After a disappointing season and an offseason I’d rather forget (except for you Billy. I love you), I have spent a lot of time considering why I continue to root for this godforsaken team. Surely my love for this team runs deeper than nine men on a baseball field. And it does.
I will self-proclaim that I spent the first 7-10 years of my life as a Cubs fan. My mom grew up watching the likes of Ron Santo and Ryne Sandberg. She often remarked that then-Cubs radio broadcaster, Steve Stone, taught her how to play softball. My first baseball game was at Wrigley, and so, because I knew no better, I committed to the Cubs.
This began my love for baseball.
Conveniently, my dad’s father, Papa to me, was a White Sox fan and had just gone in on a weekend season ticket package with our Cousin Kurt. Suddenly, Section 544, Row 1, Seats 12-16 at U.S. Cellular Field started feeling more and more like home.
Paul Konerko, Joe Crede, Mark Buehrle, Juan Uribe, Scott Podsednik, and Jim Thome put in some good work convincing me I should switch alliances. I was a kid, I liked home runs, and many of these players provided fireworks when things started getting boring.
It’s hard to pick the exact moment I went full White Sox fan. Maybe it was the pregame visits to the Stadium Club. Maybe it was the Subway sandwiches in the parking lot before games. It could have been the moments when my Papa taught me how to properly keep score on a dollar scorecard. Was it possibly that he picked games he knew had postgame fireworks? I might even credit the man who used to sit behind us and whip his sock full of beans around when exciting things happen. Or better yet, it could have been the postgame trips to Lindy’s Chilli for banana splits.
What I do know is when my Papa passed suddenly in 2021, I clung to the White Sox and the friendly confines of 35th and Shields for comfort. I immersed myself in the team and found myself spending many weekends in the 500 level, reminiscing. Since his passing in April 2021, I have been to close to 50 White Sox games. I have seen extra-inning wins, sat through blowout losses, and screamed at the top of my lungs at ALDS Game 3. At every one of these games, I have crossed the threshold thinking about my Papa, and the new memories I was making on his behalf.
This year’s club is not the White Sox of a 2005 World Series Championship. I don’t choose this team because Jerry Reinsdorf and Rick Hahn run the team well. I root for this team because of the core memories I made surrounding it: The Elvis and Mullet Nights we attended, or games when we arrived early so I could get the kids’ giveaway, or all the times we listened to the postgame show on the radio while I dozed off in the backseat and my Papa attempted to merge smoothly onto I-94.
It’s a complicated relationship with the White Sox, one that doesn’t always make sense. Some days I am angry I have become so emotionally attached to a baseball team. Most days, I am thankful for the community this sport and this team has provided me.
And if you wanted the short answer to the simple question: Why the White Sox?
His name was Dennis Wesel.