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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

WHITESOXINTERACTIVE.COM. Totally Biased Coverage of the Chicago White Sox!

Sox and the Media
What a long strange trip it's been...
 

By Mark Liptak 

For over a century the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago media have had an interesting relationship. During that period the relationship has morphed from professional to antagonistic from the sublime to the bizarre.  You couldn’t make up some of the things that have happened along the way. Here are just a few examples:

·         Reporters Ring Lardner and Hugh Fullerton were the first to think that something wasn’t right with the 1919 World Series and eventually exposed the Black Sox “fix.”

·         Reporters almost “fawned” over then Sox manager Al Lopez in the 1950’s-1960. The relationship was not only professional but personal.

·         Those same reporters than attacked the Sox when Eddie Stanky was manager because of their hated for him and his tactics with them.

·         Then Sox owner John Allyn went on Johnny Morris’ sports on WBBM-TV and announced that if he still owned the club, announcer Harry Caray wouldn’t be back in 1976.

·         Then Sox radio announcer Jimmy Piersall physically attacked reporter Rob Gallas in 1980 after Gallas asked him a question he didn’t like.

·         Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, on national TV via Superstation WGN-TV, ripped former announcers Caray and Piersall saying “Wherever you’re at, Harry and Jimmy, eat your hearts out. I hope people realize what scum you are.” after the Sox clinched the 1983 divisional title.

·         The total lunacy that was reporter Jay Mariotti when it involved covering the Sox.

It has been a strange, bizarre, humorous, outlandish and at times sad, to say the least, dynamic between the two organizations.

This story attempts to look at the overall relationship between the two parties. We’ll go into some of the history between the two sides, the decisions that have shaped, for good or for bad, how the media has covered the Sox over time. We talked with former players, members of the Sox front office, fans and some of the current mainstream media to try to get to the answers about how things have changed, if the Sox are getting fair coverage today and what the future may hold. Like with everything else, we have to start at the beginning…sort of.   

The reason we say sort of, is because it is impossible now to find anyone to talk about how the media covered the Sox in the early part of the 20th century. The clippings are still in the archives but clippings only tell the facts… the motives of the writer, how the story was received by the public, if there was more to a story that wasn’t printed…that can only be uncovered by conversations. As stated there probably is no one left alive who remembers the 1906 Sox-Cubs World Series, there are probably only a handful of people still remaining, who were of age to remember in any detail 1917 or 1919. Because of that we pick up this story with the advent of the “golden age” of the franchise, the start of the 1950’s.

Billy Pierce has seen a lot in his over 50 year association with the team. One of the greatest left handed pitchers in franchise history, Pierce also worked as a Sox TV color analyst and has been associated with the Sox in numerous public and charitable associations for decades. He was a player for them in the 1950’s and the early part of the 1960’s.

Time and perceptions change reality. For myself, growing up in Chicago in that period, my memory of how the media covered the White Sox was one that was positive. But I was born in 1955, by the time Billy left the Sox in a trade, I was only six. In short I could have been wrong. So recently while in Chicago I asked him if this was a fair assessment of the situation; that the Sox got the lion’s share of the local coverage during that time.

“That’s a fair statement,” he said over lunch. “We had players who were nationally known like Nellie Fox, Minnie Minoso, Luis Aparicio, Early Wynn. We won the pennant in 1959 and every year had a winning season, but remember when this all started in 1951, the Sox had been losing for so long that when the media was covering us in that time they’d say ‘well the Sox are winning…but’, they didn’t know if we could sustain it. Once we showed them that we were a good franchise and could play good baseball they got on-board.”

“The writers who covered us in those days, men like Bill Gleason, Warren Brown, Ed Prell and then later guys like Jerry Holtzman and Dick Dozier really knew the game. They weren’t loud, they weren’t looking to draw attention to themselves, and they just covered us and the games.”

