This is Part II, the White Sox portion.
Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler,
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:
They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;
Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
Bareheaded, shoveling, wrecking, planning, building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse.
And under his ribs the heart of the people, laughing!
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.
-- Carl Sandburg, 1916.
Sandburg knew. He was right then. He is still right now. And this legendary poem "Chicago" fits the White Sox much more than it does the Cubs.
“If I was a colonel in some horrible war,” said Jean Shepherd, the legendary writer and radio show host, native of Hammond, Indiana, and hard-core White Sox fan, “and I needed volunteers for a suicide mission to take an enemy pillbox, I’d call out, ‘Any of you White Sox fans? Follow me!’ And those White Sox fans would follow me, and we’d take that pillbox! Because White Sox fans are special. Fifty years without a Pennant? A hundred years? Doesn't matter. We're loyal.”
Shepherd said that in the 1987 documentary Chicago White Sox: A Visual History. It was an elaboration of something he'd said before: ”If I was going to storm a pillbox, going to sheer, utter, certain death, and the colonel said, ‘Shepherd, pick six guys,’ I’d pick White Sox fans, because they have known death every day of their lives, and it holds no terror for them.”
White Sox fans hate the Cubs, and especially Cub fans, a lot more than Cub fans hate the White Sox and their fans. To a Cub fan, a White Sox fan is a greasy, dirty, uncouth hood who likes heavy metal and marijuana -- an image probably ingrained due to the South Side's gritty reputation and Disco Demolition Night in 1979. To a White Sox fan, a Cub fan is a prissy, effete intellectual who is willing to accept losing so long as he has his ivy and his beer -- and, occasionally, his marijuana. In other words, newspaper columnist and conservative TV news pundit George Will, who actually is a Cub fan... except for the substance abuse part.
Jean Shepherd has been dead for a few years, but I'll bet he didn't like George Will. Will is still alive, and I'll bet he was never a Jean Shepherd fan, either. Too much imagination.
Disclaimer: While I have been to Chicago, and I have seen games at Wrigley Field, and I saw a game at the old Comiskey Park, I have not yet been to a game at the new Comiskey Park, now named U.S. Cellular Field. But much of this information is taken from the White Sox' website, and is believed to be accurate.
Before You Go. These series will be played in the 2nd half of May. So ignore all the stories you’ve heard about Chicago being cold: You’re going to Wrigley to see the Yankees play the Cubs, not to Soldier Field to see the Giants or Jets play the Bears. More likely than not, it's going to be warm, with no cold blast of air coming in off Lake Michigan producing "Bear Weather."
The Chicago Tribune is predicting temperatures to be in the high 70s or low 80s during daylight, and the high 50s or low 60s at night. They're also predicting thunderstorms for Tuesday and Thursday, which could present problems. The Chicago Sun-Times backs up its rivals' temperature predictions, but is more optimistic about the chance of rain.
Wait until you cross into Illinois to change your clocks. Indiana is one of 2 States, Arizona being the other, where Daylight Savings Time is an issue; however, the State now uses it throughout. Once you approach the Chicago suburbs and edge cities such as Gary, you'll be moving from Eastern to Central Daylight Time.
Tickets. In spite of the White Sox normally being the better team on the field, the Cubs have had the better attendance. This season, the Cubs are averaging 32,104 for home games, the White Sox just 21,919, even though the Sox are doing a little better than the Cubs at the moment. (The Sox are 9 games under .500, the Cubs 12 games under.)
In fact, the Cubs have had a higher attendance than the White Sox every season from 1994 onward, even though the Sox were then in a very good period and have actually won a Pennant and a World Series since: Even in their title season of 2005, the Sox trailed the Cubs in per-game attendance, 24,437 to 39,138. The Sox’ record is 36,511 in 2007, and the Cubs had 39,040 the same year.
I think the Cub/Sox divide -- that is, the Sox fans hate the Cubs and their fans more than the Cub fans hate the Sox and their fans -- is partly due to the Cub-Cardinal rivalry. Cub fans have someone they hate more than they hate the White Sox. The move of the Milwaukee Brewers, considerably closer to Chicago than St. Louis is, to the National League has killed the Sox-Brewers rivalry, which was never all that strong, but neither has it made Cub fans hate the Brewers all that much. In contrast, Brewers fans have grown to hate Cub fans, mainly because they were probably already sick of hearing about Cub fans, Wrigley Field and Harry Caray on "Superstation" WGN. (This may also be spillover from Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers, although it's been a while since Chicago Bulls vs. Milwaukee Bucks, or even DePaul vs. Marquette, has meant much.)
Hopefully, the White Sox' 2005-present resurgence, under (now former) manager Ozzie Guillen and general manager Kenny Williams will help them build rivalries with AL Central opponents Detroit, Cleveland and Minnesota, and they can have better attendance as a result of both the winning and the rivalries.
But, for now, getting tickets for a White Sox game shouldn't be difficult: Essentially, you can probably get any seat you can afford. Gold Boxes will cost $94, Lower Boxes $65, Outfield Reserved $42, Upper Boxes $29, Upper Reserved $25, and Bleachers $40. For whatever reason (the Sox' website doesn't explain it), all of these prices will drop dramatically for the Sunday afternoon game.
Getting There. Chicago is 789 land miles from New York. Knowing this, your first reaction is going to be to fly out there.
Unlike some other Midwestern cities, this is a good idea if you can afford it. If you buy tickets online, you can get them for about $830 round-trip. O'Hare International Airport (named for Lt. Cmdr. Edward "Butch" O'Hare, the U.S. Navy's 1st flying ace who was nevertheless shot down over the Pacific in World War II), at the northwestern edge of the city, is United Airlines' headquarters, so nearly every flight they have from the New York area’s airports to there is nonstop, so it’ll be 3 hours, tarmac to tarmac, and about 2 hours going back.
