Posted by Steve

I was almost a White Sox fan.

In brief, my mom is from Chicago but moved to Milwaukee after she married my dad. I grew up less than 20 minutes from County Stadium, yet my childhood memories of Major League Baseball are mostly of the White Sox. I used to watch day games with my mom all the time when I was a kid. Sure, I remember Brewers like Greg Vaughn, John Jaha, Bill Speiers, Franklin Stubbs, Cal Eldred, Ricky Bones, Kevin Seitzer, etc, etc, but I have fonder and more vivid memories of the 90s White Sox. Frank Thomas (The Big Hurt), Craig Grebek (The Little Hurt), “Officer” Ron Karkovice, Lance “One Dog” Johnson, Joey Cora, “Black” Jack McDowell, Roberto Hernandez, Wilson Alvarez, and of course, the great Tim “Rock” Raines (look at his numbers and explain how the hell he isn’t in the Hall of Fame. Hint: you can’t).

I still think of Ozzie Guillen and Robin Ventura as players before I think of them as managers. Guillen played the way he coached–swung at everything, and never shut up. It somehow seems fitting now.

In Little League, when I played for the White Sox, I played first base and took number 35 after The Big Hurt.

I remember Robin Ventura’s many grand slams. He was my mom’s favorite (a few years ago, when I went to the College World Series, he was covering the games for ESPN. I saw him in person, and when I told her she absolutely flipped). I am annoyed at how bogus the way his brawl with Nolan Ryan is remembered, because Ryan only threw at Ventura because Ventura hit a grand slam off him earlier in the game–as weak as it gets.

Of course, all those nicknames were presumably given by the long-time announcer, Kent “Hawk” Harrelson. “Hawk and Wimpy” called the games when I was growing up. At the time, I didn’t know better. When I was a kid, I thought they were fun and cool.

Now, of course, I’m pretty relieved I didn’t become a White Sox fan. I think I would have gone insane with Ozzie Guillen as my favorite team’s manager. And of course, Hawk Harrelson is still going, and he is insufferable. What’s really telling is I don’t remember my mom disliking him when I was a kid, but she complains about him all the time now. I still see a decent amount of games, and I can actually make a list of his most obnoxious and/or hilarious “Hawkisms.” Obviously, everyone knows “You can put in on the board, YYYES!” but there are so many more than non-White Sox fans may not know that are just so much funnier. Here are some of them.

-What a snab! (he somehow combines “nab” and “snag”)
-I’ve never seen anything so bad in all my 50-whatever years in baseball (I think it’s 53 now. He says it all the time, though).
-I tell you what, I am telling you what, I am going to tell you what, I am fixing to tell you what, or any variation thereof
-Can o’ corn (for a lazy fly ball/pop-up)
-Right size, wrong shape (he’s said this one for years; it’s when a home run ball goes foul)
-MERCY! (After a good play, almost always by the White Sox)
-C’mon, STRETCH! STRETCH! (When a ball is hit deep, he attempts to coax it out of the park)
-Grab some bench! (after an opposing player strikes out)
-GAS! (when an opposing player swings and misses at a fastball)
-Stay fair! IT WILL! I actually prefer the antithesis of this one, when an opposing team hits a ball down the line. Then it’s Get foul! … It won’t (in a very dejected voice).
-When the White Sox are winning, it’s “4-2 good guys!” When they’re losing, it’s “4-2 bad guys.” Honestly–bad guys.
-And this ball game is… OVAH! (Obviously only when the White Sox win)

There are so many more that I’m omitting/missing, but those are probably the best. A couple other things that are funny: For someone who is on record as hating the Moneyball philosophy, he sure hates when the White Sox pitchers allow walks–especially lead-off walks. You’d think lead-off walks scored 90% of the time if you only listened to Hawk.

He is the biggest homer I’ve ever heard. If a close play goes against the Sox, he’ll say, “And he calls him out.” But if it goes for the Sox, he says, “He’s safe!” never “He calls him safe.”

Finally and hilariously, he will say virtually nothing when the opposing team does something well.

Anyway. I don’t really know where I’m going with this post, just that I have plenty to say about the White Sox. I still follow them relatively closely just because my mom is such a huge fan.

We’re going to the game today, and it will be the first time I’ve been there since I was about 5 years old. I’ll root for the Brewers, of course, but I may not do it as loudly as normal, because it will feel a little strange rooting against the White Sox in their home park.

That, and because I don’t want to get accosted by someone with a mullet.


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