It began like any other Friday before a long weekend, stuck at my desk anxiously awaiting the moment when I'd get off work and enjoy a three day weekend of what was expected to be great weather. I was equal parts excited and lethargic. My company had purchased a pair of scout seats at the Cell when they first became available in 2005, but I had only been with the company for about a month and didn't expect to get the tickets any time soon. I figured they were mostly used for clients and/or higher-ups. And even if they trickled down to the rest of us, I was so low on the totem pole that it's be a long time till I could get them.
As luck would have it, my boss is the one who purchased the tickets for the company, and we share a secretary. Normal procedure is for her to send out an email to the underlings if nobody with clout wants them. This time, perhaps because word had already gotten around about my affection for the Sox, she discreetly offered me the tickets for that night against Cleveland. I could barely contain my excitement (and borderline professionalism) while thanking her profusely. She then explained how they worked and what was included. It was too good to be true, seats 6 rows back and all you can eat and drink from 90 minutes before first pitch until the 7th inning. My excitement instantly went up, my drive to do any actual work that day fell precipitously. The comments from the SSS faithful did nothing to quell my excitement. Although I would normally have taken my fiance to the game, she had a friend visiting from out of town for the long weekend. So I brought a buddy and fellow Sox fan.
Fans with scout seats are permitted to enter a special gate south of Gate 4, where they are ushered into a dining area which somewhat resembles a college dorm cafeteria. The best things about the "Scout Lounge," as it's known, are the huge bar, the ample buffet, the wall of White Sox memorabilia, and the servers who constantly bring fresh drinks. So, everything really.
I dropped my friend's ticket off at will call (I wasn't going to pass up free food and drinks waiting for him to get there) and browsed the memorabilia, ate some delicious food and downed a couple Heinekens from the friendly wait staff. The Scout Lounge is a full bar so you can get any liquor drinks you want along with the standard fare Miller products on tap and a couple premium brews by the bottle (unfortunately, they did not have any of the microbrews that are available at other parts of the park). I had several of each, and that was just while waiting. The food was good, and most of all, plentiful. It included pork tenderloin, beef tenderloin, brats, some appetizers, cheese, and a couple of other things I didn't have room to try (i.e. salads and vegetables). Don't forget to tip your server though. At one point I was just kind of wandering around and went to the bathroom. When I came back my table had been cleared and our server seemed to jokingly (haha, yeah right) think I had stiffed her.
Finally, my friend arrived and we finished eating and perused the memorabilia. They had a couple neat items, including game worn jerseys by several Sox favorites. Below is a picture of the last pitching rubber at old Comiskey. There were also bats, helmets, other gear (a pair of A.J.'s shinguards from 2005) and a lot of vintage promotional posters and advertisements. There was also a wall of pictures from some of the notable "celebrities" that had thrown out first pitches recently, including rain delay theater star George Lopez.
At the very end of our time in the Scout Lounge, Kenny Williams and his wife decided to join us for some grub. My informal poll of people sitting by me in the scout lounge (the two cute girls at the table next to us; Yes, I'm engaged but I'm also a good wingman) revealed that a lot of the people there were not actual season ticket holders, but similar to myself, had received tickets from various companies who had packages.
After fully gorging myself, it was finally time to head out for opening pitch. Our seats were 6 rows back from home plate and about 8 seats toward third base, right on the aisle. The seats were large and padded, with a little drink table between each set. This came in handy for the continued flow of free drinks and food. Outside, only the draft beers were available along with a select number of typical ballpark food fare (Nachos, hotdogs, Italian beef sandwiches, ice cream, etc.). A couple "specialty" cocktails were also available. All this was served by another waitress that would take your order and bring things directly to your seat. During this time, though, the Scout Lounge bar remained open and would let you stock up on premium beers (complete with plastic lids) that you could bring back to your seat. Given the amount of alcohol already consumed, I made frequent trips to the bathroom near the Scout Lounge, which also meant frequent trips to stock up on premium beers and spirits. It was a delightful cycle. Here is the view from our original seats:
The game was exciting, as most of you know. There were lots of fireworks from the offense and Quintana did a great job even though you could tell he was pretty nervous in the first inning. I won't rehash the game since it was a couple days ago and most, if not all of you, have seen the highlights and read the recap. I did have an interesting conversation with the family in the seats behind me, who were some of the few people to personally have season tickets in that section. As you can imagine, he was quite wealthy (he owned the patent for the cardboard boxes that Big Macs are served in) but also a really nice guy who shared some great stories.
Finally, people in the seats in front of us started filtering out in about the 7th inning. After stocking up on drinks before the bar closed after the 7th, my friend and I (with my three beers) decided to take the opportunity to further improve our seats and moved to the second row right behind home plate. Here was the view from our new seats, where we stayed for the last two innings:
I can be seen in the mlb.com highlight of Shelley Duncan's ninth inning home run. I'm the guy in the black Sox t-shirt who is taking a drink above and to the left of Shelley Duncan before he hits the HR. Overall it was a great time and the best way I've ever watched a Sox game. The food was excellent and all the staff was extremely polite. Best of all, it was a White Sox winner.
I hope it goes without saying, but I didn't write this post to brag, but rather just to share my excitement about the experience as well as to let anyone know how fun it is if you have an opportunity to get the tickets. A quick check of stubhub before posting this revealed scout seats available for $200 to this Friday's game. If you drink and eat like I did, you should still get a pretty good value from them.