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Blue Line train will take you from O’Hare to the downtown elevated (or “L”) tracks that run in “The Loop” (the borders of which are Randolph, Wells, Van Buren and Wabash Streets) in 45 minutes. From Midway Airport, the Orange Line train can get you to the Loop. Both should take about 45 minutes.
Bus? Greyhound’s run between the 2 cities, launched 5 times per day, is relatively easy, but long, averaging about 18 hours, and is $246 round-trip -- but can drop to as low as $156 on Advanced Purchase. Only 1 of the 5 runs goes straight there without requiring you to change buses: The one leaving Port Authority Bus Terminal at 10:15 PM (Eastern) and arriving at Chicago at 2:30 PM (Central). This includes half-hour rest stops at Milesburg, Pennsylvania and Elkhart, Indiana, and an hour-and-a-half stopover in Cleveland.
The station is at 630 W. Harrison Street at Des Plaines Street. (If you’ve seen one of my favorite movies, Midnight Run, this is a new station, not the one seen in that 1988 film.) The closest CTA stop is Clinton on the Blue Line, around the corner, underneath the elevated Dwight D. Eisenhower Expressway.
Train? Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited (formerly known as the Twentieth Century Limited when the old New York Central Railroad ran it from Grand Central Terminal to Chicago's LaSalle Street Station) leaves New York's Penn Station at 3:40 every afternoon, and arrives at Union Station at 225 South Canal Street at Adams Street in Chicago at 9:45 every morning. It’s $286 round-trip. The closest CTA stop is Quincy/Wells, in the Loop, but that’s 6 blocks away – counting the Chicago River as a block; Union Station is, literally, out of the Loop.
If you do decide to walk from Union Station to the Loop, don’t look up at the big black thing you pass. That’s the Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower, which, until the new World Trade Center was topped off, was the tallest building in North America, which it had officially been since it opened in 1974. If there’s one thing being in New York should have taught you, it’s this: “Don’t look up at the tall buildings, or you’ll look like a tourist.”
But since you’ve come all this way, it makes sense to get a hotel, so take a cab from Union Station or Greyhound to the hotel – unless you’re flying in, in which case you can take the CTA train to within a block of a good hotel. There are also hotels near the airports.
If you decide to drive, it’s far enough that it will help to get someone to go with you and split the duties, and to trade off driving and sleeping. The directions are rather simple, down to (quite literally) the last mile. You'll need to get into New Jersey, and take Interstate 80 West. You'll be on I-80 for the vast majority of the trip, through New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio. In Ohio, in the western suburbs of Cleveland, I-80 will merge with Interstate 90. From this point onward, you won’t need to think about I-80 until you head home; I-90 is now the key.
Note that the dividing line between Eastern and Central Time on I-80/90, the Indiana Toll Road, is between Exits 39 (in LaPorte County) and 31 (in Lake County).
If you were not going for the entire 6-game Yankee set in Chicago, but only for the White Sox games, and were going directly to U.S. Cellular Field (not a good idea, as you should go to your hotel first), you’d take Exit 55A for 35th Street, merge onto LaSalle Street, and turn left on 35th Street. The ballpark is bounded by 35th Street (3rd base), Shields Avenue/Bill Veeck Drive and the Amtrak/Metra tracks (1st base), 37th Street (right field) and Wentworth Avenue (left field).
If you do it right, you should spend about an hour and a half in New Jersey, 5 hours and 15 minutes in Pennsylvania, 4 hours in Ohio, 2 hours and 30 minutes in Indiana, and half an hour in Illinois before you reach the exit for your hotel. That’s 13 hours and 45 minutes. Counting rest stops, preferably halfway through Pennsylvania and just after you enter both Ohio and Indiana, and accounting for traffic in both New York and Chicago, it should be no more than 18 hours, which would save you time on both Greyhound and Amtrak, if not on flying.
Once In the City. A derivation of a Native American name, "Chikagu" was translated as "Place of the onion," as there were onion fields there before there was a white settlement. Some have suggested the translation is a little off, that it should be "Place of the skunk." Others have said, either way, it means "Place of the big stink."
Founded in 1831, so by Northeastern standards it's a young city, Chicago's long-ago nickname of "the Second City" is no longer true, as its population has dropped, and Los Angeles' has risen, to the point where L.A. has passed it, and Chicago is now the 3rd-largest city in America. But at 2.7 million within the city limits, and 9.5 million in the metropolitan area, it's still a huge city. And its legendary crime problem is still there, so whatever precautions you take when you're in New York, take them in Chicago as well.
The "Loop" is the connected part of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)'s elevated railway (sometimes written as "El" or "L") downtown: Over Wells Street on the west, Van Buren Street on the south, Wabash Street on the east and State Street on the north. Inside the Loop, the east-west streets are Lake, Randolph, Washington, Madison, Monroe, Adams, Jackson and Van Buren; the north-south streets are Wells, LaSalle (Chicago's "Wall Street"), Clark, Dearborn, State and Wabash.
The city's street-address centerpoint is in the Loop, at State & Madison Streets. Madison separates North from South, while State separates East from West. The street grid is laid out so that every 800 on the house numbers is roughly 1 mile. As Wrigley is at 1060 West Addison Street, and on the 3600 block of North Sheffield Avenue, now you know it's a little more than a mile west of State, and 4 1/2 miles north of Madison.
The CTA's rapid-rail system is both underground (subway) and above-ground (elevated), although the El is better-known, standing as a Chicago icon alongside the Sears Tower, Wrigley Field, Michael Jordan, deep-dish pizza, and less savory things like municipal corruption, Mrs. O'Leary's cow and Al Capone. The single-ride fare is $2.25, a 1-day pass is $10, a 3-day pass (if you're going for an entire series) is $20, and a 7-day pass (if you're going for all 6 games) is $28.
