Take me out to the ball game

Even though the baseball season started last week, today is the White Sox’s home opener against the Detroit Tigers.  I’m feeling like E:

In Chicago, baseball permeates the whole town, whether you like the game or not.  Some of this, I’m sure, is due to the insane traffic jams and public transportation snarls that the home games cause.  It’s good to know, for example, when the two Cross-Town Classic series (White Sox v. Cubs) are scheduled so that you can plan your path around the city accordingly.  But it’s more than that.  Baseball contributes to the cultural identity for lots of people around here.  There are lifelong Cubs fans who can trace their families’ loyalty to the team back to the beginning, and the same is true of Sox fans.  Saying that you are a Sox fan, for some people, is on par with saying “I’m South Side Irish.”  It’s part of your heritage.

(As a side note: that’s why it’s so fun to watch politicians try to navigate their way past the question, “Cubs or Sox fan?” No one wants to alienate a good chunk of the city on a team preference.  Personally, I like to see the candidates own up to their loyalties — just come right out and say it.  I can respect that more than the convoluted verbal dance around a straightforward question.)

I am not a Chicago native, although I have lived here longer than anywhere else in my life.   When I first moved here, I went to Cubs games because 1) Wrigley Field was closer to me than the old Comiskey Park; and 2) it was easy to get there by public transportation.  I sat in the bleacher seats and got sunburned even as I froze in the chilly winds during the early spring games.  It was awesome.

My husband’s extended family are diehard Cubs fans (and given that S’s dad was the oldest of 11 kids, his family is E-X-T-E-N-D-E-D when you take into account all the aunts, uncles, cousins and their kids).  All of them love the Cubs, except my husband and his brother who are both Sox fans.  I’m still not sure how that happened.

When I married S, one of his aunts came up to me at our wedding reception and told me that she expected me to “bring him back into the fold.”  The Cubs fold, that is.

Later, when our first child (M) was born, this same aunt gave us the complete Cubs gear for a baby:  Cubs rattle, Cubs bottle, Cubs onesie, Cubs baby hat.  As I opened her gift, she leaned in towards me and said with a slightly menacing seriousness, “I trust that this baby will be a Cubs fan.”

Fast forward to 2005.  M was in first grade and just beginning to become aware of baseball.  S’s brother just happened to get tickets for a White Sox home game, so he took M and S.  They had a blast.  M watched the game and ate tons of hot dogs, ice cream and all sorts of junk food.  He came home with a new Sox hat and an appreciation for ballpark cuisine.  Later that same year, he hung out with us as we watched the Sox make the playoffs and eventually win the World Series.  That sealed it — M was a Sox fan, just like S.  By the time the twins knew anything about baseball, I had already converted — for the sake of the children, you know.

I’m not sure his aunt has ever really forgiven me.

How about you?  Baseball fan or no?  Do you love a particular team or are you just happy to watch your kids play Little League?

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About thethingaboutjoan

Mom of three who knits a little, bakes a lot, crafts a bit and blogs about it all.
This entry was posted in baseball, Chicago, Family and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Take me out to the ball game

  1. Micha says:

    Love baseball! But I have a question…how do Chicago peeps feel about Yankees fans? 😉

    • Hee! I think you might already know the answer to that!

      • Micha says:

        Haha…It’s gotta be better than here, though…I’m a Yankees fan in Phillies country! 😦

      • Micha says:

        Weird, your reply showed up on my baked beans post! hehe…In response to this: “Oh, that has to be hard…especially these last few seasons! Honestly? I think White Sox fans tend to focus more on “are we better than the Cubs” than the Yankees. Until y’all come to our stadium, that is. :)”

        I’m originally from NJ and we don’t have a team, but we grew up Yankees fans. My kids are, too, even though I didn’t make them! haha. Hubby is from around here in PA, and while he’s not a big baseball fan, he must go against us and root for the Phillies. I just tell the kids that they should root for their team (whoever they want to root for) and not bash other teams. I’m telling you, the Phillies fans that I’ve come across don’t seem to have that same philosophy! haha. I’m not from around here, so it’s not like I’m being a traitor! Geesh. 😉

      • That is weird! I’m going to try to reply to you here and see what happens…

        Given that I first rooted for the Cubs when I moved to Chicago back in the day, I’ve tried to do the same thing as you. I tell the kids that they should be fans for both the Cubs and the Sox (unless they’re playing each other) because they’re both Chicago teams and aren’t we lucky to have two MLB teams? Yeah. The kids, led by M, go out of their way to be White Sox fans. Oh well. I tried. 🙂

        Aren’t you glad your husband wasn’t a Red Sox fan? That might make for some tension…. 😉

      • Micha says:

        Haha – Yes! You’d be amazed at how many friends I have that are Red Sox fans! Have a great weekend!

  2. alenaslife says:

    I laughed when I read this because baseball fans in Chicago can be so “passionate.” We definitely wear the Cubbie blue in our house, which has provided ample pportunities for me to teach my sons about grace in defeat. However, I have no tolerance for the rabid Cub or Sox hatred that exists. If they’re a Chicago team, I’ll cheer as lound as anyone else.
    Now if someone could please explain how my 7 year-old has attached himself to the Miami Heat and Marlins, I’d really appreciate it. (Last night’s basketball game almost led to an all-out brawl.)

    • I totally agree with the zero “tolerance for rabid Cub or Sox hatred” — I’ve seen some people get COMPLETELY out of control and it’s truly horrible.

      I’ve had this discussion at the bus stop: Would it be awesome to have a Cubs-Sox World Series (Yes!), but would the rabid element get out of control and ruin it for all of us? Unfortunately, I think so. Ugh.

      For a while last spring, C decided he was a Cardinals fan — because it was the name of his Little League team. I thought S’s aunt was going to lose it completely when C proudly mentioned it at a family get-together.

  3. Miss Erma says:

    I used to love going to the ballpark and your post brought back many memories for me. My dad was an avid baseball fan. He used to dole out advice with baseball analogies! Thanks for the inspiration to get back to the ballpark. By the way, I’m a Cubs fan and my husband is a die-hard Sox fan. When the Cubs do worse than the Sox, I never hear the end of it, pity me!

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