crazy year.
15) I watched Eloy beat the Cubs on a homerun where he broke his bat.
Watching a former Cubs prospect beat the Cubs with a walk-off homerun where he broke his bat at Wrigley was something truly special. I watched the game with my brother and my dad and you could swear there was a party in our house. That's how loud it was. We not only love the Sox, we really don't like the Cubs. So when Eloy hit that amazing homerun and silenced the Cubs crowd after that tooth and nail game, it was delightful.
Those were my favorite Sox memories out of many memories. What are yours?