(By the way, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 was more likely the result of Mr. O'Leary hosting a poker game in his barn, in which he, or one of his friends, dropped cigar ash, rather than Mrs. O'Leary's cow, knocking a lantern, onto some hay.)
Illinois' State sales tax is 6.25 percent, but in the City of Chicago it's 9.25 percent -- higher than New York's. So don't be shocked when you see prices: Like New York, Boston and Washington, Chicago is an expensive city.
Going In. To get to "The Cell" (or "The Phone Booth") from downtown, take the Red Line train to "Sox-35th." It’s about a 12-minute ride, making it twice as fast as from Midtown Manhattan to Yankee Stadium, 3 times as fast as from Midtown Manhattan to Citi Field.
The area around the park, part of the Bridgeport neighborhood of the South Side, isn't as bad as it was in the 1960s, '70s, '80s and early '90s. It was in 1973 that Jim Croce, in "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," called the South Side "the baddest part of town." But things have improved significantly. Nevertheless, take the L, and leave the car at the hotel -- not just because of the safety issue, but because it's just more convenient to train it. If you do insist upon driving, parking costs $25.
The official address is 333 W. 35th Street. (Comiskey's was 324 W. 35th.) You’ll be most likely to enter by the home plate gate at 35th & Shields. Unlike Wrigley Field, the park is not surrounded by bars, famous or otherwise. Unfortunately, McCuddy's Tavern, the legendary saloon that was on the site, across from Comiskey Park, did not, as was promised to its owners, get rebuilt across the street. Instead, the site of old Comiskey is just a parking lot for the new one.
Prior to a refit in time for the 2003 All-Star Game, new Comiskey looked a lot like the 1976-2008 edition of Yankee Stadium, with two decks of blue seats wrapping from the left field pole around home plate to the right field pole, with a white wall bracketing the outfield bleachers. But complaints about the place being a "Mallpark" -- especially after Camden Yards in Baltimore opened just one year later, making the White Sox' new home almost instantly obsolete -- led to some changes, including new green seats, more bleacher seats, removing the top couple of rows in the upper deck and replacing them with a slightly overhanging roof, and better concession stands. It does look better -- if a bit less like the park where I (and many of you) grew up.
The ballpark faces southeast, away from downtown and the city’s skyscrapers; its predecessor had faced northeast, and the Sears Tower could be seen over the left field upper deck. The outfield distances are 330 feet to left, 335 to right, 375 to the power alleys and 400 to center -- much more of a hitters' park than old Comiskey was, but still not heavily favoring hitters. And the field is immaculate, as it usually was at old Comiskey, although that one was occasionally "tailored" for the home team. Capacity is officially 40,615.
Joe Borchard, with the White Sox in 2004, hit the longest home run, 504 feet. The longest at the old Comiskey Park? It's hard to say. A few balls were hit over its roof. Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle and Dick Allen cleared it in left field, and Ted Williams did it to right. These would have to be 525-foot shots, at least; Mickey's drive, in 1955, has been suggested at 550.
Like its predecessor, U.S. Cellular Field has an "exploding scoreboard" that lights up, and shoots off fireworks, for a White Sox home run or a White Sox win. It's not a replica of either of the first two boards -- the original exploding scoreboard, at the old Comiskey, lasted from 1960 to 1982 and was replaced in time for the 1983 All-Star Game -- but it upholds the tradition. Legend has it that, upset by the "unprofessionalism" of the original 1960 board, Casey Stengel brought sparklers into the Yankee dugout, and when a Yankee homered, he had the sparklers lit, and the Yankees jumped up and down in the dugout in mock celebration.
Food. As one of America’s greatest food cities, in Big Ten Country where tailgate parties are practically a sacrament, you would expect the Chicago ballparks to have lots of good options. The Cubs are rather disappointing in this regard.
The White Sox? In fact, there may be no team with better food options than the Pale Hose. Hot dogs. Sausages. Sandwiches. Pizza. Ethnic varieties. Ice cream. And so much beer, you'll think you missed your exit and ended up in Milwaukee. Bill Veeck used to call the old Comiskey "the world's largest saloon," and the new park reflects this, even if it's not as dark and foreboding in the corridors. (The old one could have used better lighting, but, aside from that and being in poor condition when I visited, I loved it.)
There's no equivalent to Boog's Barbecue at Camden Yards, where a team legend actually tends to the stand. But all over the park are stands, with hot dogs, bratwurst, Polish sausage and pizza, named for White Sox legends: Eddie Collins, Chico Carrasquel, Early Wynn, Nellie Fox, Jim Landis, Sherm Lollar, Al Lopez, Bill Melton, Dick Allen, Tony LaRussa, Ed Farmer, Ron Kittle, and, yes, Chicago native Greg Luzinski -- but if you want to see "the Bull" dishing out barbecue, you'll have to go to Philadelphia, where he made his baseball name.
The ChiSox also have funnel cake stands at Sections 108, 155 & 533, and, in honor of their 1983 Division Champions, "Winning Ugly is Sweet Ice Cream" at Section 145.
Team History Displays. As I said, I have not been inside the new Sox park. But the Sox do have notations honoring their Pennants (1901, 1906, 1917, 1919, 1959 and 2005) on the outfield light towers. The Sox also won Division titles in 1983 and 1993 in the old American League Western Division, and since moving to the AL Central in 1994 they've won them in 2000, 2005 and 2008 (and were in first place in 1994 when the strike began, thus ending the season with them leading, though MLB doesn't recognize this as a division title). All their postseason berths have been by finishing first, no Wild Cards. (They also had close calls for the Pennant in 1908, 1920, 1964 and 1967, and for the AL West in 1972 and 1977.)
