Time for another Stream of Consciousness Saturday, brought to you by Linda Hill. Check her blog for the rules and the prompt.
Today’s prompt: GO
This is where my mind goes when I hear the word “GO.”
I spent some of my happiest hours at Comiskey Park in Chicago, watching the White Sox play. Most of the time, they lost, but it didn’t matter.
My family lived in Rogers Park, on the Far North Side of Chicago. Normally, Madison Avenue, the north-south dividing line, divides baseball fans in Chicago. Live north of Madison, you’re a Cubs fan; south, and you generally root for the Pale Hose. But my grandparents were both from South Shore, South 75th Streeet and the Lake (roughly), and thus were South Siders and White Sox fans. My dad, who grew up a Cubs fan, converted when he married my mother.
I started following the White Sox in earnest after my father died in 1967. For me, the highlight of the season was Joe Horlen’s no-hitter on September 10 that year. Sadly, it was all downhill after that until 1972. The descent of the White Sox coincided with the rise of the Cubs on the North Side, and it was not easy living amongst Cub fans, especially when your brother was a Cubs fan, and your best friend converted from the Sox to the Cubs in 1968.
I did go to some Cub games. In fact, the aforementioned best friend and I went to a game in 1969 and sat in the left-field bleachers, the home of the Left Field Bleacher Bums, people who had nothing better to do than hang out in the bleachers for all of the home games (all of which were played during the day) on the North Siders’ schedule. That just happened to be the day a local company was recording the reactions of the Bums for inclusion on an album of the sounds of Wrigley Field. My friend bought the album when it came out, and you can hear me quite clearly.
But that’s not the point. In 1969, the major leagues expanded, and each league was split in two, more or less geographically. The White Sox were placed in the Western Division of the American League, along with the California Angels, Oakland A’s, and Seattle Pilots. Thus the Sox played 27 games in a part of the country that was two hours behind Chicago. This meant 27 games were going to start at 10 PM Chicago time, also my bedtime. I would turn the radio on low so my mother couldn’t hear and listen to the game until I fell asleep. I’d make it as far as the fourth inning most nights, then wake up in time to hear the last out of the ballgame and shut the radio off. I was hardcore.
It has had its benefits: Mary is from Back of the Yards, on the South Side. When she told her father she was going to marry me, she told him, “he’s from the North Side, but he’s a White Sox fan.” My father-in-law and I went to several games together, smoked Camel cigarettes and drank lots of beer. It brings you closer.
I moved to the Atlanta area in late 1987, quite far south of Madison Avenue, and started following the Braves. I was used to cheering for a losing team, having spent most of my life as a White Sox fan, and soon they became my favorite National League team. The White Sox were still my favorite American League team, and I kept up with them as best I could in the pre-Internet days. Now, I can follow both of them thanks to the ‘Net.
It’s paid off. In 2005, 88 years after the last time they won the World Series, the White Sox were World Series champs again. When they made the final out and were celebrating on the field, I thought of my grandfather. He had been 12 when the Sox won the World Series in 1917, and never saw another World Series win, having died four years earlier. And I realized I was lucky: the Braves won the World Series in 1995, the Sox won it in 2005…
And the Cubs haven’t won one since 1908.