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The bygone days of winning that one time.
Di Billick/South Side Sox

Three generations of White Sox Fans: A Father’s Day tribute

Take my dad ... please!

“They fuckin’ suck.” — Frank Haniacek (Grandpa)
“They fuckin’ suck.” — Jim Haniacek (Dad)
“They fuckin’ suck.” — Di Billick, née Haniacek

Happy Father’s Day, White Sox fans. I’m aware of how emotionally challenging holidays honoring parents can be (especially for me in the month of May), so I promise that I won’t deliver the toxically-positive aren’t-all-dads-the-best? fodder. Instead, I’m going to lend you my dad.

Young and disillusioned, 2003
Di Billick

My dad is funny, and cool, and he’ll sit with you through anything, even when he’s uncomfortable. I think sometimes he worries that he wasn’t the perfect dad, and of course he wasn’t, but he was the only adult I fully trusted as a kid, and he encouraged me to be myself while other parental figures discouraged self-actualization. While he keeps reminding me that he doesn’t have the best memory now that his brain is turning to dust with age, he’s remembered some great memories from the past-almost-67-years of being a White Sox fan. But let’s start at the beginning.

Grandpa and tiny Di
Di Billick

My grandpa, Frank Haniacek Sr., was an adorable little goblin of a man who I dearly loved. He was 5´5´´ at his tallest, and as fast as a lightning bolt, and looking at his pictures makes me feel joy. This guy would do anything for a laugh, and I like to think he passed that to my dad, who then passed it on to me.

Grandpa looking cool as fuck at Comiskey Park
Di Billick

Grandpa grew up in a house in Gage Park with his parents, Polish and Czech immigrants, on 50th & Talman, where they kept chickens in their backyard. Grandpa was the first of our family to become a fan of baseball, and he loved the White Sox. He even tried out for the team in the 1950s, but my dad doesn’t remember how far into the process he got. Back then, they didn’t pay players much money, and Grandpa and Grandma ended up having a ton of kids (all of whom are just as fun to be around, and possess that contagious Haniacek laugh).

Grandpa and Grandma in the backyard of their house at 51st & Sacramento.
Di Billick

My grandpa would take my dad to games, but most often, they’d listen to games on the radio while throwing the ball around. Grandpa got just as pissed off as we do when they’re losing.

“Generation to generation, it’s the same. Nothing’s changed in that aspect,” Dad says.

Apparently, Cubs-hating is in our genes. Grandpa hated the Cubs so much that his best friend, Father Pete, a huge Cubs fan from St. Simon the Apostle, got him a Cubs jacket for Christmas one year as a joke. Dad was shocked that Grandpa allowed Father Pete to help him put it on.

My dad was also forced to go to a Cubs game with his family once as an eight-year-old, when his uncle scored free tickets: “We had to park in someone’s stupid yard, park in that shitty neighborhood, and walk into shitty Wrigley Field. I don’t remember who they played, or who won, or anything, I just wanted to go home.”

I’ve now been a North Sider for more than a decade, and dad comes out to see me often. When there aren’t Cubs home games, we go to Big Star, our favorite taco place, which happens to be directly across the street from the crumbling piss pit that is Wrigley Field. Stepping on enemy territory is pure love on his part, but he can’t be exposed to the stadium for too long, or his skin starts to peel off.

Dad and I have donned full White Sox gear after a game and infiltrated enemy territory.
Di Billick

Dad doesn’t remember the 1959 World Series meltdown, as he was 2.9 years old at the time, but he remembers going to a lot of games as a kid.

“Baseball games, whether the team is winning or losing, bring you closer together to the people you’re with,” he reminisces.

We talked about the White Sox games he took me to see before Comiskey was demolished. One of my favorite memories was staying for the fireworks, because I only cared about home runs and Nancy Faust when I was a kid.

My second grade perm and I, fangirling over Nancy Faust.
Di Billick

I used to love going out with my dad when it was just the two of us. My brother would be there too, usually, but Dad and I had so many inside jokes that I sometimes felt like we were alone in our own dumb little world. I remember one game in particular, when it was just he and I, and he made me laugh so hard that my stomach hurt because he was swearing so loud.

“I’m fucking BORED! LET’S GO!” is something I will never, ever forget, because I thought it was so funny.

Now, I understand that to those readers with angry dads, this may seem scary, but not with my dad, because he wasn’t really angry. He’d always laugh afterwards, and it made you feel like you were in on the joke. I always felt like we were on the same team no matter what, because his half-annoyed, half-joking swearing never led to any real anger. So Dad, even though this sounds a little crazy, your fake-angry outbursts that made me laugh actually made me not afraid of confrontation. That’s still a major issue for many of my adult friends, so thanks.

Even though my dad instilled White Sox fandom into his two kids, I didn’t start independently loving baseball until around 2002.

“It’s probably because of the games we went to.”

He isn’t wrong.

Nothing to see here.

Watching the World Series with my brother and I is my dad’s all-time favorite White Sox memory. For Father’s Day one year, I got my dad a 2005 commemorative World Series brick with our names on it, because it may have been the last time in any of our lifetimes that we’d see the White Sox win the whole show.

