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Sox Park Primer!
by Hal Vickery

It was only a matter of time before the bandwagon jumpers would decide that The Cell is the place to be this summer. It appears that with the Sox hovering around thirty games above .500 that the time for their appearance has arrived.

With the Cubs currently mired below .500, it’s pretty likely that there will be many disenchanted Cubs fans among those jumping on the Sox wagon. In addition there will be Sox fans who haven’t set foot in the ball park since the 1994-95 strike or the White Flag Trade of 1997. Still others may simply be casual fans or “Chicago fans.”

For all of you who are coming to The Cell for the first time, here is a primer of basics you should know that will allow you to appear like one of the regulars.

• It is permissible to call the ball park “Comiskey.” The accepted name by the regulars is subject to some controversy, but most have settled on one of three names: The Cell (probably the most common), Comiskey Park (its old name), or simply Sox Park (which a lot of older fans called the old ball park). Unfortunately Steve Dahl’s attempt to call it “The Joan” after Joan Cusack, U.S. Cellular’s spokesperson, didn’t catch on. Call it that and you’ll probably get vacant stares from the regulars.

• Sox fans don’t do “the wave.” In fact most scorn it as something that it pure ‘80s. In the past, when the Sox were regularly drawing 2.5 million people, many of whom were the fans to whom this column is being directed, the wave was a frequent occurrence. It fell out of favor when Sox attendance dwindled to something just over half that amount, and so far this year, most attempts to start “the wave” have failed. Try starting it, and you’re liable to get at least a verbal tongue lashing depending on the state of inebriation of your critics.

• Sox fans are mostly not drunken louts whose sole purpose in coming to games is to charge players or umpires or get into fights in the stands. They are not teetotalers either, at least not all of them. Some do get into fights, depending on their state of inebriation. However, be aware of this. Mr. Ligue was not even a baseball fan according to his ex-wife. Mr. Dybas was a Cubs fan according to his then-fiancée. Most Sox fans come to the games to watch baseball.

• Speaking of that, you can tell the regulars at Sox games because they know the history of their team. So bandwagon jumpers should heed this warning: If you don’t want to sound like an idiot, if you haven’t been a Sox fan all that long, don’t try to impress anyone, such as your date, with your baseball knowledge. You are liable to have a fan sitting below you turn around and regale you with the facts.

I generally refrain from doing that, but I have friends who can only take so much. I was alone last Friday night when a person with a Sox cap (new) and T-shirt (new) watched “Know Your Sox” snippet on the scoreboard. When Tim Raines came on to tell his favorite kind of candy, this “veteran fan,” who had been telling his wife about all of the changes since he was there “last year,” like the upper deck, said, “Tim Raines! He hasn’t played in years. They need to update that.” I couldn’t take any more of that. I had to turn and inform him that Raines was our first base coach, and since he was doing his trademark race to first base I pointed him out. Had I been with a friend, I probably wouldn’t have had to do that.

I did manage to restrain myself a few seconds later when this “longtime fan” started telling his wife what a slugger Raines had been in his playing days. “He was kind of like the Sammy Sosa of the Sox,” he said. All I could do was laugh, especially considering that when Raines played for the Sox, Sammy Sosa was the Sammy Sosa of the Sox, although he was best known for flailing away at breaking balls, low and away.

• Sox fans somehow show admirable restraint when Cubs fans come to The Cell dressed in full Cubbie regalia, even when they loudly root for the opposition. However, not all Sox fans, as we’ve already noted, are sober, and not all of them can put up with constant dissing of their team in our own ball park. It is wise that if you are one of those Cubs fans who just has to show his team loyalty by heckling a better team, be aware that bad things can happen to you, especially if you take the first punch. For example, Sox Security may ask you to read the Chicago Telephone Directory.

• Speaking of drunks, it is not polite to throw up on the fans around you. This may be common on the North Side, but it is regarded as bad etiquette at The Cell.

• Sox fans also do not throw back home run balls. This is regarded as just plain stupid. You can tell the newcomers to The Cell who sit in the outfield because they are the ones yelling “Throw it back.” For those of you who are casual fans please note two things.

First, the balls thrown back at The Shrine are usually substitute balls. Only an idiot would throw back a real souvenir baseball. Of course I have noted a lot of bleacher bums on the North Side not switching balls lately.

Second, those urging you to throw it back are also refugees from the North Side or casual fans like yourself. You will only get scorn heaped upon you by the regulars if you give in to the loudmouths.

• When singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” the correct phrase on the South Side is “root, root, root for the White Sox. Please don’t forget and sing “Cubbies.” Also don’t try to impress anybody by saying that the Sox copied the singing of baseball’s anthem from the Cubs. You would simply be showing your ignorance.

To begin with, Nancy Faust, has been playing the song since 1970. Second of all Harry Caray was an announcer for the Sox before he went north. Bill Veeck was the person who put a live microphone in Harry’s hands and suggested that he sing along with Nancy.

• Do not show your ignorance by saying things such as, “Harry Caray wrote Take Me Out to the Ball Game for the Cubs.” That would surprise the heck out of Albert Von Tilzer and Jack Norworth, who wrote the music and lyrics, respectively, in 1908 after Norworth saw a sign advertising baseball at New York’s Polo Grounds.

We hope this little list helps you as you adjust to life at The Cell. If any Sox regulars have any additional dos and don’ts for our newfound fans, please feel free to send them to me by clicking the email link below. If I get enough of them in the next week, I’ll pass them along in the next column.


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 chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are not necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at hvickery@svs.com.

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