Memories That Go Beyond Baseball
Last week, I sent out a tweet asking for our followers to submit their favorite White Sox ballpark memories. I did this because I was randomly thinking about how many incredible memories this sport has provided for me over the years; memories that go way beyond baseball. That and I’m beyond ready for the season to start. This offseason has been BRUTAL and this arctic rush ain’t helping.
I wanted to find out what you have experienced and to let your stories get out there. I received some great submissions – more than I expected – so I handpicked a few of my favorites and I’ll include my own personal stories in a subsequent blog at some point. Some stories were on the deep and meaningful side while others made me laugh my ass off. Let’s get into it!
Our first submission comes from Jon who had an awesome day at the park with his father a few seasons ago that went very unexpectedly.
“On a September day a couple of seasons ago, I had my best day ever at the ballpark. As a Chicago transplant that started visiting family here in the mid 90’s, my dad took me to my first Sox game many years ago. Even though I was a kid, I remember that day like it was yesterday when I fell in love with the city of Chicago and the White Sox. Fast forward quite a few years, I now am blessed to call Chicago home, and proud to be a season ticket holder. Although my Dad and I are now 800 miles apart, the White Sox continue to be a tradition for us when he is in town. On that September day, my Dad and I arrived to the park pretty early to the game and decided to hang out in the shade of the concourse to watch the Bears game on the TVs. While we were standing there, two ballpark employees walked up and handed us Sox gift bags, and also informed us to that we were the Stubhub fans of the game. What started out as just a pretty routine day at the game spending time with my Dad turned into seats behind home plate, an appearance on the video board, an experience that my Dad never dreamed of, and memories that we’ll share forever.”
This story is pretty damn cool. Expect the unexpected when you’re one of the few people at a Sox game! The one semi-nice thing about the team not drawing huge crowds is that if you’re in attendance, there’s a good chance you’ll get taken care of. Whether this is in the form of nice gift baskets and seats behind plate or just not having to wait in line for bathrooms, it can be kind of nice. Although for me personally, I would take a winning product and a packed house over low attendance and $1 hot dogs any day (well the dollar dogs are kinda cool actually, details to come on a ChiSox Weekly hot dog eating competition).
Our next submission comes from our very own Jonnie Nonnie with a few stories of his own:
“I’ve had plenty of great memories at the Sox games over the years, but I’ve got two that really stand out to share with you.
The first is Game 2 of the 2005 ALCS, A.K.A. the Dropped Third Strike Game. Let me preface this by saying that my Grandpa and my Dad are two of the most die-hard White Sox fans I’ve ever known, and they raised me the same way. Anyway, I was in sixth grade at the time. It was a gloomy Wednesday afternoon and I was hanging out at my cousin’s house after school. I was about to leave for flag football practice, but then my Dad called my Aunt and had her put me on the phone. He said, “Forget practice, we’re going to the Sox game tonight.” I was ecstatic. Huge stage, Buehrle on the bump, time to bounce back from dropping Game 1 the night before. My Dad picked me up and then my Grandpa, and we were off to The Cell.
We got to our seats in Section 528 ready for some White Sox playoff baseball. Things started off well. Buehrle threw a scoreless first, Podsednik reached second on an error, Iguchi bunted him over, and Dye drove him in. The White Sox faithful was feeling pretty good. Fast forward to the fifth inning, when things got a little dicey. Quinland led off with a home run for the Angels to tie it up, and then Buehrle gave up a single to Erstad. Luckily the Sox defense tightened up and cut down the lead runner on back-to-back plays before a lineout ended the top half of the inning. The White Sox almost responded in the bottom of the fifth, but a timely pitching change by the Angels mitigated that threat as Dye struck out with men on second and third to end the inning. The whole stadium was on edge as latter innings passed with no scoring.
That brings us to the bottom of the ninth. Everett grounded out and Rowand struck out. Oh boy, this game was gonna go extras. A.J. had other ideas. He worked the count full, but went chasing low at strike three. He took a step across the plate toward the Sox dugout, glanced back at Josh Paul trotting off the field, and then took off for first base. This guy even had the audacity to slightly round first base to further his case that he “knew” the ball hit the dirt. The crowd, although just as confused as the Angels were, erupted in cheers while A.J. stood on first base clapping his hands. Everyone booed as the Angels disputed the call, but it was too late. A.J. Pierzynski had stolen first base. The rest is history. Pablo Ozuna came in as the pinch runner and stole second without a throw. Crede sized up the 0-2 pitch and banged it off the left field wall for a walk-off double. The crowd absolutely exploded as Ozuna crossed home and victory fireworks lit up the sky. I jumped up and down, hugging my Dad and my Grandpa as we celebrated. It was a chant and cheer-filled flood of White Sox fans walking down the ramps and through the parking lots back to our cars. We blasted the postgame radio show on the drive home while shouting our praises for A.J. Pierzynski over the car speakers. It was a night of White Sox fandom I will never forget, and I got to experience it with the two men who raised me to be such a die-hard fan. MERCY!
