Can't beat fun at the old ball park... especially if you love heckling.

in sports •  5 months ago

Growing up a White Sox fan in Chicago is not easy. With an apology to step-children everywhere (I happen to be one)... Sox fans are the mistreated, unwanted, ignored step-children of Chicago. Actually it is more accurate to say we are mistreated, unwanted, and ignored by the entire sporting world. If you don't believe me, check out this graphic from ESPN (The self proclaimed "World Wide Leader in Sports").




By the way, the inspiration for this graphic was the Cubs/Indians World Series. So this graphic about the World Series omitted the White Sox World Series win from only 10 years earlier.

However, in addition to being able to proudly say I was a counter-culture rebel, there was one huge advantage of being a Chicago White Sox fan. Thanks to @donkeypong mentioning Rickey Henderson in his recent post about baseball jerseys, I was reminded of this forgotten perk.

As soon as I got my driver’s license, I began attending at least 10 to 15 White Sox games each season. Being a poor high school or college student meant that I had to purchase the cheapest tickets available. Luckily there were always plenty of tickets available. In fact, the stadium was usually 2/3 empty. (It is hard to ignore a team if you go their stadium).

Being a huge fan who hated the idea of his beloved team's stadium looking empty on TV, I made the supreme sacrifice of moving from the cheap seats to one of the many vacant seats near home plate. I referred to this action as "seat picking"... but that is a post for another day. On the weekend, I may have needed to sit in the first row of the outfield. No matter what, I always made sure I was close enough to interact with the players.

"Interact" had two meanings. "Interacting" with a member of the White Sox entailed my telling them how much better than their Cub counterparts they were. "Interacting" with the opposing players was much different. Before a game began, I would choose one opposing player to annoy. My goal was to annoy them so much that they would acknowledge me in some way. My buddies and I had a few rules. We would never swear, say anything that a little kid should not hear, mention the player's family or yell in a fellow fan's ear. We especially loved using very dated terms that people in the 1940s would toss around at ball games. As a result, many visitors got to hear me shout, "You're a bum!" a couple of dozen times each game. If any of our fellow Sox fans seemed to be annoyed, we would tone it down. On most occasions though, the people around us appeared to enjoy the show.




I was usually more like the laughing guy behind those two really angry people.

One of my favorites was Tori Hunter of the Minnesota Twins. I honestly can't remember exactly what we were yelling at him one particular night, but I am sure we were talking about his "rag arm" quite a bit. That was of course until, with a man on second and two outs, a liner fell in front of Hunter. He snatched it up, fired home and beat our runner by at least four feet. He immediately turned to my friends and I and began miming that his arm was a noodle. We tipped our caps.

My second favorite was Jose Canseco. At a game in 1991 or 1992, Canseco was playing right field for the Oakland A's. My friends and I who were sitting in the first row of right field, were all over him all game long. We had plenty of material to choose from. Not only had Canseco already begun raising suspicions that he was using steroids, he had been involved with Madonna. For good measure, we made sure to mix in a steady dose of reminding Canseco how much better Frank Thomas was than him. After several innings of cheating and Madonna related badgering, Canseco stepped to the plate. He crushed a steroid-aided go ahead home run. When he returned to his position, he turned to my friends and I, clenched his fists above his head and began shaking them like he had just been proclaimed "champion of the world".




Not Jose Canseco... but he did shake his fists like this for just as long.

A bit deflated, we quieted down as the home half of the inning began. One hit fell. Then another. Next, Frank Thomas stepped to the plate. He walloped a three-run homer that may still be sailing over the Chicago Skies. We exploded and began imitating Cansecos gesture. He scowled at us. We did not tip our caps to him.

Although those were fun, my absolute proudest moment as a heckler occurred during the twilight of the great Rickey Henderson's career. On this occasion I was able to sit in the first row near the visitor's on deck circle. When the future Hall-of-Famer stepped into the circle to take his swings, I began reminding him how old he was. I'm pretty sure the words "over-the-hill", "washed up", and "bum" were used quite a few times. Henderson glanced back at me as he walked to the plate.





I had won!

I had gotten into the head of a first ballot Hall-of-Famer! He would not be able to concentrate and would strike out for sure. You are welcome White Sox. I am at your service and will accept my award for best fan ever.

Not so fast.

Henderson masterfully worked the count and earned a walk. He promptly stole second base. Then he stole third. Finally he scored on a sacrifice fly. As he walked back to the dugout, he pointed at me and laughed. I immediately sprang to my feet and gave him a one-man standing ovation. Not only had this baseball great shown the crowd a glimpse of what he once was, he showed me he had a sense of humor.




I'd like to think he still laughs at me every once in a while.