The time period from 1951 to 1967 saw the Sox roll out 17 straight winning seasons, the 3rd longest streak in MLB history. They outdrew the Cubs in 16 of those seasons, had seven 90+ win years and had a total of 70 All Star representatives including nine in 1954. The Cubs meanwhile in that period had only two winning seasons and were known more for Ernie Banks and the infamous “college of coaches” than anything else.      

“Coverage started to change when I got to the Sox.” So said former pitcher Bart Johnson over lunch. Johnson now 60 years old, is still tall, lanky and has a head full of hair. Only instead of a dark Afro style its snow white and straight. Times certainly change and in the 1960’s the relationship between the Sox and the media did an almost complete 180. Part of it was because of social forces the Sox had no control over and part of it was because the Sox, as an organization, made some moves that in retrospect made you wonder what they could possibly be thinking of.

The Sox continued to put out winning clubs throughout most of the decade. In fact from 1963 through 1965 they averaged 96 wins a year. They barely missed winning the pennant in 1964 and 1967 but yet the media started to drift away from the Sox as a whole. Al Lopez retired after the 1965 season. The Senor’ had a great relationship with the media and with Sox fans and that paid major returns in favorable press. He was replaced by the brash, taciturn Eddie Stanky. Stanky immediately alienated the press and frankly didn’t care what they thought about him…so the media, or some of the media, began taking it out on the players themselves. “The press loved Al and hated Eddie,” said former Sox pitcher Joe Horlen. “When Al was manager and we screwed up they didn’t come down on us as hard because of him but with Eddie when we made a mistake the press got all over us. They were just trying to get back at him.” 

While this was going on, the Cubs actually started becoming a competitive team. Ernie Banks was getting some help in future Hall of Famer’s Billy Williams and Ferguson Jenkins. The Cubs also hired the bombastic Leo Durocher to manage which generated press opportunities. Also factoring in, and which the media has never admitted, is that the Sox had become “boring.” They were boring in their style (i.e. great pitching, great defense, great speed…little hitting) they won every year (as in having a winning season) and there was no longer any news in that. The Cubs though had only two winning seasons between 1951 and 1967. When they started to win on a regular basis…well that was different. And before anyone thinks that consistent ‘winning’ makes the press start to lose interest, I can tell you a story from personal experience.

I was working in sports at KNOE-TV in the late 80’s when the New Orleans Saints finally started putting together winning seasons. They even made the NFL playoffs for the first time ever. In that stretch they won more regular season games than the San Francisco 49’ers but could never get over the hump in the post season. In fact they couldn’t win a post season game period. After four or five years of this, despite excellent football, the Superdome stopped selling out. Fans became bored because they couldn’t take it to the next level of success and the press picked up on that attitude.  The same thing took place in Chicago in the 1960’s.  

This was by no means the end of the factors that came into play in the 1960’s. After 17 years of good baseball the Sox fell apart. They lost 295 games between 1968 and 1970; rumors were rampant that they might move to Milwaukee. Race riots, which happened in Chicago on the west and south sides, conveyed a sense of fear among many in the population. The perception took root that Comiskey Park was unsafe and that fans of a certain color were taking a serious risk trying to go see a game.  The Sox had no control of the social forces which cause this upheaval but the ramifications were devastating.

The Sox compounded the problem by announcing after the thrilling 1967 season they were leaving WGN-TV for the new WFLD-TV and Field Enterprises. Sox owner Art Allyn didn’t want the Sox to have to share time and space with the Cubs and it’s true that when the club moved, more games were being televised than ever before. For the first time, Sox games were being shown from Anaheim and Oakland. The problem was though and again in retrospect it’s amazing the Sox didn’t seriously consider this, that the technology and equipment WFLD-TV was using was new and basically untested.  Reception around the Chicago area was terrible or non- existent depending on where you were.

