Back to that very first time…

One Good Thing…

It’s time for the weekly  post of a feature I’ve chosen to title “One Good Thing.” Each weekend, I’ll post something about what has been good to—or for—me during the week.

Earlier this week, I spent a few hours watching several episodes of my  Ken Burns’s Baseball CD, something I tend to do every year right about this time.  Taking the nostalgic journey back through baseball’s past—full of players, teams, and stadiums—seemed like an appropriate thing to do, given that the start of another Major League Baseball season is right around the corner.

(Photo courtesy of


And anyone who has read my blog posts for a while knows that I’m a life-long Chicago White Sox fan, old enough to remember many wonderful (and sometimes not-so-wonderful) moments at old Comiskey Park.


From the time my grandfather and uncle took my cousin and me to our first ballgame back somewhere in the late ’50s, I have rooted and cheered, lived and died, with the Sox.

Going to White Sox games was always a special event for one reason or another. From my very visit to Comiskey Park, to the last time I was there before it closed and the team moved across the street to their new ball yard in 1991, the first thing that always hit my senses was the delectable aroma of hot dogs and onions grilling in the concession stands along the lower concourse. Believe me, there was—and is—nothing finer than to have that greet you upon entering the ballpark!

Lower Concourse (courtesy of flying

Seeing the playing field for the first time, as my grandfather held my hand, edging us up the short flight of stairs to the seats behind home plate, was a spectacular image I’ve never forgotten: Green! Perfectly coiffed infield dirt! More green way out there in the outfield! Thousands of dark green seats! And a monster of a scoreboard, sitting quietly, waiting for the action that would follow along soon!

Batting practice and pre-game infield was happening all at once right out there in front of my impressionable self, and my wide-open young eyes couldn’t take it all in fast enough—nor my ears.

The loud crack of the bats connecting squarely with pitched balls. The thumps and pops of the baseballs slamming into the catcher’s mitt or the fielders playing catch out on the distant greensward were new and exciting parts of watching a big league ball game I’d had no previous experience with.

The colors! The White Sox in their classic white and black pinstriped home uniforms were just as I had imagined from the pictures created over the radio. And the few times I had been able to see them on TV (it was black and white then) and now seeing it all in person was almost more than this young boy could manage.

Being able to pick out—in the flesh—my heroes was probably worth the price my grandfather had paid for the ticket that day. We could have walked out of the park right then and there and missed the whole game itself, and I wouldn’t have cared. I had seen Nellie Fox and others warming up and batting just a short distance away, and nothing else really mattered from that point on.

Nellie Fox (courtesy of baseball

I remember that the Baltimore Orioles were the visitors, and they were clad in traveling gray with orange trim. The players seemed so old (I was 8 or 9) and they all went about their duties very business like, with that certain confident air that seemed to make them a cut above all the players who hadn’t made it to the big time—yet.

Soon, the game began, and I don’t really remember who won that day. I’m pretty certain it was a pitchers’ duel, though, since that’s what all Sox games tended to be.

I made it through a very long day at Comiskey Park, and I readily fell asleep once we were on the train back to my home in Indiana afterwards. I’m not sure, but if I were to wager a guess as to what went through my sleep-filled head that night, it would be that someday I wanted nothing more than to be just like those White Sox I’d had the pleasure to see in person for the very first time, playing the greatest game in the world!

Until next time, that’s one good thing…


It happens every spring…

One Good Thing…
It’s time for the weekly  post of a feature I’ve chosen to title “One Good Thing.” Each weekend, I’ll post something about what has been good to—or for—me during the week. 

As usually happens, my week has been filled with plenty of “good.” What stands out particularly for me this week, though, is that major league spring training is under way. For non-baseball fans, that bit of info probably doesn’t mean too much. For those who are fans of America’s greatest pastime, however, it’s one of the happiest events of the year!

I must confess, I’m a lifelong Chicago White Sox fan. When I say lifelong, I mean lifelong! I have some upcoming posts regarding just how that all came about. For now, though, all thoughts are on spring training and the beginnings of a brand new season.

photo courtesy of

Last season’s depression has been shunted into the never-want-to-think-about-it-again vault, replaced by nothing but happy, positive thoughts of maybe…just maybe!

Promises of fun times once again at the old ballpark brighten winter’s gloom and transport me back to so many wonderful days of summers spent riding the waves of my White Sox fortunes–or lack of same.

Growing up, I would forget about my White Sox during the winter months. Not because I didn’t care about them, but because I was too caught up in playing hockey and doing school things.

Then, as February got going during those years, I began to see small stories on the sports pages and perhaps a brief mention every now and then on the evening TV sports that Major League spring training camps would be opening pretty soon.

And I would begin to think about those wonderful spring days ahead, and winter wouldn’t seem so long.

Spring training in those days always seemed so very far away. Sarasota, where the White Sox trained and played their spring games at Payne Park, was way down in Florida, as were most other teams’ camps.

Having never been to Florida, or anywhere else in the South for that matter, I was quite unfamiliar with the lay of the land, other than it must be vastly different from my home in Huntington, Indiana.

Places like Sarasota, Pompano, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Tampa, Bradenton, and Vero Beach sounded like sunny villages far, far away. And, I guess, to a young boy of 11, they probably were!

In my mind, I tried to picture and imagine what these remote, out-of-the-way Florida outposts looked like. Were there palm trees in the outfield? Or the blue Gulf of Mexico just over the outfield fence?

Did White Sox players spend hours every day shagging so many fly balls in the outfield under the hot sun? Were there orange groves all around? What did the players do when they weren’t working out or practicing? Oh, so many youthful questions! And since there wasn’t any TV coverage then, my young imagination was in overdrive.

Remembering the innocence that was my youthful imagining of White Sox spring training all these years later, has me eager for the new baseball season.

The White Sox haven’t been in Sarasota for several years, moving spring operations to Glendale, Arizona, in 1997, but I’m pretty sure spring training in the Arizona sunshine has created vivid images in the minds of young Sox fans the same as they did all those years ago for this not-so-young-anymore fan!

Until next time, that’s one good thing…