Our ComisculaRate Field Stadium brick.
Di Billick

We watched the final game of the sweep at his house in the West Lawn neighborhood, and the following morning, we went a few blocks away to Midway Airport to welcome the team home to the South Side. Paul Konerko high-fived my dad, which is still one of my favorite memories (but not his, even though Paulie was one of his favorite players of that era, because, as he says, he had gray hair and wasn’t a kid. I wasn’t a kid either, and it was still one of my favorite memories).

We also went to the cemetery to see my grandpa, who unfortunately didn’t live to see the White Sox win it all.

We’re No. 1! This is a totally normal thing to do, right grandpa?
Di Billick

My dad has a copy of the brick that’s identical to the one at the ballpark (and apparently it lives in his SUV), but he hasn’t seen its counterpart in quite some time.

Brickgate 2023 — will we take an industrial cement drill to the field to reclaim our brick? Stay tuned.

Brick or no brick, I will forever treasure the memories with my dad at White Sox games, and that’s something that will never be taken from me, even if the team continues to blow dicks. Which leads us to the current 2023 White Sox.

As readers know, I sometimes include texts from my dad in my articles, because we often text about games, even if we’re both watching. Text-venting with my dad during games is one of the things that makes being a White Sox fan tolerable when they’re doing as poorly as they have been.

“I hope they don’t win. They don’t deserve it,” dad says.

After watching a particularly rough outing the night before, he starts going through the roster in his head:

“Get rid of Joe Kelly. Fuck Lynn, he sucks. I hate to say this, but get rid of TA. He’s too cocky now, and he has nothing to be cocky about. This roster doesn’t work well together. They all play for themselves, not as a team. Oh, and fuck Moncada. Get rid of Bummer and Crochet. Benintendi can go.”

“Benny heats up after All-Star break,” I interject.

“It’s not All-Star break yet. Sell him.”

As Dad is going scorched earth, White Sox Suck edition, he wants to keep a few players, but he’s arguing with himself during this trade agreement with himself. He agrees that Randy Arozarena would be a great addition to our roster, but that’s after I’ve spammed him with cool Arozarena videos, stories and highlight reels, so he may be biased.

This season is the most over the White Sox I’ve ever seen my dad, and I don’t think he’s alone in his feelings.


After we went over which players he’d trade, which ones he’d keep, and who his dream trade is, we (mostly me) prattled on for a while, so I’ll spare you the ever-changing hate lists that we both keep in our back pockets. Our predictions for the season have wildly changed from the start of the season.

“They’ll win 70 games, 75 tops. They don’t deserve to go anywhere. They’ll finish third or fourth, and Twinkies will take the division. Tampa goes to the World Series.”

Seems like a pretty solid prediction, Dad.

LFG Paulie!

He shares the most dejected he’s ever felt as a White Sox fan. It was what turned out to be the final game of the 1983 American League Championship Series at Comiskey Park against the Orioles, who were up 2-1 in the series. He was 27 years old, and he and his friends sat on the first base side of the upper deck. It was a cold, windy, and cloudy sellout. The White Sox were let down more than once by Jerry Dybzinski, who failed to advance the baserunner on a bunt, and then overran second base for a devastating out.

“It was jam-packed,” Dad says. “After that last out, everyone became so depressed that it felt like all the air was sucked out of the stadium. Everyone was dead silent as they walked out.”

Surprisingly, Tony La Russa was part of what my dad loved so much about the 1983 White Sox.

“La Russa was my favorite manager. Was. Only the first time.”

He’s also a huge fan of Ozzie Guillén, and enjoyed watching him as a player.

“I don’t know about Grifol yet. I’d love to see Ozzie back as manager.”

Unpopular opinion, Dad, but I agree with you, if only to see the televised meltdowns.

Two legends.

Wherever the losing-record Chicago White Sox take us as fans, I’m lucky that my dad supports me, and not just because it’s easy for him to support me because we seem to be able to bond over baseball.

In truth, my dad has always supported me, no matter what. Since I was a kid, he’s always been my biggest fan in the audience at my shitty recitals, shows, games, and as an adult at those same things. He was even an actor in one of the pilots I wrote and produced, having never before stepped in front of a camera or onto a stage (and he even has an IMDB page for it).

I don’t have a ton in common with my dad on the surface, but I got a lot of his genes, even the defunct ones. He’s smart, fair, and hilarious. Where we differ — he’s nonconfrontational, tolerant of people he loves (even if they’re assholes), and a man of faith, which I am neither a man, nor do I have any faith. Also, thankfully, I look way more like him and his side of the family.

Goodish genes

So, White Sox fans, thank you for allowing me to share my dad with you this Father’s Day. I appreciate many of our readers expressing appreciation for the “texts from dad” portions of my game coverage, because they’re also my favorite bits.

As for my dad and I, we’re taking our catcher’s mitts and going to the park today. We’ll put the game loud on the radio and throw the ball around, just like dad and grandpa used to do. There will be a lot of F words.

I hope you have a great Father’s Day, whether you’re a dad, grandpa, or great-grandpa, or if you’re hanging out with your own dad. If you don’t have your own, mine’s on loan to you. Feel free to listen to the game on the radio with us, in spirit.

“I miss my dad,” can mean that he’s no longer on the Earth, but it may also mean that you miss what could have been in your relationship. Whether you’re separated from your father by death, abandonment, neglect, or if your dad is horrible and you’ve distanced yourself for your own peace of mind and safety, I wish you a Happy Father’s Day, from my dad and I to you.

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