They have statues honoring some of their all-time greats: Founding owner Charlie Comiskey and the 1950s double-play combination of Luis Aparicio and Nellie Fox, behind Section 100 on the right side of center field; 1950s legends, left fielder Orestes "Minnie" Minoso and pitcher Billy Pierce, and 1980s catcher (also Red Sox legend) Carlton Fisk, behind Section 164 on the left side of center field; 1980s outfielder Harold Baines, behind Section 105 in right field; and 1990s first baseman Frank "Big Hurt" Thomas, behind Section 160 in left field.
There are 2 blue seats in the outfield: One in Section 159 in left, where Paul Konerko's grand slam landed in Game 2 of the 2005 World Series; and one in Section 101 in right, where Scott Podsednik's walkoff homer landed in the same game. Twice in 2008, Jim Thome hit homers onto the center field Fan Deck, the only times it's been done, and a plaque marks the location of the first; the second provided the only run in a Playoff for the American League Central Division title.
Outside Gate 4 is Champions Plaza, a display honoring the team's 2005 World Championship (the only one won by either Chicago team since World War I), featuring images (strictly speaking, not "statues") of 1st baseman Paul Konerko, the team's soon-to-retire legend, with 435 career home runs as I type this (all but 7 with the Sox); 3rd baseman Joe Crede, who homered in Games 1 and 3; 2nd baseman Geoff Blum, whose 14th-inning homer won Game 3, tied for the longest game in World Series history; shortstop Juan Uribe, who fielded an Orlando Palmeiro grounder for the clinching out; and our old friend Orlando Hernandez (though I'm not sure why they chose El Duque, as his role in the 2005 postseason was not especially notable). Why left fielder Podsednik, whose Game 2 homer is the only World Series walkoff ever hit by a Chicago player, is not included, I don't know.
The team's retired numbers are depicted on the left field fence: Number 2, Fox; 3, Baines; 4, 1930s-40s shortstop Luke Appling; 9, Minoso; 11, Aparicio; 16, 1920s-30s pitcher Ted Lyons; 19, Pierce; 35, Thomas; and 72, Fisk.
In addition, no uniformed personnel have worn 6 since the death of hitting instructor Charley Lau in 1984, except for one of his proteges, later hitting instructor Walt Hriniak. And no one has worn 56 since Mark Buehrle left via free agency. However, neither of these numbers has been officially retired.
There is a Chicago White Sox Hall of Fame located somewhere in the park, and "Shoeless Joe" Jackson, the most famous of the "Eight Men Out" who supposedly threw the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds, though banned from the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, is honored by the White Sox Hall of Fame. So is Bill Veeck, who owned the White Sox twice: 1959-61, selling them because he was sick, and misdiagnosed and thought he was dying; and again 1975-81, selling them because he couldn't keep up with the rising costs, saying, "It's not the high price of talent that bothers me, it's the high price of mediocrity."
I can't find a full list of members, but, aside from those already mentioned, the following players are in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, and were also White Sox for at least a significant portion of their careers: 1900s shortstop George Davis, 1900s pitcher Ed Walsh, 1910s-20s 2nd baseman Eddie Collins (better known for his time with the Philadelphia Athletics), 1910s-20s catcher Ray Schalk, 1920s outfielder Harry Hooper (better known for his time with the Boston Red Sox), 1920s pitcher Red Faber, 1960s pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm (better known for his time with other teams), and, while we're talking about someone better known for playing with another team, 1972-76 pitcher Rich "Goose" Gossage.
Walsh, Jackson, Collins and Wynn were named to The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Players in 1999. The fact that the White Sox have have only 1 player on that list who played for them after the Roaring Twenties is very telling.
Stuff. Chicago Sports Depot stores are located on the first level of the park, behind home plate and at each outfield corner. The usual items that can be found at a souvenir store can be found there.
Chicago is a great literary city, and while the Cubs have been seen as the more romantic team, there have been a lot of good books about the White Sox:
* Who's On 3rd? The Chicago White Sox Story, Richard Lindberg's tale that takes them from their 1901 founding up to the 1984 season.
* When Chicago Ruled Baseball: The Cubs-White Sox World Series of 1906, a 100th Anniversary tribute by Bernard A. Weisberger -- even in a Series where they beat the Cubs, the Sox don't get top billing!
* Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series, the definitive book on the greatest of all baseball scandals, by Eliot Asinof. It was made into the great 1988 film Eight Men Out, with John Sayles directing and playing legendary sportswriter Ring Lardner, the late Chicago icon Studs Terkel as Ring's colleague Hugh Fullerton, D.B. Sweeney as Shoeless Joe, and Chicago native John Cusack as the greatest victim of the scandal, 3rd baseman Buck Weaver. (When Ken Burns made his Baseball miniseries, he kind of gave both Chicago teams short shrift, but he interviewed Sayles and Terkel, and, reading accounts of the Series, Terkel and Cusack reprised their roles.)
* Minnie and the Mick: The Go-Go White Sox Challenge the Fabled Yankee Dynasty, 1951 to 1964, Bob Vanderberg's tale of growing up in Chicago in the Eisenhower and Kennedy years, with the irony of Minnie Minoso being away from the Sox for their one Pennant from 1919 to 2005, before returning. (Minoso returned by 1964, when the Yanks beat the Sox out for the Pennant by one game.)
* Go-Go to Glory: The 1959 Chicago White Sox, a 50th Anniversary tribute by Bill Nowlin.
* South Side Hitmen: The Story of the 1977 Chicago White Sox, by Dan Helpingstine and Leo Bauby, about the first White Sox team I can remember and one that, for a brief time, made the Pale Hose cooler than the Cubbies.
