Saturday, January 5, 2013

It Was Easy Becoming A Chicago White Sox Fan

I was a young lad of 7 and living in Jacksonville, Fl when the White Sox eventually won the American League pennant in 1959.  My family (Mom, Dad, older bro' Bill and baby bro', Mike) lived in a quiet but sprawling neighborhood on Nightingale Court and kids nearby often played baseball in the streets. During that Summer of '59, my older brother (a Detroit Tigers fan at the time) explained to me that it was mandatory every kid have a favorite baseball team.  He narrowed the list of teams from which I could choose a favorite, because 'his team' was already the Detroit Tigers and neighborhood kids already 'owned' the Cubs and Yankees; so those teams were automatically ruled out for me.

One Summer morning my brothers and I were at the breakfast table eating Sugar Smacks, Cocoa Krispies or one of those other sugary enriched cereals. Bill purposefully slid the newspaper's sport section in front of the cereal box I was admiring and strongly suggested that instant was the time to select 'my favorite team' from the major league baseball standings listed in that morning's newspaper ..... On that particular Summer day in '59, at the top of the newspaper's American League standings were the 1st place Chicago White Sox and it was at that precise moment , that I proudly proclaimed the White Sox as my favorite team then and forever more.  I mean, afterall, the White Sox were in first place, and my liking was to choose a winner! Right?

Spring    -   Billy       Mike       Bobby   -   1960
Jacksonville, Florida 

Through the years, I've written and spoken to many Chicago White Sox players from those golden years of the 50's and 60's. Here are a few comments I received over the years from a few of yesterday's heroes. (I intend to post more player and coach comments in the weeks and months to follow).

Walt Dropo: "My favorite ballpark was Fenway Park. The leftfield wall was so inviting as I was a right hand hitting 1st baseman. The most exciting moment was when I set the record '12 consecutive hits' July 15th 1952".

Paul LaPalme: "I am so glad I played in the '50's as I feel it was the best time for baseball - great players and fans. I just loved the old parks. My greatest thrill was my first start in '51 as a rookie pitching against Boston, and beat them 5 to 0 on a 4-hitter. I also loved to pitch in the Polo Ground, did very well in that park. It was a dream come true as a boy."

Bill Serena:  "My favorite stadium was Wrigley Field. It was all day games and for me baseball was made to play in the sun. My biggest thrill I guess you would say, is being in the Big Leagues and playing with or against such great players as Jackie Robinson, Stan Musial, Robin Roberts, Ralph Kiner, Roy Campenella, and so many more, as these were just a few. Oh yes! My friend, Ernie Banks. Those were the good days and played on the field - not by a union. The game now has changed so much. I don't understand it. I have just retired after 47 years in the game, and still don't know what's going on - except - 'money'." (commenting on the 1994 strike).

Jerry Staley: "I think playing in the (1959) World Series was my favorite moment in baseball and the old White Sox Park was a good park to pitch in. The new park would be even better to pitch in."

Billy Pierce:  "My favorite memory, although I am fortunate to have quite a few, is pitching the last inning of the 1962 playoffs to the win the pennant for the San Fransisco Giants.  Other than Comiskey Park (being my favorite), I would have to say Yankee Stadium because of the great history of the park."

1961 NY Yankees Roger Maris Goes Yard Against White Sox Billy Pierce 

Al Smith:  "My most exciting moment was playing in my 1st World Series in Cleveland. I would say there were two best players I ever saw, all around fielding, hitting, and throwing: Willie Mays and Joe DiMaggio. The toughest pitcher I faced was New York Yankees Allie Reynolds. Jim Landis was the greatest White Sox center fielder, ever! Al Lopez, a good man and was a strong manager. Nellie Fox was my favorite White Sox player, and he would not give an inch. Luis Aparicio was the greatest shortstop in both leagues. When Juan Pizarro came to us (White Sox), he would battle you down to the wire."


  1. I love the players' testimonials that you research and include. They add so much to your outstanding blog. Also thank you for your personal back-story. Did you see any White Sox spring training games in Sarasota?

  2. Appreciate your comments.
    Not until the early '90's did I see the White Sox in Spring Training. As a kid in Jacksonville, doubt I ever knew what 'spring training' was...and it was all so nearby. Glancing at photos of Payne Park in Sarasota, it's easy to understand how people believe the atmosphere and visual surroundings were a perfect place for watching White Sox Spring Training games. The hotel towering close by the park certainly added a unique and attractive backdrop.