Now then – how about you? I’m not asking who your favorite player is, that’s different than who you’ll choose to support. Favorites are favorites – we all have ‘em. Just ask your parents. Who you root for is different. That requires choice and intent. And the player you pick should be someone you want to receive your support, your advocacy, and your cheers.
Making the pick back in the day
I remember when Scott Radinsky came up with the Sox in 1990. As a rookie, he had to carry the towels out to the bullpen before games. No one knew who he was. I have a booming voice, so I would scream at the top of my lungs, “RAD!!” repeatedly during that walk. After a few games, he would hear it during that walk and turn his to see where it was coming from. I realized he was hearing me.
When the new Comiskey Park opened in 1991, the bullpens were located in the outfield with easy access for fans (not necessarily the best idea, but this is a story for another post…). During my first game there on April 27th against the Yankees, I made my way down and there he was leaning against the back wall with Bobby Thigpen and Donn Pall. From that close distance I let my cheer rip: “RAD!!” Thigpen looked at Radinsky and said, “Hey, it’s your fan.”
Here’s a better story. Later that year in ’91, I remember sitting in the right-field seats and chatting with a woman and her grandson in the row in front of me. I had great seats in the second row of Section 106, which is the second section in front from the foul pole. She mentioned she tried to fill the void of his father who had left the family by taking him to games like most of our dads did with us. I immediately felt empathy for him, so I began playing the father figure and imparting the gems of my wisdom (sic) to this young fan.
How to be a good fan
One of the important components of being a good fan, I stated to the boy, was not only rooting for the team but picking certain players and pumping them up. “Everyone loves a Frank Thomas,” I said, who was playing first base in front of us on that day, “but for every Frank Thomas there’s someone lesser known who really needs your cheers; someone like…” I paused for a beat to look across the field and select someone not necessarily a household name.
Robin Ventura was playing third base, couldn’t pick him. Ozzie Guillen was at short, another nope. Lance Johnson stood crouched in center field, while Tim Raines stood at the ready in left. Geez, there had to be a better example to prove my point.