* Stealing First in a Two-team Town: The White Sox from Comiskey to Reinsdorf, the aforementioned Richard Lindberg updating the story through the Sox' 1993 Division title.
* Sox and the City: A Fan's Love Affair with the White Sox from the Heartbreak of '67 to the Wizards of Oz, by Chicago Sun-Times film critic Richard Roeper, going up to the 2005 title.
Available DVDs include White Sox Memories: The Greatest Moments in Chicago White Sox History, and the official 2005 World Series highlight film package. This is the only World Series the South Siders have won since official WS highlight films have been made.
During the Game. White Sox fans can get a bit rough, and they do like to drink. However, if you don't antagonize them, they will probably give you no worse than a bit of verbal.
The White Sox have a mascot, a big furry yellow thing called Southpaw, a reference to the team playing on the South Side. Their 1980s mascots, Ribbie and Rhubarb, are long gone.
The White Sox have a theme song, "Go-Go White Sox," which is what their 1959 Pennant winners were called, and it's a pretty rousing number, certainly with better lyrics than either "Here Come the Yankees" or "Meet the Mets."
The White Sox, led by organist Nancy Faust (who retired after the 2010 season), were the first team to use the 1969 Steam chart-topper "Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)" to serenade a pitcher getting knocked out of the game. And if they win, they will play, appropriate for the South Side, the blues standard "Sweet Home Chicago."
After the Game. The neighborhood should be safe after a day game, but after a night game, with all that extra time to drink, it can get a little dodgy. As I said, leave them alone, and they'll probably leave you alone.
If you want to be around other New Yorkers, I found listings of 4 Chicago bars where New York Giants fans gather: Red Ivy, just south of Wrigley at 3519 N. Clark Street at Eddy Street; The Bad Dog Tavern, 4535 N. Lincoln Avenue at Wilson Avenue (Brown Line to Western); Racine Plumbing Bar and Grill, 2642 N. Lincoln Avenue at Kenmore; and Trinity, at 2721 N. Halsted Street at Diversey Parkway (Brown or Purple Line to Diversey for either Racine or Trinity).
And I found these 3 which show Jets games: Rebel Bar & Grill, also just south of Wrigley at 3462 N. Clark at Cornelia Avenue; Butch McGuire's, 20 W. Division Street at Dearborn Street (Red Line to Clark/Division); and Wabash Tap, at 1233 S. Wabash Avenue, at 12th Street. Red Line to Roosevelt.
Note that all of these are a lot closer to Wrigley than to The Cell. But there are plenty of good places in the city to get a postgame meal, or just a pint.
Sidelights. Chicago is one of the best sports cities, not just in America, but on the planet. Check out the following – but do it in daylight, as the city’s reputation for crime, while significantly reduced from its 1980s peak, is still there. For my thoughts on Wrigley Field, check out my post on the subject.
* Site of old Comiskey Park. The longtime home of the White Sox, 1910 to 1990, was at 324 W. 35th Street at Shields Avenue (a.k.a. Bill Veeck Drive), and is now a parking lot, with its infield painted in. This was the home field of Big Ed Walsh (the pitcher supposedly helped design it to be a pitchers’ park), Eddie Collins, Shoeless Joe Jackson and the rest of the “Black Sox,” Luke Appling, the great double-play combination of Luis Aparicio and Nellie Fox of the ’59 “Go-Go White Sox,” Dick Allen, the 1977 “South Side Hit Men” of Richie Zisk and Oscar Gamble, and the 1983 Division Champions of Carlton Fisk, Ron Kittle, LaMarr Hoyt and Harold Baines.
The old Comiskey was also where future Yankee stars Russell “Bucky” Dent and Rich “Goose” Gossage began their careers, and where, in the last game the Yankees ever played there, Andy Hawkins pitched a no-hitter – and lost, thanks to his own walks and 3 errors in the 8th inning.
The NFL’s Chicago Cardinals played there from 1922 to 1959, and the franchise, now the Arizona Cardinals, won what remains their only NFL Championship Game (they didn’t call ‘em Super Bowls back then) there in 1947. And in 1979, during what was supposed to be intermission between games of a White Sox vs. Tigers doubleheader, was Disco Demolition Night. Today, it’s called a fiasco, but the sentiment was right: Disco really did suck. But the biggest music event there was the Beatles' concert on August 20, 1965.
* Previous Chicago ballparks. The Cubs previously played at these parks:
State Street Grounds, also called 23rd Street Grounds, 1874-77, winning the NL’s first Pennant in 1876, 23rd, State, and Federal Streets & Cermak Road (formerly 22nd Street), Red Line to Cermak-Chinatown.
Lakefront Park, also called Union Base-Ball Grounds and White-Stocking Park (the Cubs used the name “Chicago White Stockings” until 1900, and the AL entry then took the name), 1878-84, winning the 1880, ’81 and ’82 Pennants, Michigan Avenue & Randolph Street in the northwest corner of what’s now Millennium Park, with (appropriately) Wrigley Square built on the precise site. Randolph/Wabash or Madison/Wabash stops on the Loop.
West Side Park I, 1885-91, winning the 1885 and ’86 Pennants, at Congress, Loomis, Harrison & Throop Streets, now part of the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Blue Line to Racine.
South Side Park, 1891-93, just east of where the Comiskey Parks were built.
West Side Park II, 1893-1915, winning the 1906 and 1910 Pennants and the 1907 and 1908 World Series, the only World Series the Cubs have ever won, at Taylor, Wood and Polk Streets and Wolcott Avenue, now the site of a medical campus that includes the Cook County Hospital, the basis for the TV show ER, Pink Line to Polk. (Yes, the CTA has a Pink Line.)
