Yesterday, the script was flipped.
One of the school district officials offered my family and I their tickets to the White Sox game that afternoon. Now, I may be a Cubs fan, but free baseball is always good baseball and it's a rule in our household to never turn down free tickets to any event - we value experiences. Furthermore, I hold absolutely no ill will towards the South Side ballclub and they just so happen to be my wife's team of choice. Thus, when I woke up that morning and marveled at the blue, cloudless sky and felt the warm glow of the sun on my bare arms, I uttered "it's a beautiful day for a ballgame" with anticipation instead of longing.
It was Family Sunday at the place they now call Guaranteed Rate Field, which is a gaudy new corporate moniker that no one seems to have embraced yet. Sox Park works for me - although, I do enjoy the nickname of Garfield. Anyway, Family Sunday means they broke out the "Winning Ugly" era uniforms, which is the look that I am most partial to, when it comes to White Sox duds.
The visitors that day were the Cleveland Indians and while I am mostly indifferent about the Sox, I sure wouldn't have minded watching the Indians lose another game, just for old time's sake 😝
As you can tell from the picture above, the seats were pretty damn decent. In the section immediately next to the right of the visiting bullpen, we had four seats starting from row one, seat one. For a better idea of where we plopped our keesters, I'll refer you to a screenshot from the broadcast:
As Abraham Almonte is about to muff a Jose Abreu single (leading to an unearned run), if you squint, you can just barely make out our group in the red oval. These were definitely some of the nicest tickets that I've ever had in a Major League stadium. An unencumbered view and easy exit for snack and bathroom breaks = perfection.
Now, as I mentioned earlier, this was Family Sunday. Besides the early 1980's throwback uniforms, this meant another popular promotion was on tap for the day: mascot races. Like many a MLB club, the White Sox have noticed the popularity of the "sausage races" in nearby Milwaukee and have appropriated them for their own amusement. Washington uses the presidents, Pittsburgh races pierogies, and the South Side of Chicago makes use of caricature versions of franchise favorites.
In years past, names like Carlton Fisk and Paul Konerko have gotten the treatment; meanwhile, this year, the three competitors appear to be Dick Allen, Bill Melton, and Goose Gossage of the 1972 White Sox. I'd be curious to see the selection process that goes on behind closed doors, also, if any of those guys have had nightmares after seeing their mugs plastered on a giant sausage.
Normally, this sort of promotion would elicit little more than an eye-roll from me, seeing as it's a gimmicky rehashing of another ballclub's shtick. That said, for several years now, the White Sox have added another level to this goofiness that definitely catches my attention. Upon entering the ballpark, every patron is handed a coupon book and a manufacturer's coupon for North Star ice cream products:
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream; but, I think we can all agree that a buck or two off of a box of "drumsticks" isn't all that exciting. However, once you flip these coupons over, things get much "cooler:"
FREE BASEBALL CARDS!! WEEEEEE!!!!!!
The front side of these coincidentally 2.5" x 3.5" coupons feature the racing White Sox legends, in all of their phallic glory. The design of these cards is actually quite solid - the cropped image of the racing "sausage" is set against a black and white image of the ballpark, framed with deep red, slashed corners, plus a couple of sponsor logos. I think this layout would make for a desirable and collectible, traditional team-issued set, if the franchise were to pursue such an endeavor.
Between my wife, my brother, my father and I, we obtained cards/coupons featuring Melton and Allen and duplicates, but no Gossage. Almost a full set... *womp womp*
I wasn't too disappointed, as I still had a primo view while the Indians booted balls all over the diamond (three errors), allowing the Derek Holland and the Sox to break an confounding 23-inning scoreless streak and cruise to an easy 6-2 victory.
Notably, at least for me, was the fact that former Cub (and White Sock) Austin Jackson started in center field for the Indians that afternoon. Naturally, seeing as I am obsessed with the Cubs and their player movement (hence the CATRC), the ex-Cub quotient is something I always pay attention to when I take in a ball game. In addition to Jackson, who was a late addition to the playoff-bound 2015 Cubs and who went 2 for 3 with a double in the game at hand, the White Sox had Zach Putnam at the ready in their bullpen and Rick Renteria calling the shots from the dugout.
The card which reps Austin in my CATRC
After a few more minutes of ducking and dodging, the perp was finally taken down, nearly naked and afraid. At any rate, with the game having been long in hand, the incident provided some bonus excitement. That said, please drink responsibly, folks.
Image courtesy of
All in all, we had ourselves a grand ol' time at Guaranteed Rate Field... Garfield... Sox Park... whatever you want to call it. Watching the home team beat up on the Cubs' World Series foes, on a picture perfect spring day, certainly beats running errands and meal prepping, my wife and I's normal Sunday afternoon commitments.
Once Robertson wrapped up the game, we began making our way through the concourse. Amidst the shuffling herd of humanity, I spotted what appeared to be a North Star coupon, face down and abandoned on the cold, hard cement. Without missing a beat, I quickly zigged and zagged through the crowd and retrieved the lost coupon card, with fingers crossed in anticipation that it might just be the card the I needed to complete my "sausage Sox" set.
Was I so lucky?
Yes. I. Was! Hot dog!!!! (See what I did there?)
All things considered, it was the Gossage card that I desired most, seeing as he is one of the relative few men to have played on both the South Side (1972-76) and North Side (1988) of the Windy City. Seeing as how I keep a PC going of everyone who has ever suited up for the Chicago Cubs, in addition to my main CATRC binder, this makes for an awesome and unique oddball addition to the Gossage section. Although, as you can see from the scanned, it's fairly scuffed, warped, and worn from being left on the pavement and stomped on by the retreating crowd; nevertheless, happening upon this wanted souvenir put an exclamation point on an already stellar day.
The Goose that sits in my CATRC
And so, I think I can definitely say that my first baseball game of 2017 was a success, based on any merit. Free tickets, picture perfect weather, phenomenal company, home team victory, Indians lose again, free baseball cards, a streaker, and the bonus card find all combined to make it so. Here's hoping my first Cubs game of the year is as successful, that is, if I can even afford to make it to Wrigley this year. Those ticket prices... yikes!
That's okay, there's always the cheapest tickets in Major League Baseball (White Sox) and minor league baseball to be caught. After all, the school I work for just so happens to be immediately next door to the Frontier League's Windy City Thunderbolts; talk about a perfect arrangement for this baseball nut! With that in mind, on those spring and summer mornings when I wake up and think to myself, "gosh, it's a beautiful day for a ballgame," there should be no shortage of options to capitalize!
Don't you just love baseball season?