Future Chicago Sun-Times columnist and die-hard Sox fan Richard Roeper has written about the difficulties of trying to watch the Sox in that period when the best he and his family could usually do was get a snowy, grainy picture on the TV. Additionally a simple thing as how TV sets were made in the 1960’s had serious consequences for the Sox with the move. WFLD-TV was located on channel 32 as the FCC started opening up more opportunities for more television stations by increasing the number of channels to broadcast on. The problem was, sets in that time period usually only had channels up to 13. You couldn’t get channel 32 in the first place on most sets! To do so you either had to buy a new TV with the capacity to get the higher numbered channels or you had to buy a converter allowing your existing set to pick it up. Looking back the move to channel 32 was a complete disaster. The Sox were virtually unseen in Chicago, lost a generation of fans to the Cubs on WGN-TV and were dealing with a negative or apathetic press.  1970 was quite a change from 1960.

The 1970’s was a period of relative calm for the Sox with the media. Relative being the key word and only in the context of how turbulent the 1960’s were and the 1980’s were going to be. That’s not to say the Sox didn’t have their moments with the media though.

The team was so bad and there was so little interest due to the dismal 1968, 1969 and 1970 seasons that the Sox lost their radio outlet. Even worse no mainstream major radio station in Chicago wanted the Sox, unthinkable today regardless of how bad a team may be. Despite the addition of Harry Caray to the broadcast booth, Sox games in 1971 and 1972 were broadcast over two low powered FM radio stations out of LaGrange and Evanston, WEAW and WTAQ. Half of Chicago proper couldn’t hear the Sox even if they wanted to. Fortunately Roland Hemond, Chuck Tanner, Dick Allen and an amazing 1972 season made the Sox a worthwhile property again and by 1973 they were back on WMAQ radio. 

Having Bill Veeck back as owner was always good for a few headlines although with all the uncertainty over the club there were just as many newspaper stories on the Sox possibly moving to Denver…or New Orleans or Seattle as there were on the next stunt that Veeck was pulling off. And don’t anyone think that Veeck was not conscious over how much attention the Sox were getting during his ownership tenure.

Then General Manager Hemond told the story about how Veeck would take out a ruler and measure the number of column inches the Sox were getting in the newspapers as opposed to the Cubs. If Veeck felt the Sox were getting slighted he’d call the paper and complain.

The “South Side Hitmen” who hammered their way to 90 wins, made for a memorable season in 1977 and the media was forthcoming with Sox stories but by 1979 the only real news was that Veeck wanted to sell and the stories reflected the uncertainty and poor play of the team.

Overall though and this was probably the last decade where this applied, whoever was doing better on the field, either the Sox or Cubs would have the higher attendance and get the most coverage. That was about to change radically, dramatically and significantly in the 1980’s.

The 1980’s without question titled the Chicago landscape totally towards the Cubs, how much the media was a part of that shift is open to debate. It’s the “chicken and egg” question. Did Chicago turn towards the Cubs because of media influence or was the media simply responding to what the public wanted?

Regardless, the Sox, like in the 1960’s, did themselves no favors with some of the decisions they made, not that they were necessarily bad, just that the timing wasn’t right. They were also the victim again to forces outside of their control. The bottom line was that by the end of the decade after the threat to move to Florida the Sox were practically a non entity in their own market.

When Bill Veeck sold the club to the group headed by Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn he wasn’t happy about it. They weren’t his first choice and felt they were forced on him by MLB… no matter, the new owners were in place and Einhorn gave an early indication at the press conference of what the teams operating philosophy was going to be. Einhorn stated that he wanted the White Sox to be “Chicago’s American League team…” which he repeated in the WFLD-TV documentary “Next Year Is Here” which aired in September 1983 after the Sox won the Western Division.

There were some problems with that philosophy. First it showed that despite living in Chicago and having attended Northwestern Law School, Eddie had little understanding of the mentality of Chicago baseball fans. The overwhelming majority of baseball fans in Chicago root for either the Sox or the Cubs, period. Not both.  Promoting the Sox as he did was not going to get Cub fans to show up at Comiskey Park and root, root, root for the Sox while the Cubs were on the road. To this day the only time Cub fans show up in numbers at U.S. Cellular Field is for interleague play between the two teams.  

