I’m happy that baseball season is underway. I have enjoyed baseball all my life. I give a lot of credit to my parents, both Cub fans, who allowed me as a lad to root for the White Sox.
The best part of baseball is that you can always see something that has never happened before, even though the sport is over 100 years old. And it’s a thinking-man’s game. Where to locate a pitch. Where, if you’re the batter, to try to drive the ball. What route should a fielder take to the ball? Should a runner try to advance on a flyout? People call the game slow and boring, and it has its moments, but when it’s good, it’s very good.
Though I was born in Cedar Rapids, I was raised in the northern suburbs of Chicago. The Cubs, back in the day, had a far-superior TV deal than the White Sox. The Cubs were on WGN, and the White Sox were on WSNS, channel 44. Some day I’ll share with you a tawdrier story about channel 44. You weren’t aware that there could be a tawdry story about a television station but there is; however that’s for some other time.
So in my early days of baseball fandom, I was a Cub fan by default, because they were the only team I really was exposed to. Then I found the UHF band on the TV. And there was this team that usually played at night, in a somewhat foreboding-looking stadium in a bad neighborhood. My darker side was aroused. But let’s not get tawdry about this. I guess I felt like I’d found an underdog team to pull for, and I liked it.
This was back when Harry Carey sang “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” from the broadcast booth. Oh, you thought that was an invention of the Cubs? Negatory. The Sox did it before them. I remember like it was yesterday, when I was a young pup and we were driving away from a game one night, we saw Harry heading into a bar after a game, and we yelled out the car window to him. He smiled and waved back.
The Sox also had a scoreboard that shot off fireworks when the Sox hit a home run. To this day, I get goose bumps when that happens. It’s a visceral response that I can’t shut off. ComiskeyPark was a great old stadium, and that place used to rock when those fireworks would go off. It felt like the whole place would crumble. It was great.
The food choices at Comiskey were, compared to the standard dog/popcorn/pretzel fare you’d get at Wrigley, downright exotic. You could get tacos, and Polish sausages, and Italian beef sandwiches. I’m sure you can get that stuff at Wrigley now, too, but back then it was a stark difference.
My dad would take me to a few games a year, and despite being a Cub fan at heart would cheer for the Sox along with me. He taught me a lot about being a classy fan. Thanks to my dad’s influence, I can’t really cheer against the Cubs, except in a fun way. He and I would needle each other a bit about how the teams were doing. So when it comes down to it, go Cubs! I just hope the Sox do better. It would be great if both teams played well enough to make it to the World Series, which the Sox would then win. Although the city of Chicago might burn to the ground were both teams to make it, so maybe we oughtn’t root for that after all.
We’re very fortunate in Cedar Rapids to have a quality team like the Kernels to watch. I look forward to a bunch of warm summer evenings with a cold beer watching the chess match that is baseball play out in front of me.