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21 Years!

Posted 04-03-2012 at 04:57 AM by October26

[B][FONT=Verdana]This April, I am feeling nostalgic and sentimental as I realize that my daughter (April 3rd) and US Cellular Field (April 18th) will both celebrate their twenty-first birthdays.[/FONT][/B]

[B][FONT=Verdana]It has been twenty-one years since my husband and I eagerly awaited the arrival of our first child.[/FONT][/B][FONT=Verdana] It is hard to believe that our baby girl is now twenty-one years old. Time passes so quickly. Like most expectant mothers, I spent the weeks and months leading up to the birth preparing myself both mentally and emotionally. My husband and I wanted to be surprised so we chose not to know the gender of our baby prior to birth. Every day, I talked to my unborn child and read articles from the newspaper, particularly those from the sports pages. I spoke of great young Sox players named Frank Thomas, Robin Ventura, and Jack McDowell, and shared their statistics. I would say things like:[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]• "Big Frank had another 3 for 4 day at the plate yesterday and homered again in his first at bat;”[/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana]• “UGH - Rockin' Robin made another error yesterday;”[/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana]• “How about Black Jack pitching 7 shutout innings!"[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]In the fall of 1990, my family along with other Sox fans said farewell to Old Comiskey Park. I was 12 weeks pregnant when we attended the last night game held at the park on September 29, 1990. I was sad knowing that my child would never get to see the old park, as the New Comiskey Park (today called US Cellular Field) was being built right next door. I told myself that regardless of the venue that the Sox played in, my child would grow up to be a White Sox fan. In October, I felt “quickening” (when a baby first moves inside the mother) and with it tremendous joy. Every day that passed meant that I was one day closer to my April due date.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]The day you when you become a parent is unlike any other day in your life. It is the culmination of months of waiting and hoping to see your new baby, a new life who you know will change your life forever. I laugh whenever I see the current Johnson & Johnson commercial which proclaims: "Having a baby changes everything!" Truer words have never been spoken. After nineteen long hours of labor, I could not wait to see my new baby. I can honestly say that there has been no greater moment in my life than when I held my baby daughter for the first time. For us, the birth of our daughter was a very happy occasion. Like many new parents, my husband and I were overwhelmed, at times, by the tremendous responsibility of caring for this new life. Over the years, we did our best to provide a loving, family-centered home. Every April, we celebrate our daughter's birthday and the incredible joy she has brought to our lives. [/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]I recently came across this verse from the poet Charles Lamb. Reading it reminded me of my daughter:[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana][I]How swift have flown[/I][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana][I]To me thy girlish times,[/I][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana][I]A woman grown beneath[/I][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana][I]My heedless eyes![/I][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana][I]In vain I rack[/I][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana][I]My fancy to believe[/I][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana][I]The almanac, [/I][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana][I]That speaks thee twenty-one.[/I][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana][I]~ Charles Lamb[/I][/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]In the blink of an eye, it seems, 21 years have passed. Today, our daughter is completing her junior year in college. She is an energetic, friendly, honest, independent, fun-loving, beautiful, responsible, loyal, kind, vivacious, intelligent, young woman who enjoys life and is very devoted to our family. She is a hard worker who gives her best effort to all of her endeavors. I am very proud of her and feel honored to be her mother. My daughter and I like to cook traditional Cuban dishes. In addition to cooking, we also enjoy gardening, listening to music, and traveling together. I am especially proud of her commitment to our family and the respect with which she treats her elders (grandparents). And I’m also pleased to say that she is a die-hard Sox fan![/FONT]