Over and above that point, the fact that the Sox were promoting themselves in such a manner indicated they were not willing to fight for their own territory against a club that was directly competing against them. These were two Chicago teams fighting over a limited entertainment dollar. That fact remained true even if the two teams played in different leagues. That philosophy appeared to be in place until Brooks Boyer was hired and he unveiled the brilliant “us vs. them” marketing campaign.

That apparent operating philosophy really became a problem, when a few weeks after the sale of the Sox, the Tribune Company bought the Cubs. The Tribune Company not only owned the biggest newspaper in the city, they owned WGN-TV, WGN radio and eventually the cable entity CLTV. For the Sox it was the equivalent of taking a knife to a gunfight with the Cubs holding a Magnum .357.

At first the Tribune Company didn’t know what to do with what they had. As late as 1983 they were closing the upper deck because the team was bad and couldn’t draw fans. That would eventually change as John McDonough was hired to handle the marketing. McDonough, who grew up a Sox fan, performed brilliantly and hit upon the idea of promoting Wrigley Field as opposed to the Cubs. Win or lose fans would flock to see the field, drink beer, see the lovely young women and have fun. The Cubs winning or losing was irrelevant. The White Sox meanwhile, had Rob Gallas, the former reporter choked by Jimmy Piersall in charge of promotions and marketing. It was another huge advantage for the Cubs as Gallas, despite some good ideas, turned off fans and more importantly sponsors by his abrasive personality.

Granted Gallas or anybody else, would have been laughed out of Chicago if they tried the same approach the Cubs did. For the majority of Sox fans, the only thing that matters is winning or losing… all the rest is of secondary importance.

Right on the heels and dovetailing pretty closely in time with the Tribune Company buying the Cubs, was Einhorn’s idea to start SportsVision in May 1982. Briefly the idea was to start the first sports only pay-TV channel offering up a steady supply of Sox, Bulls, Blackhawks and Sting games.

While the idea was brilliant and ahead of its time, it was a catastrophic failure. Sox fans who had seen literally a hundred games a season on ‘free TV’ were not going to pay for the chance to see the team, an economic depression hit the country and in particular Chicago and many Sox fans couldn’t afford the fee for the service even if they wanted it. The idea also drove popular announcer Harry Caray to the North Side where he became a beer drinking, cheerleader for the masses.

Not that the Sox didn’t try to keep him. They actually offered him a larger contract to return in 1982 than the Cubs did but Caray balked for two reasons as outlined in Bob Logan’s book, “Miracle on 35th Street.” First Caray disliked the new owners and the feeling was mutual. In Caray’s autobiography he referred to them as “assholes.” Second Caray would have stayed if he thought SportsVision could actually work but he had serious doubts and with the Cubs still on WGN-TV offering ‘free’ games his ego wasn’t willing to take a chance on a dramatic dip in his popularity because fans couldn’t see the Sox. He bolted. At best Logan wrote that 20 thousand fans bought SportsVision.  

With only 35 or so Sox games on WFLD-TV at least a generation of baseball fans became outright Cub fans because that was all they could get on TV. It was a serious and costly mistake. (Author’s Note: For a more complete look at SportsVision and the history of baseball broadcasting in Chicago, please read “SportsVision-The Legacy” written in 2002, which can be found by clicking here.

As if things weren’t going south for the Sox fast enough, the Cubs actually won the divisional crown in 1984. It was their first post season appearance since 1945. It came on the heels of the Sox divisional crown in 1983 which diverted attention away from the South Side. Coupled with the fact that the “Wrigleyville” area became the place to be for young, upscale individuals the Cubs were able to promote not only the party atmosphere of Wrigley Field but also the fact the Cubs were actually a good team.

