I remember the old days at Comiskey Park. And not the new one that became U.S. Cellular Field, either. The old one that Babe Ruth played in, and where Steve Dahl killed disco in 1979. Those were both before my time in Chicago, but I did get to go there a few times before they tore it down.
Perhaps my favorite memory was going there to see the Sox play the Bash Brothers/Oakland A’s back in the late 1980s. Wrigley was my baseball destination of choice, then and now, but Chicago, unlike most other places, has a ballgame going on just about every day, all summer long. And if that means a ride to the South Side on the CTA, so be it.
When I was at a Cubs game recently at Wrigley, I complained to the people I was with that the Cubs’ PA announcer makes their players sound like prizes on a game show when they came up to bat: Now batting, Starlin Castro! And a week for two in lovely Cancun, Mexico! And that’s a complete 180 from the way that the White Sox players were announced and, for all I know, still are announced when they come to the plate.
The White Sox PA announcer gives the player’s number, heads right for the first name, then pauses for just a split second, and spits out the player’s last name like it’s a contemptible act of some kind. Number seventy-two Carlton….FISK! Number thirteen Ozzie….GE-YEN!
So on a day when Ozzie gets fired by the Marlins, and Fisk is arrested in a cornfield, I remember them both in some small way. Memories of the old Comiskey Park, and all the players who played there once, will linger for a while–a few decades, even–but soon enough they will disappear.
Ozzie could manage again, or at least be on someone’s coaching staff, and Fisk will get off with community service or maybe a court-ordered “Don’t drink and drive” TV ad. But they won’t ever wear those goofy 80s unis, or play in the old Comiskey Park, or hear their names called out with such a hard-assed edge ever again. They’re fortunate enough to have ever done these things in the first place, but now life goes on for them, just as it does for the rest of us, too. And so long as we avoided a pink slip or a mug shot, most of us had a better day than these guys did.