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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Moms & Sox Fans
by Hal Vickery

When Mother’s Day rolls around, I’m always grateful for the fact that I had a very tolerant mother. She put up with a lot from me over the years. Oh, I wasn’t a bad kid or anything like that. In fact, in today’s parlance, I’d probably be referred to as whatever they’re calling nerds and geeks these days. No, I didn’t have the taped glasses or a pocket protector, but I took piano lessons and was about the furthest thing from a jock you could find.

What my mom had to put up with was my baseball fanaticism. I’ve told the story here of how I became a baseball fan in general and a Sox fan in particular. In fact, I finally picked up a copy of Lew Freedman’s book White Sox Essential last week. I recounted that story to him a couple of years ago in a phone interview, and he used it in his book.

The short version of the story is that I was playing in the back yard of my house. My grandparents lived two doors away, and I decided to go over there to visit them. My grandpa was watching a Sox game on TV, and just as I walked into the living room, Chico Carrasquel hit one out of the park. I saw the ball clear the leftfield wall, and heard Jack Brickhouse going crazy.

I ran home shouting “Carousel hit a homer,” not knowing what the heck I was shouting about, but that Brickhouse was excited, and now so was I. I had asked my grandpa what channel the game was on, and turned it on, and turned on every game after that. I didn’t even have to worry about school starting in September because I was only five, and we didn’t have a kindergarten where I was going to go to school.

I showed the version of the story in Freedman’s book to my mom when I visited her yesterday. “That’s great!” she said when she read the story. “I wish your brother was here right now to read it.”

“It’s no big deal,” I said.

“It’s more than anybody else in the family has had,” she replied.

I guess she’s right, but what I didn’t tell Freedman about was the rest of the story. I had asked my grandpa what channel the game was on, and turned it on, and turned on every game after that. I didn’t even have to worry about school starting in September because I was only five, and we didn’t have a kindergarten where I was going to go to school.

In those days, there weren’t a lot of night games, and there were Cubs games when the Sox weren’t playing. So that meant that nearly every afternoon, I was watching a ball game. Yes, I was a Cubs fan, too. My grandpa used to say he could here me shouting “C’mon Ernie!” from the TV room as he sat out on the swing during those long summer afternoons. The Sox were my first love, though. It was just that I was growing up sixty miles south of the city, and didn’t know anything about the rivalry between the two clubs. It actually took a decade of being run by the Tribune Co. that finally made me give up my interest in the Cubs.

At any rate, I was pretty stubborn about watching ball games in the afternoon. I wanted nothing to interfere with that. I still have a vivid memory of my mom telling me that we were going to walk to Glenn Mulligan’s barber shop to get a haircut one sunny summer afternoon. It was probably during that first summer of infatuation with the game. It was sometime around 1:00. Naturally I wanted to watch the “Batting Practice” and “Lead-Off Man” shows. But my mom insisted. She practically had to drag me to the barber shop.

For some reason, I didn’t know that Glenn was a Sox fan. He also had a TV in his shop, but that made no difference to me. All I knew is that I wanted to see the game. My mom had to drag me the five blocks to the shop. I cried the entire way.

Glenn asked what was wrong. My mom explained. “There’s no game today,” he said.

What? No game? I didn’t believe him. So he turned on the TV, and there it was. Some old Warner Bros. movie on Channel 9, not a ballgame! Well, that made everything better, and I’m sure my mom was relieved. I think that may have been the only time I ever threw anything resembling a temper tantrum, and it was a doozy. And it was all over a game that wasn’t.

I’m sure my mom was at least somewhat frustrated on Sundays, too. We used to eat Sunday dinner in the mid-afternoon. My mom just didn’t get the fact that at three o’clock the game would be in about the fifth or sixth inning. I used to put off going to the table as long as I could to at least try to catch the rest of the inning. And the terrible part was that she wouldn’t let me turn up the volume on the TV so I could at least listen. I had to turn the TV off!

Now how unfair can you get? But somehow I managed to survive, and I was somehow always able to see the end of the game. I’m sure I let my mom know how displeased I was with that situation. Probably every week, but she never changed her schedule to accommodate my fandom, and in the long run, I think that’s a good thing.

For one thing, it helped me to learn that there were things in life that are more important than baseball. Things like family. Things like getting things done that need to be done.

So mom, all I can say is thanks for all you taught me, and thanks for putting up with my fanaticism.

Happy Mother’s Day!

______________________________________________________________________

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.

More features from Hal Vickery here!

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