[B][FONT=Verdana]It has been twenty-one years since US Cellular Field opened its doors for the very first time.[/FONT][/B][FONT=Verdana] I can remember that there was much excitement heading into the 1991 baseball season. The 1990 White Sox posted a 94-68 record under manager Jeff Torborg and featured an exciting combination of young players including Frank Thomas, Robin Ventura, and Jack McDowell and veterans such as Ozzie Guillen, Scott Fletcher, and Carlton Fisk. [/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]In April 1991, preparations were underway for the Sox to open their new stadium. When it opened, the stadium was called Comiskey Park II. I really hated that they had given it this name because the new park looked nothing like Old Comiskey Park. I saw footage of the new stadium on television and was horrified. “Where did they get those obnoxious blue seats?” I wondered. “Look at the hideous pitch of that upper deck? Our new park is a PVC jungle - it is too bright, too clean, and too new!” I exclaimed. [/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]The Sox opened the season in Baltimore on April 8 that year. I did not watch that game as my newborn had her days and nights reversed and I was still quite tired from the birth just days earlier. My dad called on April 8th to ask how we were doing and also to say: "Good news! The Sox beat the Orioles 9-1 today. It's always a good day when the Sox beat the O's. The home opener is just 10 days away!"[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]I was super excited and could not wait. Opening Day, Thursday, April 18th, finally arrived and I decided that my 15 day-old daughter and I would watch the game together from the comfort of our living room couch. I dressed her in her White Sox footed sleeper, put on my Sox gear, and held her as I watched the pre-game festivities. The Sox played the Detroit Tigers on April 18th. Seeing the panoramic scans of Comiskey Park II made me want to puke. "I hate this new stadium!” I yelled at the television. Little did I know then that the pre-game ceremonies would be the only memorable part of this day, at least for Sox fans. The game began and the Tigers quickly erased any hope I had of seeing the Sox win their home opener. The Tigers scored 6 runs in the third inning and 10 more in the fourth, defeating the Sox 16-0. My new daughter expressed her disdain for this offensive display by spitting up all over her sleeper and wailing incessantly. Clearly, she was already a bona fide Sox fan! I had left a pot unattended in the kitchen and it boiled dry, setting off the smoke alarm. My father called moments later and began swearing in Spanish as he was equally disgusted by the Sox home opener disaster. And then my husband came home from work and asked: “Hi honey, how was your day?”[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]One of my favorite stories related to the 1991 Sox home opener occurred the next day. Sox pitcher Jack McDowell believed that all of the hoopla surrounding the opening of a new stadium along with new uniforms had angered the baseball gods. So prior to game two, Sox players Jack McDowell, Robin Ventura, and Scott Radinsky burned a uniform in the middle of the diamond in an effort to wipe away any curse on the new ballpark. It must have worked because the Sox would go on to win 87 games in 1991. [/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]I could not imagine on April 18, 1991 that I would grow to love this new Sox stadium and get to experience some incredible moments there. Comiskey Park II was the site of the 2003 All-Star Game. In 2004, US Cellular purchased the naming rights to the stadium through the year 2025. Over the years, US Cellular Field has undergone numerous renovations including: the removal of the top 8 rows of seats in the upper deck and the addition of a roof, the replacement of the blue seats with green ones (except for the two “special ones”), the addition of the fan deck and batters eye backdrop in CF, the placement of new bronze statues to honor Sox players and legends, the addition of the 2005 World Series Championship Sculpture and banners, and numerous other improvements which I’m forgetting at the moment.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]The most memorable month in the park’s history so far took place in October 2005, when a talented group of grinders made every White Sox fan’s dream come true. Thanks to my sister, I was in attendance at Game 2 of the ALCS to personally witness the “AJ-drop-third-strike” play and subsequent game winning hit by Joe Crede. My family and I also attended Game 1 of the 2005 World Series on October 22, 2005 and saw our fellow countryman, José Contreras, pitch the game of his life! I thought I was dreaming when the final out was recorded and the Sox had won Game 1. As the fireworks exploded, I hugged my dad who was also at that game and we jumped up and down with unabashed joy. Four days later in Houston on October 26, 2005, we saw the White Sox win the World Series. My family and I celebrated with reckless abandon. We drove down to the neighborhood around US Cellular Field and danced and sang in the streets with other Sox fans for hours on end. We went to Midway to welcome the Sox back home. And we went to the Parade and took in all of the festivities of that phenomenal day. [/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]As another Opening Day approaches, I am reminded that the baseball season is a long grind (over 6 months long) and it features many ups and downs. In many ways, it is like riding a rollercoaster. I’m ready to hop onboard for another season of White Sox baseball. And I think I'll text my daughter to see if she'd like to go to a Sox game to celebrate her birthday. [/FONT]

[B][FONT=Verdana][SIZE=3]Here’s wishing both my daughter and US Cellular Field a very Happy 21st Birthday! Let’s Go White Sox![/SIZE][/FONT][/B]
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  1. Old Comment
    tebman's Avatar
    It's fascinating that your daughter is a living metaphor for the ballpark. So many parallels between a person's years and those of USCF.

    All of us in childhood were raw, unpolished, and bore no scars or calluses gained from experience. In adolescence we were uncertain, awkward, and prone to gaffes. In adulthood our bearing suggests that we belong in the place we are, and if not, we make changes to assure that we belong.

    The ballpark went through the same stages. Those first few years it had no personality as we sat in plastic seats among freshly-set concrete. By the early '90s it bumbled along with some changes in seating and amenities that didn't stick. And now it's matured into a comfortable state after making the changes that assured that it belongs where it does.

    The sheen of newness is gone. That's good because newness has no stories to tell. As is clear about your daughter, the ballpark has gracefully grown and matured.
    Posted 04-03-2012 at 12:56 PM by tebman tebman is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Thank you. Your analogy is both relevant and thought-provoking. As parents, we are privileged to witness the growth and development of our children. Together, we travel on this journey called life where we encounter joy and sorrow. It is important to take time to celebrate reaching those milestones deemed memorable and noteworthy. Birthdays especially provide us with the opportunity to reminisce as well as create new memories along the way.

    As you so eloquently stated, USCF has undergone a metamorphosis from an ugly duckling to a beautiful swan. When the ballpark opened, it was a painful reminder of a failed design. Certainly the renovations played a key part in altering our perceptions, but I also believe the 2005 World Series Championship White Sox did much to ease our pain. While the Championship was won in Houston, there were many memorable moments which took place at USCF. Today, those memories along with the WS Banners and WS Trophy grace our beautiful ballpark.

    I hope that USCF will host many future ALDS/ALCS/World Series games and that we are fortunate enough to see the White Sox win another World Series.
    Posted 04-03-2012 at 06:29 PM by October26 October26 is offline
  3. Old Comment
    ChiSoxGirl's Avatar
    What a great entry! The parallels you drew from your daughter to our beloved ballpark were interesting to read about. Sadly, I was only ever at Comiskey Park once - in 1987 - and have very vague memories of the night I spent there in a skybox with my family for my grandma's 65th birthday. However, I'm fortunate to have amazing, unforgettable memories of the new Comiskey Park and hope to continue adding to them in the years to come.
    Posted 04-03-2012 at 09:04 PM by ChiSoxGirl ChiSoxGirl is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Thank you. I love hearing/reading stories like yours about several generations of Sox fans attending games together. Whenever I'm at the ballpark, one of the first things I do is look around for children and their families. Seeing little ones decked out in Sox gear always makes me smile. It reminds me that the Sox fanbase will indeed continue to grow and prosper; this is something that makes me very happy.
    Posted 04-04-2012 at 06:22 AM by October26 October26 is offline

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