I'm pretty sure if I did any of this today, I'd be arrested.

I miss the good old days.

Images 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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When I was a kid some friends and I would sit behind the opposing team's bench at junior hockey games. We'd bang on the glass behind the coach to the beat of what ever song was playing and yell over him when he'd decide to bark orders at the team so nobody could hear him. Security would eventually come and wag their fingers at us so we'd move to the other side of the rink where the opposing team could see us and from there we'd wave and do stupid things to distract them further. Not sure if any of that worked but we were having fun, so whatever.

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Junior hockey games huh? Now that is dedication! I bet you could have left some nice artwork on the glass for the opponents. Not sure what medium you would have worked in though. Probably something that you could make yourself.

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We didn't have a pro team in the town I grew up in. The entire province doesn't even have a pro team, so junior hockey is where it's at. As for the uh, artwork, well, if you spit on the glass you can't see the game. There was an incident where a woman rubbed dirty diaper ingredients all over the place and that may have traumatized me but other than that, people like to keep the place clean.

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I grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia and we would do the same things at all the Voyagers and Oilers games when we had an AHL team. Then came the QMJHL and the Mooseheads. We went to almost every game because it was cheap to get in and we always sat right behind the opponent's bench.vSo much fun to get in their heads.

Those are awesome stories! Heckling is a lost art. I sure remember watching all of those guys. Canseco was a douche, even for those of us who rooted for his team. Henderson was probably the best player I've ever watched. And he knew it. Reportedly, before every game, he would stand naked in front of a full-length locker room mirror for several minutes and say, "Rickey, you're the best."

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I truly enjoyed it. Canseco is a complete scumbag and incredibly weird. Back in 2013 he was pulled over by the police with a goat wearing a diaper in his car. Not kidding.

https://uproxx.com/sports/jose-canseco-pulled-goat-wearing-diaper-car/

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Yes, I remember that. And if it isn't goats or Madonna or selling out his teammates, it's oil wrestling or whatever anyone will pay him to do.

3rd pic is so funny. His smile is so cute. Thanks.

Now where's the third photo from?? Hahahahaha very funny, saving that.

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Giphy is a treasure chest of these weird things lol.

Nice piece. I am in Minnesota. Hunter came along in centerfield after Puckett. I was lucky enough to see both of them perform for much of their careers. Also, there is nothing more fun than that clip of Canseco losing a homerun off his head.

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It is my favorite highlight of all time. I almost included it in the post.

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That's the one.

I love this story, not only because I was also one of those fans that wanted to get into the opposition's head but because of the unique moment you had. We never had baseball where I grew up but we had minor league hockey. I remember the night when the Halifax Citadels were playing the Sherbrooke Canadiens and John Kordic (an NHL fighter at the time, since deceased) was playing in the minors during the twilight of his career. We heckled him all night and told him his career was over and that he was washed up as a fighter. Early in the third period he got into a fight with our best fighter and absolutely wiped the floor with him. It was one-sided, to say the least. He looked at us, laughed and flexed his muscles as he came back to the bench after serving his penalty. I had very little to say for the remainder of the game. lol

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That is fantastic! I love when they have the sense of humor to give a little back.

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That is fantastic! I love when they have the sense of humor to give a little back.

Man all of the stories you shared were great. I especially enjoyed the Jose Conseco one because I know his ego was bruised lol.

I'm a HUGE sports fan also and always dreamed of interacting with professional athletes. I think my fondest memory was actually the quickest interaction as well.

While stationed at Luke AFB in Arizona I volunteered to help my buddy who was in the honor guard as they presented the colors before a Phoenix Suns game. A friend and I were standing in the tunnel folding the American flag after the ceremony when I saw his jaw drop.

I initially thought it must be a hot girl so I turned around and standing right next to me was Muhammad Ali. A resident of Phoenix, AZ he would occasionally attend the games and sit court side.

With his wife by his side I stood there less than two feet away speechless starring at him without blinking. He slowly turned to me gave a little smile and wink before proceeding to walk to his seat when they announced his name over the loud speaker. I still get chills to this day when I think about that moment.

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That is incredible! I actually got chills reading this. He is one of the most influential sports figures of all time. He is a legend who will never be forgotten. Some day you will tell your grandchildren Muhammad Ali winked at you and it will have significance.

Haha for some reason I was scanning every fan in that picture trying to see if you would be there... That could be a fun game someday "Find the Brian" :)

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Actually... my family and I were playing that a couple of days ago but it was in a video of a parade from 1985.

Hi, interesting images, thanks for share!
Regards from Venezuela ; )

Great story. Anyone even mildly interested in baseball should read this.