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WSI News - Season Features

September, 2000.  Continued trashing of the Sox team and fans by Chicago's media brings this angry response from White Sox Interactive. 

Losers?  Take a closer look.

by George Bova

Through 71 dates, the Chicago White Sox have drawn 1.7 million fans, an average of over 24,000 per game. They’ve already exceeded their total attendance in 1999 by 400,000 fans.  Sox fans have given them the largest increase in attendance over last year of any team in the major leagues except Seattle, a team benefiting from the novelty of their newly-opened Safeco Field.

The Sox have achieved nearly all of their attendance increase through record-setting walk up sales. After last season’s sub-.500 finish, this past winter’s season ticket sales were less than 8,000 seats--of course they will see a large boost in season ticket sales this winter for the 2001 season. The Sox are averaging 16,000 walk ups per game - surely the highest figure in all of baseball!

The local and national media have taken their shots at us Sox fans yet barely note any of the above. Paul Sullivan, the Sox beat reporter for the Chicago Tribune, sarcastically suggested it wasn’t clear whether the Sox could even sellout their playoff games. The Sox sold out all three of their A.L.D.S. games in barely an hour’s time, yet Sullivan never bothered to write a retraction -- and that's our hometown newspaper's coverage!  Sheesh...

The same September weekend the Sox sold out those seats, 38,000 bleating sheep showed up at Wrigley Field to watch a last-place tilt between the Cubs and Astros. Are these “baseball” fans? Perhaps yes, but only in loosest definition of the term.  Certainly no other team besides the Cubs could expect a sellout for such a pathetic late-season exhibition.  

For most attendees the game on the field is only an excuse for holding the day's party--drinking and singing in the middle of the seventh inning, watching the ivy grow and the bikini tops jiggle, and perhaps see Sammy hit a dinger in another lost cause.  Many of these "baseball fans" traveled cross-country to simply watch a game at "Beautiful Wrigley Field".   Could a tourism flyer have stated it any better?  I suppose the Tribune Company will next paint the slogan on the side of roadside barns where "Visit Meramec Caverns" used to be.  The Cubs can have the tourists.

What does any of this have to do with baseball?  The answer of course is nothing.

In contrast, baseball is everything on Chicago's South Side.  Several sources in both the media and the Sox clubhouse noted that the 21,000 Sox fans who cheered the team last Monday at Comiskey made more noise and were far more into the game than the 42,000 Indians fans at Jacobs Field the prior Saturday.  

More than any other professional sports franchise, the White Sox reflect their South Side home.  They've played at the same 35th and Shields location for 91 seasons--longer than any other professional team.  Since 1900 they've played nearly every home game within one-half mile of their current home.  Much like the fervent local supporters of  a college team, South Side Sox fans are born, not made. It is an unparalleled tradition in American professional sports. 

When the players betrayed us in 1919, we Sox fans stayed away.  When the owners and players betrayed us in 1994, we stayed away again.  When our team's owner sold us out with a White Flag trade in 1997, the bitterness lingered.  In retrospect, did that trade work out for the Sox?  Absolutely yes, but please don't think the San Francisco Giants got fleeced.  They traded our Sox all those prospects and yet they'll be playing playoff games in October, too.  It worked out for both teams.  

For better or worse, the Sox are the South Side and the South Side is the Sox.  God bless both of them.

If you believe baseball is foremost America’s sport played to be won, you’ve got a bit of Sox fan in you. If you believe glory can only come to those who earn the title “champion” and hate losing, you’ve got some Sox fan in you, too. If you detest the crimes committed against our sport by baseball’s millionaires (both management and players) simply to grab a bigger share of the pie--and refuse to obediently follow their Pavlovian commands to come back--then you too have a bit of Sox fan in you.

We are all Sox fans alike. To you new amongst us, we say, “Welcome!”  

George Bova is editor and founder of White Sox Interactive.

Back to 2000 Champions!


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