My next story to share took place last season. It was Crosstown Cup Weekend at The Rate in mid-September. The Saturday game was the lone Cubs matchup included in my 40-game plan, and I had a kick-ass tailgate (Crosstown Wasted) planned with the 108ers for that one. But on that Friday, Tony Marchese hit me up asking if I was going to game one of that series and if I wanted to meet up and tailgate. I didn’t have tickets, but I thought “What the hell, I’ll head up there and see what happens. Worst case scenario I’ll just head to Shinnick’s and watch the game at the bar with fellow South Side die-hards.” I got off the train and headed to Lot C, where Tony was tailgating with his buddy Jake Trojan. We sipped some brews and tossed some bags as I told them about my plans for the afternoon/evening. Jake said, “How about I buy your ticket and you buy me beers in the game?” Of course, that’s an offer I couldn’t refuse. And where did our tickets happen to be? You guessed it, smack dab in the middle of Section 108. Fellow White Sox Twitter personality Austin Dzik met up with us for some parking lot beers before we moved our party inside the stadium and met up with Beefloaf in the 108. The beers were flowing and so was the White Sox offense (surprisingly). Daniel Murphy led off the game with a home run, but Reynaldo Lopez shut down the Cubs lineup in his following six innings. The Sox had three separate three-run innings in the game, which led to many celebrations like this:
After Nate Jones locked down the final out of a 10-4 White Sox winner, Tony, his wife, Jake, Austin, Beefloaf and I went back out to Lot C. We continued the party there until we were the last ones in the lot and security kicked us out. We then made our way over to Shinnick’s to further extend the celebration. I always have a good time at the ballpark, but it’s just better when the White Sox win. Needless to say, I had a damn good time at one of the best games of an otherwise terrible 2018 White Sox season.”
Jonnie wrote us a novel and I love it. Two awesome stories here, taking us all over the emotional roller coaster. I can confirm that the Nonnies are all White Sox/no bullshit kind of people, so reading the story about the A.J. dropped third strike was special.
I’ve had some great experiences at games with Jonnie myself. Him and I are like Cheech and Chong when we roll up to The Rate. This past season I went to two games in a row with him the week that I got back from my two month stint in Europe for work. What an awesome experience that was, but man did I miss our greasy Lot B tailgates. It was fitting that that was how I spent my first few days back on U.S. soil. I’ll be sure to mention some memories with him when I come out with my personal blog.
Our next submission came in video form from a follower named Danny. It looks like Danny had an awesome birds eye view for Daniel Palka’s walk-off bomb to left field from a late-season 2018 game against Cleveland. It couldn’t have come at a better time because this game didn’t have much action at all before that. Palka must’ve been thinking the same thing and wanted to send the fans home happy because I don’t know how the hell he hit this pitch. Hopefully we see a bunch more moonshots from the heartthrob of the 108ers this season.
Speaking of the 108ers… our next submission comes from the drunk uncles of White Sox Twitter themselves! They discussed this matter on their 1/08 Day livestream so check out 6:30-9:15 in the video to hear what they have to say.
As a witness to and instigator of the debauchery that went down in that story, I can confirm that this was a damn good day. The tailgate with Sox On 35th, Sox Mafia, and White Sox Dave went off the rails REALLY quick. I actually jumped through a table with Dave (yes that was me and yes White Sox Twitter roasted me for my shitty form I fucking get it.. no excuses but no one’s ever fully prepared to jump through a table.. and few actually answer the call) and Dave’s Ray Bans were nearly destroyed by some crazy chick. All good, clean fun! After many more beers at the game we all stumbled over to Shinnick’s, a local Bridgeport pub, where more heinous activity ensued. At one point we even got some J-Mo shots on the house which means we must’ve been giving them plenty of business prior to that. I can neither confirm nor deny these allegations but that’s how things typically go when we roll into Shinnick’s with such a motley crew. From there the real magic happened when we rolled into The Ballpark Pub scorching hot and behind schedule for Jonnie’s round table cameo. He got up there and somehow nailed every question that was thrown his way while I glared up at him in drunken approval.
I even won a t-shirt for asking a really dumb question, but the end result was a net loss for me as my Ray Bans also broke and I paid about $70 for a Lyft back to the suburbs. Addition by subtraction I guess!
Awesome stories from an awesome fanbase. I’m ready to run through a wall and make 2019 the most memorable season yet!