My intention is not to convert or even try to bring together Sox and Cub fans. It seems loyalty to one or the other is deep and ingrained. Having grown up in Chicago I didn't quite realize how really lucky we were to have two Major League Baseball teams. I guess you might say I'm a baseball fanatic. I quite possibly could have had at least 5 PhDs if I put as much time into academics as I did baseball over the years. I wanted desperately to be a big-league ballplayer, but the hard slider "UP AND IN" drove me to seek other future employment. Back in the day before the internet and easy access to baseball statistics, I was the go-to guy to settle disputes over who hit what and who finished where in the standings, or who followed who in a lineup. Just to name a few. My phone number was behind several bars across the city. It was not unusual to be awoken in the wee hours of the morning to settle a bet or calm an argument.
My love affair with the game started when I was very young. My dad was an avid fan and naturally, I was hooked. I can remember being delighted going to the old Comiskey Park to watch the White Sox which was close to our neighborhood. I remember little Louie, and Nellie, Billy Pierce, Luke Appling, Jungle Jim Rivera, and so many other great Sox players. Then the following week we boarded a streetcar and made the trip down Clark Street to Wrigley Field. There I watched Andy Pafko, Dee Fondy, Bob Rush, Bill Nicholson, Ryno, Ernie, Gracie and all the rest of the Cub players. See, the thing is, not only did I get to see the Sox and Cub players but at Comiskey, I was able to see the great Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Larry Doby and a host of other great American League legends. It certainly didn't hurt my passion attending De La Salle High School which was 2 blocks from Comiskey Park. Yea! lots of classes cut to make the 2:05 games. Before the Marine Corps interrupted, I had a string of 9 straight opening day games. "Go Go White Sox." Old Sherm Lollar certainly didn't fit in with that crowd but Jim Landis, it was said once outran a Racehorse.
Then it was on to Wrigley Field when the Cubs were in town. Nothing but day baseball back then at Wrigley, so the trip down Clark was about an hour from our Southside home. There I got to see the great National League stars such as Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Warren Spahn, Stan Musial, and a host of National League stars. What I'm getting at is how really lucky Chicago is and was to have two Major league teams. We got to see them all because of that. Remember in those days there was no interleague play so most baseball fans around the country only got to see the big stars play during a World Series. Chicago baseball fans were mighty lucky indeed.
Sometimes getting on in age, older folks find it hard to adjust to new ideas and sometimes new ideas that alter what they have loved in the past. There is a lot of talk lately about changes to the game of baseball. Changes that have been implemented at the minor league level such as a batter can steal first base, extra-inning games will begin with a runner at second and restrictions to the shifts that have become widely used to keep certain hitters at a disadvantage. Yikes-Yikes.
A few years ago the Tribune Editorial Board published my concerns about these changes. It was called "BELOVED BASEBALL"-------"We baseball nuts are slowly starting to get our groove back." Those soothing words of February ----PITCHERS and CATCHERS alert us to the end of our long bleak absence from our beloved baseball.
For lovers of the game, hope springs eternal with those words announcing the start of spring training.
However, this year we baseball purists have been hit by a worrisome new twist of slight tampering with the rules of our beloved game by the Lords of Baseball (Bottom Line Owners) They say in order to speed up the pace of the game there will be an attempt to condense the action. It is my sincere hope that in doing so, it does not take away from baseball's unique subtleties. IT IS STILL THE ONLY GAME IN AMERICA WHERE THE TEAM WITHOUT THE BALL SCORES. What has always amused me among my friends who are hockey, football and basketball nuts is the way they blow off baseball as being too slow and boring. After those long and tedious games are over, we are left with every single second of the action that is still being compared and analyzed on a maniacal pace.
On that last touchdown, who blocked that blitzing linebacker on the winning touchdown pass? Who screened the goalie who allowed the winning goal? Who was posted up by a player to allow him to shoot the winning basket? Baseball is knowing how many pitches the great Greg Maddux threw in the year 2004 and how many minutes it took him to throw a shutout on one particular summer afternoon in Wrigley. GUESS WHAT? WE know those things. I humbly ask the rules committee to PLEASE BE CAREFUL WITH OUR GAME." CIRCA 2017 BY BOB ANGONE. Below is a photo of a suit changing the appearance of a tree. He could have very well been the C/O at Coke that thought New Coke was the way to go. Be careful what you change because it might be unrecognizable.
So to all my fellow baseball fans especially Cubs/Sox fans, and even nonfans, maybe a little less hate or dislike for each other and give thanks we have 2 teams here in Chicago. How really, really lucky we are. 2005 and 2016 may they have a thousand reruns.
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