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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Chicago Proud
for Our Sox!

by George Bova

Anniversaries

by George Bova

A funny thing happened in Chicago this past week. It was so funny and so unique, it rather boggles the mind that nobody thought to celebrate it. It was only two years ago.

On October 28, 2005 somewhere between 1.75 and 2 million Chicagoans came out to line the streets connecting a circuitous route through seven South Side neighborhoods and the Loop's LaSalle Street canyon to greet and cheer the first world championship baseball team from this city in 88 years. Eighty-Eight Years!

This wasn't like Michael Jordan bringing home the championship trophy. It was like Michael Jordans' great great-grandfather bringing home the trophy!

Simply amazing... a feeling surrounding the city and its baseball team that crosses generations like no other sports team in the country can ever compare. This was Chicago's White Sox, a wire-to-wire first place team, a 99-win regular season record, victors over the defending world champions in three-straight games, American League champions with an unprecedented four-straight complete game victories from the starting rotation, and a clean sweep to win the world title over a team from Texas that itself had never won even as much as a pennant in the franchise's 43-year history.

As the example of the Houston Astros proves, these sorts of championships are damned hard to win. Winning even one playoff series -- or even one lousy playoff game -- escapes those teams with no such championship pedigree as our Chicago White Sox showed themselves to possess that October.

And it all culminated on the glorious afternoon of October 28, 2005. It's the day Chicago declared itself second to no other. It's the day Chicago's baseball fans came out by the millions to embrace a winner and proudly declare losing will never again be an acceptable consolation prize. It's the day the White Sox became Chicago's undisputed baseball champions.

Speaking for myself, it was my greatest day ever as a Sox Fan.

I count myself damned lucky because I got to immerse myself in this event, an event I wasn't sure I would ever live long enough to ever witness. I have plenty of fond memories of watching and cheering for my White Sox both at Old Comiskey Park and the new Sox Park built across the street, too. The pages of White Sox Interactive itself stands as testament to the very best of what Sox Fandom represents, a representation I'm proud to have coded and shared with all Sox Fans these last nine years. Books, magazines, box scores, baseball cards, and memorabilia by the bushel full; I was collecting it long before I launched this website back in 1998. And yet none of it -- not one bit of it -- can begin to compare to those memories I still have from attending this championship parade and glorious victory rally.

It was there on Harrison Street across from the UIC Pavilion, standing and cheering as wave upon wave of Sox championship buses drove eastbound towards the Loop. I was there, too, in the Loop, frantically parking my car inside a garage so I could squeeze into the masses standing underneath the Lake St L line to cheer the same heroes a second time under mountains of ticker tape. I was in the shoulder-to-shoulder throng standing in the middle of LaSalle Street vainly attempting to hear anything from the victory rally stage. I count my self damned lucky to know what my alternatives were, to scoot out of there, and hustle around the corner to Monk's Pub (a bar I hadn't previously entered in nearly 20 years, but just as warm as I remember from when I was younger) to get a seat at the bar in front of a TV where I got to see (and hear) the entire championship celebration with a front row seat and one hundred fellow Sox Fans imbibing in drinks not too dissimilar from own Guinness. It was a great time.

As great as it all was, the real love came later. The real love came upon leaving Monk's and taking an extended stroll all around the Loop. Sox Fans everywhere, long-timers and plenty others newly-minted, too. It made no damned difference for everywhere we looked the outward manifestation of our team's complete and total conquest of this city were apparent for everyone to see.

The banners draping the city were amazing. Some were official, like the ones the City of Chicago used to decorate each lampposts along every street. Enormous banners by official sponsors (like U.S. Cellular) were joined side by side with those created by brokerages and legal firms -- each proudly declaring their unequivocal support. Best of all were all the small banners, hand-written signs taped to windows and expressing the city's joy at a very human level. One window simply displayed two white socks.

This was Chicago embracing the Sox.

The civic monuments were decked out, too. The Picasso wore a very post-modern inspired Sox cap. The Bowman and the Spearmen, the two iconic statues of mounted Indians standing guard at the grand entrance to Grant Park at Michigan & Congress, each wore white socks. The horses they ride wore white socks, too.

Walking the streets of Chicago through this one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime celebration, is an experience I'll never forget.because I know what it took to get there. I remember sitting in a sea of empty seats at Old Comiskey the night of June 30, 1988; going to bed that night convinced I had witnessed the last game ever of the Chicago White Sox.

I remember, too, that awful sinking feeling on October 3, 2000 as I watched an injured Jim Parque pitch his heart out in Game 1 of the ALDS at New Comiskey, only to see the effort go by the boards (and very soon the entire season) as the Sox were swept out of the playoffs by Seattle. I remember quite vividly those two dates because I remember thinking to myself I would never see my Sox as champions. Never. That's the life Sox Fans were doomed to live, right?

And now on October 28, 2005 I am standing in the middle of the Loop proven wrong beyond my wildest dreams.

These are unique memories, the kind that are most memorable precisely because they are so completely different from any other sort of memory. It wasn't that the White Sox won a great game or even that the White Sox were crowned champions. It's the memory of all of Chicago celebrating its baseball championship -- a baseball championship, courtesy our Sox -- like the city never has before. And unless another championship drought should last four generations, a championship celebration the City of Chicago will never see again.

I'm sure my fellow Sox Fans have plenty of vivid memories of their own from this time in Sox history, too. I'm flattered if I managed to knock loose a few of those memories for you.

October 28 is a great anniversary, perhaps the greatest in all Sox Fandom. Perhaps it should be celebrated more across Chicago, too?


George Bova is editor and founder of White Sox Interactive. You can write George at george@whitesoxinteractive.com

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