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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Being a Fan?

I have been a White Sox fan for over 40 years.  I remember, as an eight
year-old, going to bed in tears because the Sox broke a tie with a run in the
top of the ninth in Cleveland only to see the Indians win with two in their last at bat.  And because the White Sox have broken my heart so many times
since then, I am always cautious of investing too much emotion in them.

However, what really amazes me are fans that think one has to live with rose-colored glasses to be a fan.  The fact that I am harder on the Sox than other teams is because I want so desperately for them to win and prosper.  I don't care when the Cubs blow it again.  In addition, I refuse to go into denial just because I hope for great things in the future.

Along with being a fan, I am a writer and a journalist.  This means I have to
have a degree of objectivity.  My book even credits Jerry Reinsdorf when the
credit is due.  But objectivity also means taking a hard look at the team even if it hurts. 

To those who think the past is past, I have one thing to say: History forgotten is history repeated.  All of us need to learn from past mistakes.  The trouble with the White Sox organization is that they won't admit errors, and they have no sense of history.  In the mid '90's, the Sox had a real opportunity to take over this town.  The strike ruined that and things just worsened.

Though I have been disillusioned by the Sox during the past 40 years, I will
never stop being a fan.  Many people who read my book have told me that
they enjoyed the memories.  But the book also showed the White Sox have made too many blunders since the late '60's.  No organization can survive in
today's economic market and thrive if it loses credibility.  If you think it can,
just look at Enron and Arthur Anderson.  Enron's name has already been  taken off the Astros stadium.

One other problem the White Sox have had is that they think fans are  somehow obligated to come out to the ballpark.  No one has any such obligation.  People may spend their spare money and time where and how they please.  I know my main obligation belongs to my wife and daughter, not to Jerry Reinsdorf.

My book is self-published.  I paid for the printing and other incidental costs myself.  If the book doesn't sell, I lose money.  As a first time, unknown author, I knew I was taking a financial risk.  I won't moan and cry if I lose money like the White Sox organization does any time there's a small crowd at Comiskey.  I am very proud of my book and even if I don't sell another copy, I will still be proud of it.  Three everyday fans helped me prepare the book for printing at no or very little cost.  I have no agent or big time publisher behind me.  The support of these fans will be forever appreciated, and I have no regrets.  I'd do it all over again even if I failed to sell one copy.  And I hold absolutely nothing against anyone who is not interested in buying or reading the book.  I'll leave that type of bitterness to the White Sox.

I stand by what I have written in my columns and in my book.  I don't need to
have a favorite player to know that this franchise seriously needs to turn things around.  As I wrote in my last column, the White Sox can do some very
simple things to help revive interest in the team, and many of these things would cost them little or no money.  The fact that they probably won't is not
a good thing for fans that want to see a winning and popular major league
baseball team on the South Side of Chicago.
 

Editor's Note:  Dan Helpingstine is a free lance writer living in Highland, Indiana.  In the early 80's, he worked as a stringer for The Times, then based in Hammond, Indiana, covering business-labor news.  For six years, he worked as a part-time sportswriter for the Merrillville Herald, a weekly that was a part of a chain of weeklies in Lake and Porter Counties.  He covered high school football and basketball.  In 1995, Helpingstine had a short story published in a murder mystery anthology entitled Murder Is My Business.  He also has had articles on the JFK murder published in the Post-Tribune of Gary.  His new book is titled "Through Hope and Despair."  It is the story of one fan's roller coaster ride with the luckless White Sox.

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