As a teenager growing up in the golden age of AOL, I was warned against meeting strangers from the internet. Despite the many warnings, the rebellious part of me didn’t always listen.
We’ve reached a time now when we summon food, rides, and even meet the potential love of our life through apps on our phones, devices that squeeze the entire internet into our pockets. No more dial-up, or being disconnected when your mom picks up the phone.
Twitter turned into one of those apps for me. As I was on my journey of becoming a White Sox fan, I started following a handful of accounts. My new friends mostly came from a photo of a birthday cake I made my husband prior to the Manny Machado ordeal, a photo that had a lot of engagement from other White Sox fans.
As I grew into my new fandom, I befriended more fans. I was asked to write for South Side Hit Pen, and made my way to South Side Sox and Overtime Heroics to cover the White Sox. A podcast was created alongside some of the brilliant SSS talent: Keelin Billue, Janice Scurio and Colleen Sullivan. I was grateful to be welcomed by so many on White Sox Twitter, a community I never had with any other team.
With the 2020 season being closed off to fans, I connected with so many while live-tweeting games. It was a blast, and I couldn’t help but be excited to one day catch a game with so many of my new friends.
As the ballpark opened this year, I had some serious FOMO seeing so many pictures of my friends enjoying games over beers after a horrible year off. I told myself I was not ready yet, still fearful of the pandemic. I was fresh off losing my dad to the virus, and was hesitant to be back in crowds.
My FOMO peaked in the South Side Sox Slack channel, as many were planning to attend the July 1 game against the Twins. I asked around, hoping for any opinion that could sway me in either direction, and after talking it over with friends and making sure my husband (who still doesn’t feel like being in a crowd) didn’t mind, I made my return.
So off I went, and I had one of the best days ever at the ballpark. (The best? Probably my wedding night at Guaranteed Rate.)
I met up with Colleen first and ran to hug her, despite not being a hugger. My seats were with Colleen, Dick Reillo and Janice right near the home bullpen. Watching Carlos Rodón and Michael Kopech warm up was exactly what I needed.
A few laps around the concourse allowed us to meet others, and someone even came up to me and asked if I was Chrystal O’Keefe. Thanks for making me feel like a celebrity, @WFrenchman.
The group moved away from the sunny spot and ended up in the 108, where so many others were sitting. Dick and I met up with Leonard Gore, too, and I ran up to him as well for a giant hug. Leonard, a veteran of game recap fanfic for South Side Hit Pen, told me to write about this experience, so here I am.
I had the time of my life meeting so many friends. Sipping a beer and yelling at players with Colleen, the endless selfies and jokes, and walking away after a win was exactly what the doctor ordered.
With everything else going on in the world, I was able to romanticize White Sox baseball for a day, and it gave me the ability to look forward to many more games and meeting even more friends. Thank you again for welcoming me into this little corner of the internet.
Save me a spot for the parade in November.