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WSI News - Sox Interviews

Flashing Back...

...with Tommy Williams

another EXCLUSIVE from White Sox Interactive!   

by Dan Helpingstine

Dan's  interview with Tommy Williams during the championship 2000 season...

During the past few seasons, White Sox fans have been accused of being many things.  They've been called fly by nights who venture out to Comiskey only when the team is winning.  They've been praised as knowledgeable fans that go out to the ballpark to see baseball, not to get a sun tan while drinking Old Style.  They've been admired for their independence and refusal to put up with losing.  But they've also been criticized for whining about little things like long beer lines or just waiting for the worst to happen like past Chicago baseball folding acts.  Sox fans have even been blamed for the team's inability to appear in a World Series since 1959 and not win one since 1917.

"You can't put them (Sox fans) into one category," says Tommy Williams.  Williams gets a good chance to hear many opinions from and about Sox fans as an on air personality on WSCR-AM-670.  Williams' show is slotted from 8pm-Midnight, Monday through Friday, and Williams can also be heard on Saturday afternoons.

Williams feels that one segment of Sox fan is the best fan in the Chicago area.  Those are the fans that have been coming out to the ballpark in the aftermath of the 1994 strike and the 1997 "White Flag Trade."

"They didn't come out because of bars, the surroundings or the ballpark," says Williams.   "They came because of the Sox, and they kept coming."

Williams, who began at WSCR as a part-time producer in 1992, thinks that fan loyalty is something that should run deep.  He says that nothing should really chase fans away short of team management blowing up a person's house.  Yet Williams understands a fan taking a break and not supporting his team.  He remembers the empty seats and no-shows at Solider Field during the last two years of the Wannstedt era.  And, as a big Black Hawk fan of the '70's and '80's, Williams is now returning as a Chicago hockey fan after over a
decade of non-interest.

"After they lost Mikita and Hull, they didn't have the appeal," Williams says of the Chicago NHL team.  "I gave up on the Hawks for awhile."

Though he has revived interest in a franchise that hasn't made the playoffs during the last three years in a league where half of the teams go to the post-season, Williams expects the Black Hawk organization to deliver a winning product.  And while the White Sox have the best record in the American League, Williams doesn't think demanding Sox fans have given Jerry Reinsdorf or Ron Schueler full credit for the success of the 2000 season.  Williams thinks Reinsdorf is the second greatest owner in the history of Chicago sports behind George Halas and believes Schueler should be named Executive of the Year.

"Reinsdorf can't win," Williams says.  "When the Bulls were doing well, you heard about the Sox.  Now in the middle of baseball season, the majority of callers are complaining about the Bulls even though the opening tip-off is three months away.  They never say about what you do well like how well the White Flag trade has worked.

"They grudgingly give Schueler credit," Williams says.  Then in reference to his absence during the last winter meetings, Williams says that fans thought the Sox GM was out of it and  "was playing golf."    

Williams does think that fan support has a great impact on player performance.   After the Sox vanquished Cleveland and New York on a perfect seven game road trip in early June, they returned home to a capacity crowd for another game against Cleveland.  The Sox won that night, but Williams points out that the team drew half as much the next night.  He said players looked around, wondered where everyone was, then went out and lost.

Sox fans have been lambasted for past lack of support and a slow return to Comiskey for the so far successful 2000 campaign.  The media, the team front office and the players have scratched their heads searching for reasons why.  But Williams firmly believes the fans and team have turned a corner and fan interest in returning.  More importantly, he thinks there is a revived passion about the Sox.

"More of them (Sox fans) are calling in," Williams says.  "They call to complain, but they also defend their team.  If you say the Yankees are better, they're tell you you're full of it."

More features from Dan Helpinstine here!

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