Prior to the original Comiskey Park, the White Sox played at a different building called South Side Park, at 39th Street (now Pershing Road), 38th Street, & Wentworth and Princeton Avenues, a few blocks south of the Comiskey Parks.
* United Center and site of Chicago Stadium. From 1929 to 1994, the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks played at Chicago Stadium, “the Madhouse on Madison,” at 1800 W. Madison Street at Wood Street. The NBA’s Bulls played there from 1967 to 1994. The United Center opened across the street at 1901 W. Madison at Honore Street.
At the old Stadium, the Blackhawks won Stanley Cups in 1934, ’38 and ’61, and the Bulls won NBA Titles in 1991, ’92 and ’93. At the United Center, the Bulls won in 1996, ’97 and ’98 and the Blackhawks won the 2010 and '13 Cups -- and, as of this writing, have advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the 4th time in the last 6 seasons.
The Democrats had their Convention at Chicago Stadium in 1932, ’40 and ’44, nominating Franklin D. Roosevelt each time; the Republicans also had their Convention there in ’32 and ’44, nominating Herbert Hoover and Thomas E. Dewey, respectively. The Democrats held court (or rink) at the United Center in 1996, renominating Bill Clinton in their first Convention in Chicago since the disaster of 1968. And Elvis Presley gave concerts at the Stadium on June 16 and 17, 1972 -- giving the last of these as burglars were breaking into the Watergate complex in Washington.
Blue Line to Illinois Medical District (which can also be used to access the site of West Side Park II and ER), or Green or Pink Line to Ashland-Lake.
* Soldier Field. The original version of this legendary stadium opened in 1924, and for years was best known as the site of the Chicago College All-Star Game (a team of graduating seniors playing the defending NFL Champions) from 1934 to 1976.
It was the site of the 1927 heavyweight title fight between Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney, the famed “Long Count” fight, which may have had what remains the greatest attendance ever for a U.S. sporting event, with figures ranging from 104,000 to 130,000, depending on who you believe. It definitely was the site of the largest football crowd ever, 123,000 to see Notre Dame play USC a few weeks after the Long Count; in spite of various expansions, the universities of Michigan and Tennessee and Penn State still can’t top this. The 1926 Army-Navy Game was played there, in front of over 100,000.
Games of the 1994 World Cup and the 1999 Women's World Cup were also held at the old Soldier Field. MLS' Chicago Fire made it their 1st home ground, and 13 matches of the U.S. soccer team have been played on the site, most recently a 2013 win over Panama. The U.S. has won 6 of these games, lost 4 and tied 3. An NHL Stadium Series game was played there earlier this year, with the Blackhawks beating the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1.
Amazingly, the Bears played at Wrigley from 1921 to 1970, with the occasional single-game exception. The story I heard is that Bears founder-owner-coach George Halas was a good friend of both the Wrigley and Veeck families, and felt loyalty to them, and that’s why he stayed at Wrigley even though it had just 47,000 seats for football. But I heard another story that Halas was a Republican and didn’t like Chicago’s Democratic Mayor, Richard J. Daley (whose son Richard M. recently left office having broken his father’s record for longest-serving Mayor), and didn’t want to pay the city Parks Department a lot of rent. (This is believable, because Halas was known to be cheap: Mike Ditka, who nonetheless loved his old boss, said, “Halas throws nickels around like manhole covers.”) The real reason the Bears moved to Soldier Field in 1971 was Monday Night Football: Halas wanted the revenue, and Wrigley didn’t have lights until 1988.
A 2002-03 renovation demolished all but the iconic (if not Ionic, they're in the Doric style) Greek-style columns that used to hang over the stadium, and are now visible only from the outside. It doesn’t look like “Soldier Field” anymore: One critic called it The Eyesore on the Lake Shore. Capacity is now roughly what it was in the last few years prior to the renovation, 61,500. And while the Bears won 8 Championships while playing at Wrigley (8 more titles than the Cubs have won there), they’ve only won one more at Soldier Field, the 1985 title capped by Super Bowl XX. The Monsters of the Midway have been tremendous underachievers since leaving Wrigley, having been to only 1 of the last 28 Super Bowls (and losing it).
1410 S. Museum Campus Drive, at McFetridge and Lake Shore Drives, a bit of a walk from the closest station, Roosevelt station on the Green, Orange and Red Lines.
* Site of Chicago Coliseum. There were 2 buildings with this name that you should know about. One hosted the 1896 Democratic National Convention, where William Jennings Bryan began the process of turning the Democratic Party from the conservative party it had been since before the Civil War into the modern liberal party it became, a struggle that went through the Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt years before it finally lived up to its promise under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.
It was here that Bryan gave the speech for which he is most remembered, calling for the free coinage of silver rather than sticking solely to the gold standard: "You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold."
Now a part of Jackson Park, at 63rd Street & Stony Island Avenue. 63rd Street Metra (commuter rail) station.
The other was home to every Republican Convention from 1904 to 1920. Here, they nominated Theodore Roosevelt in 1904, William Howard Taft in 1908 and 1912, Charles Evans Hughes in 1916 and Warren Harding in 1920. When TR was maneuvered out of the nomination to return to office at the 1912 Convention, he held his subsequent Progressive Party Convention was also held there.
It was also the original home of the Blackhawks, from 1926 to 1929 and briefly again in 1932. In 1935, roller derby was invented there. In 1961, an NBA expansion team, the Chicago Packers, played there, becoming the Zephyrs in 1962 and moving to become the Baltimore Bullets in 1963 (and the Washington Bullets in 1973, and the Washington Wizards in 1997).