Superstation WGN beamed their games almost everywhere in the U.S. and areas that did not have any close ties to a team seemed to adopt the Cubs as their own. The Cubs became, in a three year period, not only the most popular team in Chicago but one of the most popular nationally.

The Sox? Well they had SportsVision…

And very early on the new Sox owners understood completely what was taking place.

“The Tribune Company has had an insidious influence on Chicago for a long time. The newspaper and WGN radio and TV can never be objective when you have the Tribune Company as owners of the Cubs and those media outlets.  There should be a federal investigation.”

That was Eddie Einhorn responding to a headline in the Chicago Tribune from October 9, 1983 entitled ‘Homer Knocks Griping Einhorn Out Of Box.’ Einhorn made that statement to reporter Bob Logan for his book, “Miracle on 35th Street.”.

But what many Sox fans and some of the media considered the “final straw” didn’t come until later in the decade.

As early as 1985 both Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn were publicly talking about the final days of the original Comiskey Park.

"Comiskey Park is not getting ready to fall down, but I would be very surprised if Comiskey Park, as we know it today, will exist in 25 years. We'll either need a new park or a Yankee Stadium-style renovation." 

That was Reinsdorf to the Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan… later in the same story Einhorn responded with this.

"We've done what we can, but we can't do it forever. This place is a dinosaur. We can't afford old ballparks. We can't afford cheap bleacher seats. We can't afford double-headers. You need artificial turf so you can get games in. In between the white lines, baseball hasn't changed very much. The big change is outside the lines, and people must understand and this place has no role in the game as it is today. We've done all kinds of things to hang on, but there are no mirrors left.”

White Sox fans generally shrugged the talk off… they were used to rumors of the team leaving for parts unknown as late as 1975 but this somehow was different. New owners were unpredictable… they couldn’t be pigeon-holed. With the facility getting ancient, a bad team on the field, collusion tactics which prevented them from getting better through free agency and a decent and popular Cubs team, the Sox for all intents and purposes faded into oblivion in their own city. Ownership continued with the theme of “Chicago’s American League Team” and wouldn’t even try to fight the Cubs for turf (not that at this point it would have done any good anyway…) by 1988 it reached a crisis point and the White Sox announced that if they couldn’t get a new tax payer funded stadium they were leaving, probably for Florida.

The media had a field day with this story. All of the nuances were widely reported (as well it should have been) and while I personally can’t recall any media member openly saying the Sox should leave or Chicago would be better off if they left, you got the sense that consciously or unconsciously the majority of the media were writing stories and reporting in a way that made it seemed to be a foregone conclusion with no hope at all for the Sox staying. Perhaps the only reporter who felt otherwise was Les Grobstein who remembered those days in his interview with White Sox Interactive.

When the Sox were talking about moving to Florida, I knew that they were going to stay in Chicago. I told people that I’d bet money on them staying. That night of the vote on the new stadium, I went to the Yankee game and I told the security people that the Sox were staying. I know some of them talked to me and were worried about their jobs. I said ‘don’t worry about it, I’ll see you right here next season.’ When I was at the park I ran into some TV people from Tampa and I asked them what they were doing here, one of them, a real redneck said, ‘We’re here to watch our baseball team.’ I said, ‘they’re not your baseball team and they are never going to be because you don’t know Chicago politics.’ Sure enough after Governor Thompson twisted arms and called in favors to keep the Sox, I saw those same reporters leaving the park. Rich Lindberg wrote about this in one of his books...I said ‘you can watch our baseball team anytime, come on up whenever you like or you catch watch them in Sarasota at Payne Park.”

Grobstein was right, through the miracle of Illinois politics the Sox were saved, new owners had a new stadium coming and a lease agreement that was among the best in baseball. But given everything that happened in the decade, given the apathy of fans, lack of media coverage, a terrible team on the field and all the other negatives, would it matter in the least as the decade of the 90’s approached?

