Teams like the Red Sox, Cubs, Yankees and Dodgers are name brand, nationally followed teams. There are so many Cubs or Yankees “fans” around the globe that the majority of them couldn’t tell you a thing about their “teams.” You might refer to them as “the common fan.” What makes us special, Sox fans, is that we do not consist of just common fans. Sure, there are some Sox fans who don’t exactly follow the team, just like there are some Cub or Yankee fans who DO follow their teams. But the majority of Sox fans know baseball and they know their team.
Amongst most South Side families, the Sox run deep in that family, like hair loss or brown eyes. Our families have lived and died with the Sox, from Charles Comiskey to Bill Veck, to Jerry Reinsdorf. They aren’t just a team that keeps us entertained or gives us a place to go during the summer, they’re part of our family, making nightly visits into our living rooms or places of business through our television or radio, guided there by the smooth, eccentric voice of Hawk Harrelson or the monotone of Ed Farmer. When they lose, it seems as though, for a brief moment, we will never feel happiness again, and when they win, the sun is a little brighter and the air, a little cleaner. We could recognize one of our players by the way he stands in the field, his batting routine or the style of facial hair he sports.
When “Don’t stop believin” comes on the radio, we don’t think back to the 80’s… our minds are “swept” away, back to 2005, the greatest year Sox fans have ever known. Instead of Steve Perry and ‘Journey’ we think Aaron Rowand, Scotty Pods, Paulie and the “journey” they took us on. Everyone knows where they were when Uribe recorded the most important 6-3 putout in White Sox history, bringing the commissioner’s trophy back to 35th and Shields, thus igniting the powder keg of happiness that was the South Side of Chicago.
When someone says “1959” we think Nellie Fox, Go Go White Sox, and the first Mayor Daley setting off the “air raid” sirens in Chicago in celebration of a White Sox American League pennant. Half the City thought we were being bombed while the other half was dancing in the streets.
When the power goes out and someone yells “blackout” we think 163 in 08. Drama with the Twins, again. Jim Thome’s monster blast to the fan deck, Ken Griffey Jr.’s peg from center field and John Danks, the untouchable.
“83” isn’t just a number, its Winning Ugly, the blue and red logo, LaRussa was manager, the Sox had the rookie of the year award (Ron Kittle) and the American League Cy Young (LaMarr Hoyt). The Sox were in the playoffs for the first time since the 1959 series.
“93” was Bo’s blast and good pitching all season, Frank Thomas going yard with his flattop hair cut and Ozzie was still playing short.
1906 was Sox over Cubs in the series, giving us the ultimate bragging rights. The first World Series in Sox history
1917 was the benchmark that took 88 years to overcome
I don’t even like to wear dress socks because they’re “black socks…. “
Our dedication to this team is unsurpassed; the strongest feelings can be aroused by just mentioning a number or a word. When the White Sox are successful everything associated with that success and happiness is embedded in our minds and stored there for the rest of our lives.
((One more example (on top the ones already listed above) If I say “Jose Valentin” to most Sox fans, the first thing that comes to mind is a walk off winner in the cross town classic. A little Hispanic man with a dynamite mustache and his hands over his head in victory as he trots to first base. ))
We are working class, we have roots in the community that were there when Sears was THE department store and the stockyards were the center of industry in Chicago. We might not be able to sell every ticket to every game, but its not because we don’t love our team, its because we have jobs…… We aren’t Sox fans because thats the “hip” thing to do, we love them because they represent us, they’re humble, scrappy, hard working, prideful, they aren’t flashy, they play with a chip on their shoulder and don’t expect anything from anyone.
When things go wrong they don’t blame anyone but themselves. Sox fans deserve the most respect from the baseball world, because we lost as long as the Red Sox and the Cubs did, but we didn’t go around, bitching at the world about it and making excuses. We kept our mouths shut and played the game.
The White Sox bring families together; they give total strangers common ground to walk on. 50 years from now you might not be able to remember exactly when your old man taught you how to mow the lawn or do your homework, but you’ll remember to the day you die when he took you to the ballpark; when you sat together down the line and the age gap between you ceased to exist, becoming two boys again, cheering on your hero’s in a stadium on 35th street that became a palace, housing your most precious memories, connecting you to your father, grandfather, great-grandfather who all experienced the same thing decades before you. There is a history there, I take absolute pride in being where I’m from and the working class background and White Sox fandom that has paved the way for me to become who I am. I thank my Father and my uncles, who have allowed, taught, and invited me into this great tradition that exists and has existed amongst us South Siders for over 100 years.
And that my friends, is everything that being a Sox Fan means to me.
Feel free to share what being a South Sider means to you and or your favorite Sox memory. Happy Opening Day. Go Sox!