The Coliseum hosted a few rock concerts before the Fire Department shut it down in 1971, and it was demolished in 1982. The Soka Gakkai USA Culture Center, a Buddhist institute, now occupies the site. East side of Wabash Avenue at 15th Street, with today’s Coliseum Park across the street. Appropriately enough, the nearest CTA stop is at Roosevelt Avenue, on the Red, Yellow and Green Lines.
* Site of International Amphitheatre. Home to the Bulls in their first season, 1966-67, and to the World Hockey Association’s Chicago Cougars from 1972 to 1975, this arena, built by the stockyards in 1934, was home to a lot of big pro wrestling cards. Elvis sang here on March 28, 1957. The Beatles played here on September 5, 1964 and August 12, 1966.
But it was best known as a site for political conventions. Both parties met there in 1952 (The Republicans nominating Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Democrats the man was then Governor of Illinois, Adlai Stevenson), the Democrats in 1956 (Stevenson again), the Republicans in 1960 (Richard Nixon), and, most infamously, the Democrats in 1968 (Hubert Humphrey), with all the protests. The main protests for that convention were in Grant Park and a few blocks away on Michigan Avenue in front of the Conrad Hilton Hotel, one of the convention headquarters (now the Chicago Hilton & Towers. 720 S. Michigan).
The Amphitheatre, torn down in 1999, was at 4220 S. Halsted Street, where an Aramark plant now stands. Red Line to 47th Street. This location is definitely not to be visited after dark; indeed, unless you’re really interested in political history, I’d say, if you have to drop one item from this list, this is the one.
* Northwestern University. Chicago’s Big Ten school is just north of the city, in Evanston. Dyche Stadium/Ryan Field, and McGaw Hall/Welsh-Ryan Arena, are at 2705 Ashland Avenue between Central Street and Isabella Street. (Purple Line to Central.)
While Northwestern’s athletic teams have traditionally been terrible, the school has a very important place in sports history: The 1st NCAA basketball tournament championship game was held there in 1939, at Patten Gymnasium, at 2145 Sheridan Road: Oregon defeated Ohio State. The original Patten Gym was torn down a year later, and the school’s Technological Institute was built on the site. Sheridan Road, Noyes Street and Campus Drive. Purple Line to Noyes.
Welsh-Ryan, under the McGaw name, hosted the Final Four in 1956: Bill Russell and K.C. Jones, soon to be Boston Celtics stars, led the University of San Francisco past Iowa. These are the only 2 Final Fours ever to be held in the Chicago area.
* Toyota Park. MLS' Chicago Fire have played here since 2006. The U.S. soccer team has played here once, a 2008 win over Trinidad & Tobago. 7000 S. Harlem Avenue, Bridgeview, in the southwestern suburbs. Orange Line to Midway Airport, then transfer to the 379 or 390 bus.
* National Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame. Appropriately in Chicago's Little Italy, west of downtown, it includes a state uf Yankee legend Joe DiMaggio. Other New York native or playing baseball players honored include Joe Torre, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto, Billy Martin, Vic Raschi, Tony Lazzeri, Dave Righetti, Frank Crosetti, Roy Campanella, Sal Maglie, Mike Piazza, Bobby Valentine, John Franco, Carl Furillo, Frank Viola, Jim Fregosi, Ralph Branca, Rocky Colavito, broadcaster Joe Garagiola, and the last active player to have been a Brooklyn Dodger, Bob Aspromonte, and his brother Ken Aspromonte. 1431 W. Taylor Street at Loomis Street. Pink Line to Polk.
* Museums. Chicago’s got a bunch of good ones, as you would expect in a city of 3 million people. Their version of New York’s Museum of Natural History is the Field Museum, just north of Soldier Field. Adjacent is the Shedd Aquarium. On the other side of the Aquarium is their answer to the Hayden Planetarium, the Adler Planetarium. And they have a fantastic museum for which there is no real analogue in New York, though the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia is similar: The Museum of Science & Industry, at 57th Street & Cornell Drive, near the University of Chicago campus; 56th Street Metra station. The Art Institute of Chicago is their version of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, at 111 S. Michigan Avenue, just off the Loop.
* Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. If you’re a fan of that movie, as I am (see my 25th Anniversary retrospective, from June 2011), not only will you have taken in Wrigley Field, but you’ll recognize the Art Institute as where Alan Ruck focused on Georges Seurat’s painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.
Other sites visited by Ferris, Cameron and Sloane were the Sears Tower, then the tallest building in the world, 1,454 feet, 233 S. Wacker Drive (yes, the name is Wacker), Quincy/Wells station in the Loop; and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, 335 S. La Salle Street, LaSalle/Van Buren station in the Loop. (That station is also where Steve Martin & John Candy finally reached Chicago in another John Hughes film, Planes, Trains and Automobiles). The von Steuben Day Parade goes down Lincoln Avenue every September, on or close to the anniversary of Baron von Steuben's birth, not in the spring as in the film.
While the Bueller house was in Long Beach, California, the Frye house is in Highland Park, north of the city. Remember, it’s a private residence, and not open to the public, so I won’t provide the address. And the restaurant, Chez Quis, did not and does not exist.
Nor did, nor does, Adam's Ribs, a barbecue joint made famous in a 1974 M*A*S*H episode of the same title. Today, there are 18 restaurants in America named Adam's Ribs, including two on Long Island, on Park Boulevard in Massapequa Park and on the Montauk Highway in Babylon; and another on Cookstown-Wrightstown Road outside South Jersey's Fort Dix and McGuire Air Force Base. But only one is anywhere near Chicago, in Buffalo Grove in the northwestern suburbs.
