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WSI News - Season Features

March, 2000.  The first glimmer that this team has a chance to capture Sox Fans' hearts.

Sox Fans Coming Back?

by Hal Vickery

If this piece is posted when I think it will be, I'm busy "celebrating" (and I use that term very loosely) my fiftieth birthday. We went through that trauma last week, but in the intervening time something happened that makes me feel some optimism about Sox fans returning to the fold.

Last week tickets went on sale for individual games at Comiskey Park. At the same time, the Sox had their annual garage sale, a meeting for leaders of group outings, and pick-a-seat day for potential season ticket buyers. Seeing as I'm on the borderline of poverty as it is, I didn't participate in the last of those activities, but I was able to observe the others. And what I saw makes me feel pretty optimistic.

Granted, the first people who passed me as I passed by the ticket booths headed for the garage sale were wearing Cubbie blue, but they were the most obviously out of place when compared to the vast majority of those standing in line. There was a lot of silver and black being worn, and that's a good sign. The lines appeared to be longer than any I've seen the past several years. Every ticket window behind home plate was open, and each one had a line stretching almost to 35th street. There were even a few people at each ticket window when I drove off at 2:30 that afternoon. Last year, I was at the ballpark at the same time, and I was the only person getting tickets. In fact, the salesperson who greeted me as if I were the first person he'd seen in years. Not so this year.

The garage sale seemed more crowded, too. People were let into the ballpark tunnels behind Gate 6, and were backed up into the street before the doors were open. I had arrived about a half hour early, and still had to wait another ninety minutes before I got in. Lots of people still want Sox stuff. The person who confused me the most, though, was the one who purchased not one but two Jaime Navarro jerseys. I hope he gets back on his medication soon.

Finally, a group to which I belong is planning on having a Patio Party during the Cleveland series in May. (I won't do too much blatant advertising, but you can get details at the group's web site which has a link from this site.) It was held in the bullpen bar. When they started serving food, they realized that there was not enough room for all the people who had showed up, so they opened up the patio party. This would indicate to me a higher than expected level of attendance and more groups
coming to the ballpark than in the past few years.

The signs are there. The people are ready to come back. They saw the "kids" last year, and learned that they really could play. Last years higher radio and TV ratings are starting to translate into increased ticket sales. The fans are coming back!

Now let me ask any holdouts here. What's the real reason you're not coming back to Comiskey? You don't like the upper deck? You didn't seem to mind it all that much when the team was winning! You resent Jerry Reinsdorf for the strike in 1994? You need to let go of the past! You're upset about the "White Flag Trade"? That was in 1997! Look at the calendar, and then tell me if you'd rather have Keith Foulke and Bob Howry on your pitching staff than Wilson Alvarez and Danny Darwin. You really resent that the Sox made no effort to sign Robin Ventura because you liked him so much? Well, where were you when he was still playing for us? 

Fans resent players who make excuses. I think fans should be held to the same standard. There are no excuses for not supporting the guys who are out on the field day in and day out, busting their butts. The fans are starting to come back. Wouldn't be fun if they came back not as a trickle but as a torrent? Wouldn't it be fun to see Comiskey Park rocking like it was just a few years ago? It can happen, but it's up to every one of us who call ourselves fans. We need to do more than just say we're fans. We need to act like fans get out to the ballpark. The time is now!

Editor's Note:  Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old.  For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon.  When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers physical sciences at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL.  He obviously likes to drive because he commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with Lee, his wife of 25 years, their son Jeff, and Buster T. Beagle.

Hal's opinions are strictly his own and do not necessarily reflect those of North Boone High School or Buster T. Beagle.


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