The Sox in the early 90’s though were in a position to tip the balance of coverage and popularity back to a more equal division in the city because of certain factors. The closing of the original Comiskey Park in 1990, the opening of the new stadium in 1991 and a good young team generated tremendous publicity and over two million fans came to games every year from 1990 through 1993. The Sox almost drew three million in 1991 when according to John Helyar in his landmark book, “The Lords of the Realm,” the Sox were the second most profitable club in baseball only behind the Dodgers. 

But even with this good situation, the Sox found themselves having issues which were picked up on and reported. They primarily centered on the new stadium which had a lot of things going for it but also had some negatives, including location, architectural design, a perception about the upper deck and a drab “mall-like” look.  Amazingly despite all the efforts of the Sox both on and off the field, the city as a whole and fans in general still considered the Cubs to be at the forefront of things and coverage reflected that attitude. In the September 20, 1993 edition of The Sporting News, then G.M. Ron Schueler vented some of his frustrations with the situation. “It’s amazing. We’re a club that has been up on top all year. The Cubs have been fighting to stay at .500, and there have been days where you see them outdraw you.”  Indeed when the final numbers were in, the Cubs outdrew the Sox by almost 73,000 fans. As Harry Caray would say, “ya can’t beat fun at the old ballpark…” and with the overwhelming power of the Tribune Company and their marketing genius behind them, the Cubs were still in charge.

As the 1994 labor impasse started to come more info focus reporting of the situation both nationally and locally was balanced. No one in particular was singled out although a lot of barbs were thrown the way of Bud Selig and Donald Fehr as leaders of their respective organizations. However Jerry Reinsdorf made a mistake when telling the press in a rare get together before a Sox game that, “I’m a dove until they strike…” At that point many in the media started digging into what his role was in the labor situation and as a member of the committee that advised the commissioner on labor matters it was considerable.   It was clear Reinsdorf wanted the economic system of the game changed more to his liking and despite the fact his team was in first place again with a chance to make the postseason in back to back years for the first time in franchise history, he was willing to sacrifice a season if need be to get it realized. It was a far cry from his position during the 1981 labor situation when he declared to his fellow owners that “this standoff is insane and asinine. We should call it off” and became known as a member of the ‘moderate six.’

Needless to say, whatever the merits of his position, it did not go over well with Sox fans. Jay Mariotti, by now a bona fide sworn enemy of anything involving Reinsdorf and the Sox was brutal in his comments about what looked like was going to happen. That only inflamed Sox fans more. The season was eventually wiped out and the best chance in years for the Sox to get to a World Series was gone. Reinsdorf, fairly or not, was made to look like the power behind the throne of Bud Selig by many in the media. But even with all this, what happened next may have been the low point in franchise history.

In November 1996 the White Sox signed Albert Belle to the largest contract in history. The media and most of the baseball world were floored by the news in part because Jerry Reinsdorf was one of the strongest advocates for a fundamental change in the salary structure in baseball. He was willing to neuter his own team’s success in 1994 by standing firm in his belief for a salary cap.  

Some of the media, notably Jay Mariotti felt there were ulterior motives involved and he tried to provoke Reinsdorf at a press conference by taunting him and trying to get him to admit that Belle was signed to the deal at a deliberately high number to ‘pay back’ other owners for agreeing to end the labor dispute on terms not to Reinsdorf’s liking.

Because of the absolutely brutal performance by pitcher Jamie Navarro and the ghastly ankle injury suffered by Robin Ventura the Sox got off to a slow start but Robin miraculously came back in mid July and by the trading deadline the Sox were only 3 ½ games behind Cleveland. That’s when the organization stunned the baseball world again as Ron Schueler announced after getting the go ahead from Reinsdorf that the Sox had traded their three best pitchers, Wilson Alvarez, Roberto Hernandez and Danny Darwin to the Giants for six prospects.

The “White Flag Deal” as it was immediately dubbed, drew the ire of practically every national and local media member. The timing of the trade, regardless of its potential merits, coupled with Reinsdorf’s statement that “anybody who thinks this team can catch Cleveland is crazy” gave the appearance that the Sox were quitters. ESPN’s Joe Morgan and Dave Campbell issued strong statements on ESPN’s ‘Baseball Tonight’; Sports Illustrated had the “Sox Surrender” as their lead story.