Not far from that, in the western suburbs, is Wheaton, home town of football legend Red Grange and the comedic Belushi Brothers, John and Jim. John and Dan Aykroyd used Wrigley Field in The Blues Brothers, and Jim played an obsessive Cubs fan in Taking Care of Business. Their father, an Albanian immigrant, ran a restaurant called The Olympia Cafe, which became half the basis for John's Saturday Night Live sketch of the same name, better known as the Cheeseburger Sketch: "No hamburger! Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger... No fries, chips!... No Coke, Pepsi!"
Don Novello, an SNL writer who played Father Guido Sarducci, said the other half of the inspiration was the Billy Goat Tavern, originally operated by Greek immigrant William "Billy Goat" Sianis, originator of the supposed Billy Goat Curse on the Cubs, across Madison Street from Chicago Stadium, from 1937 until 1963. At that point, Sianis moved to the lower deck of the double-decked Michigan Avenue, since it was near the headquarters of the city's three daily newspapers, the Tribune, the Sun-Times, and the now-defunct Daily News. Mike Royko, who wrote columns for each of these papers, made it his haunt and frequently mentioned it in his columns.
Novello and Bill Murray, Chicagoans, were regulars at the Billy Goat, but John Belushi later said he'd never set foot in the place, so while the others may have drawn inspiration from it, his came from his father's restaurant.
Sam Sianis, nephew of the original Billy, still serves up a fantastic cheeseburger (he was there when I visited in 1999), he deviates from the sketch: No Pepsi, Coke. It's open for breakfast, and serves regular breakfast food. It looks foreboding, being underneath the elevated part of Michigan Avenue, and a sign out front (and on their website) says, "Enter at your own risk." But another sign says, "Butt in anytime." 430 N. Michigan Avenue, lower deck, across from the Tribune Tower. Red Line to Grand. The original location near Chicago Stadium has effectively been replaced, at 1535 W. Madison Street.
The Tribune Tower is a work of art in itself. Its building, Tribune publisher "Colonel" Robert R. McCormick, had stones taken from various famous structures all over the world: The Palace of Westminster in London, the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, the Grand Canyon. (He must've paid a lot of people off.) These can be seen at near ground level, but the building itself is so grand that it doesn't need it.
The building is also the headquarters of the TV and radio station that McCormick named for his paper: WGN, "The World's Greatest Newspaper," a line that has long since disappeared from the paper's masthead. 435 N. Michigan Avenue. Red Line to Grand.
The Wrigley Building is right across from it, at 400 N. Michigan. The block of North Michigan they're on is renamed Jack Brickhouse Way, and Brickhouse's statue is on the grounds of the Tribune Tower.
You may notice some other film landmarks. The Chicago Board of Trade Building was used as the Wayne Tower in Christopher Nolan’s Batman films. And Chicago stood in for Metropolis in the Superman-themed TV series Lois & Clark, with the Wrigley Building and the Tribune Tower as standout landmarks.
TV shows set in Chicago include The Untouchables, about Eliot Ness and his Depression-era crimebusters; Good Times, set in the infamous, now-demolished Cabrini-Green housing project; the related sitcoms Perfect Strangers and Family Matters (Great shows? Well, of course, they were, don't be ridiculous!); Married... with Children, Fox's longest-running non-cartoon (though the Bundy family was pretty darn cartoonish); the 1990s hospital dramas ER and Chicago Hope; Boss, the current show with Kelsey Grammer as a corrupt Mayor; and The Bob Newhart Show, with Bob as psychiatrist Dr. Bob Hartley.
Nearly every one of these shows was actually filmed in Los Angeles, and the exterior shots were also mostly L.A. sites, so don't bother going to look for them. However, a statue of Newhart is at the Navy Pier, near its amusement rides, between Grand Avenue & Illinois Street at the lake.
No President has ever come from Chicago, and none has a Presidential Library anywhere near it -- Abraham Lincoln's is 200 miles away, in the State capital of Springfield -- although many have Presidential connections. Most notably, the 1st true Presidential Debate, between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, was held on September 26, 1960, at the old CBS Studio, home to WBBM, 780 on your AM dial and Channel 2 on your TV. 630 N. McClurg Street. The building is no longer there. Red Line to Grand, then an 8-minute walk.
In the early days of American politics, any temporary meeting structure was called a “Wigwam,” which is a Native American word for a temporary dwelling. Chicago’s first Wigwam was at what is now 191 N. Upper Wacker Drive, right where the Chicago River splits into north and south branches. Abraham Lincoln was nominated there at their 1860 Convention. A modern office building is on the site today. Clark/Lake station in the Loop.
Another Wigwam stood at 205 East Randolph Street, in what was then called Lake Park, now Grant Park. The Democrats held their Convention there in 1892, nominating Grover Cleveland for the 3rd time. The Harris Theater is on the site today. Randolph/Wabash station in the Loop.
In 1864, the Democrats nominated General George B. McClellan at The Amphitheatre, 1100 South Michigan Avenue. A Best Western Hotel is on the site today. Red Line to Roosevelt. In 1868, the Republicans nominated Ulysses S. Grant at Crosby’s Opera House, 1 West Washington Street. A modern office building is on the site today. Blue Line to Washington.
The Interstate Industrial Exposition Building, a.k.a. the Glass Palace, was where the Republicans met and nominated James Garfield in 1880, and both parties met in 1884, the Republicans nominating James G. Blaine and the Democrats nominating Cleveland for the 1st time. 111 South Michigan Avenue. The aforementioned Art Institute of Chicago is on the site today. Adams/Wabash station in the Loop. And in 1888, the Republicans met at the Auditorium Building, 430 South Michigan Avenue. It still stands. Harold Washington Library station, a.k.a. State-Van Buren station, in the Loop.
Every American should visit Chicago. And with the Sox having the smaller attendances, you'll have an easier time getting into U.S. Cellular Field than into Wrigley. Have fun -- but remember, be smart, and don't go out of your way to antagonize anyone.