Locally even reporters who weren’t considered confrontational, like Bob Vanderberg and Bob Verdi savaged the Sox and ownership.  From a public relations standpoint the trade was an unmitigated disaster giving the critics of the team ammunition in spades. Attendance dropped dramatically the following few seasons and the effects were still being felt in 2000 when a young Sox team stormed their way to 95 wins, yet many nights Comiskey Park had numerous empty seats. The trade just shortly removed from the labor impasse of 1994 resonated strongly in the minds of Sox fans and the media made sure that they were reminded of it often. (Author’s Note: For a more complete look at the trade, how it was reported on by the Chicago media and the effects on the White Sox franchise please read, There's A Hole In The Toe Of My White Sox; The White Flag Trade–Five Years...And Counting” written in 2002 which can be found by clicking here

Before we move along to the new century allow me to digress for a little bit and talk about fan violence and how it’s been reported when it involved the White Sox. It’s a sore point for the organization when some moron tries to do something totally unacceptable in society but it happens. And it happens everywhere…from Cleveland to Milwaukee… from New York City to Philadelphia.  Overall to the best of my knowledge it’s happened five times in Sox history but the coverage of the last two incidents is what gets fans and the organization upset.

First, here are the previous three incidents. 

* September 7, 1960 – After Sammy Esposito booted a sure double play ball hit by “Moose” Skowron of the Yankees in the 8th inning of a key game, a fan ran out of the stands and attacked Esposito. Reports differ as to whether punches were thrown or not. New York rallied with four in the 8th to win the game 6-4 and basically end any hope the Sox had of repeating as A.L. champs.

* May 31, 1971 – In the second game of a double header with the Orioles former Sox player Don Buford was attacked by a fan while standing in the on-deck circle in the 9th inning. Earlier in the game, Sox pitcher Bart Johnson hit Buford with a pitch and Buford started walking towards the mound while holding his bat. Cooler heads prevailed but when Buford went out to left field he was pelted with garbage and taunts from the fans. Apparently later on a fan tried to get his revenge. Both Sox players on the field and Buford’s teammates screamed warnings to him since his back was turned.  When Buford saw the fan coming towards him he knocked him out with one punch, then his Oriole teammates hammered the prone individual who was led away by police. Sox second baseman Mike Andrews in his interview with White Sox Interactive said the guy was “bloody from head to toe.”

* July 12, 1979 – Disco Demolition. Nothing more needs to be added.

Now to the recent ugly history.

On September 19, 2003 William Ligue and his son ran out of the stands and violently attacked Royals 3rd base coach Tom Gamboa. It was a shocking incident as the heavily tattooed and drunk father and son pummeled the 55 year old coach until help could arrive. Then on April 16, 2003 umpire Laz Diaz was attacked by a drunken Eric Dybas. The Chicago media as well as the national media reported the story, and they should have, as Sox fans and the organization were angry and upset over the image this left on the South Side.

So what's the beef universally-shared by all Sox fans about these media assertions?  Plenty! 

Read more in Part Two of "Sox and the Media" following this link!

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 

All comments and corrections (with source) are welcome. Please e-mail me at mliptak1@msn.com 


Editor's Note:  Mark Liptak is an experienced sports journalist, holding several awards for both his electronic and print media work.  He has held numerous sports reporting positions for various TV and newspaper organizations, including Director of Sports for KNOE-TV (Monroe, Louisiana) and KPVI-TV (Pocatello, Idaho), and sports writer for the Idaho Falls Free Press, where his column "Lip Service" has appeared for for a number of years.  "Lip", his wife, and cats presently live in Chubbuck, Idaho, where they collectively comprise 100 percent of the Pocatello River Valley's long-time Sox Fan population.  

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