September 2009

Phillips High School

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Volunteer Corps Event

Just returned from a day spent at Phillips High School as part of the White Sox Volunteer Corps.  Thank you to all of the 475 volunteers who took part in painting, landscaping, construction and general work on the venerable building and school.

My back is already tired from working with a team of Volunteers to clean off, rake and then re-do the baseball diamond just north of the school.  I also pitched in with friends Juan and Jon (who have attended many other events) to drill a few screws on the construction project they were finishing.

The work was amazing to see, particularly the mosiac of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., made completely from dominoes.

Here’s the press release on the day:

WHITE SOX HELP TRANSFORM SOUTH SIDE SCHOOL
Members of White Sox Volunteer Corps and Players
Participate in Service Project On Chicago’s South Side

CHICAGO – The Chicago White Sox Volunteer Corps participated in a large-scale service project today at  Wendell Phillips Academy High School/Ida B. Wells Preparatory Elementary School on Chicago’s South Side.

Nearly 500 members of the White Sox Volunteer Corps, along with players, front office staff and members of Chicago Cares assisted in the transformation of the historic Bronzeville neighborhood school on the South Side of Chicago, blocks away from U.S. Cellular Field.

The White Sox Volunteer Corps was created by the organization in response to President Obama’s call for Americans to better their communities through service.  This season, the team has organized community service events that have incorporated support from players, staff and members of the new volunteer group.  More than 3,000 Sox fans and community-focused Chicagoans have signed up for the volunteer corps since its inception. 
 
The transformation of the Phillips High School/Wells Prep Elementary School included:
? The painting of 30 school entrances, 15 classrooms, several stairwells and hallways, in addition to a cafeteria, library, weight room and training room;
? The reconstruction of a baseball field on the school’s campus;
? The creation of a flagstone entrance for faculty;
? And the creation of a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. mosaic in the girls gymnasium.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, alongside Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and Chicago Fire Commissioner John Brooks, kicked off the day’s activities with words of encouragement for volunteers.  White Sox players Daniel Hudson, Alexei Ramirez and Randy Williams, along with coaches Don Cooper, Jeff Cox and Juan Nieves joined volunteers at the school during the transformation.

This White Sox Service Day was developed in partnership with Chicago Cares, with members of the non-profit organization leading the coordination of projects.

And here is the link to a story from whitesox.com:

Click here to read it

To see what members of the Volunteer Corps had to say about today’s events and others this year, Click here.

And some early photos from the day …

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Homestand Ends

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tonight’s Lineup

Pods 7, Ramirez 6, AJ 2, PK dh, JD 9, Kotsay 3, Rios 8, Getz 4, Nix 5. Garcia pitching.

White Sox Food Drive

On Saturday, September 19, the Chicago White Sox will host our Annual White Sox Wives Food Drive. White Sox players’ wives and Greater Chicago Food Depository volunteers will be at the U.S. Cellular Field gates to collect non-perishable food donations and monetary gifts from fans.

In an effort to make this year’s drive the best ever, the White Sox are asking fans to conduct a local food drive before September 19. Reach out to your neighbors, teammates, classrooms, etc., and ask others to donate non-perishable food items. Then bring your collection to the game on September 19. All who donate (monetary donations also are welcome) will receive a raffle ticket for the chance to win autographed memorabilia from current White Sox team members.

If you cannot attend the game, food donations may be dropped off at U.S. Cellular Field beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, September 14 through noon on Saturday, September 19. Donations should be dropped at Gate 4 (located on the northwest corner of the ballpark).

For more information, check out the community section of www.whitesox.com.

Volunteer Corps

Almost 500 White Sox Volunteer Corps members are going to meet at 8:15 a.m. tomorrow at Lot C of the ballpark and then head over to Wendell Phillips High School (39th and Prairie), where we will help renovate parts of the high school and the elementary school located inside (that’s how big the school is).

White Sox staff and players are scheduled to stop by at lunchtime to thank the volunteers and maybe lend a little help with the work.

Among the scheduled projects is rehabbing the school’s baseball field, painting and working on a very special mural.  I’m excited to take part.  Every time I’ve worked on a Volunteer Corps project, be it Boys & Girls Clubs, Food Depository, etc., I’ve walked away with such a sense of pride in the White Sox, in a day well spent and how being a Sox fan connects so many different people.

It’s something not to be missed.  I hope I see you there tomorrow.

Miscellaneous

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Who is that guy?

Anyone who has watched a White Sox game over the past few years knows the name Alex Snelius.

Mr. Snelius kindly donates $100 to Chicago White Sox Charities for each home run in memory of his wife.

Last night, Hawk Harrelson presented a bat signed by Ozzie and all the players who hit HRs this year, including Mark Buehrle, to Alex.  Hawk signed the bat, too.   Alex also spent a few minutes with Jerry Reinsdorf, who thanked Alex and his family.

Alex has donated $201,000 to CWSC through the All Star break this year – $100 for every HR since 2001.  Oh, for the long ball …

From a Reader

I met a friend of CWS Charities and a blog reader, David F., at our recent Field of Greens Golf Outing.  David was there to support CWSC because his shoulder did not allow him to golf.  He explained to me how he became a Sox fan and then that he was scheduled to have his shoulder replaced yesterday.  I asked David to send me a story he had written about being a Sox fan, that I would post it here, and that we all would wish him a speedy recovery.

So, here is David’s story about growing up a Sox fan in Skokie:

HOW DOES A NORTH SIDER BECOME A SOX FAN?

In 2005, I had the opportunity to throw out the first pitch as the Sox beat the Twins on September 23rd (and finished 19-3 after that).  With pictures of that moment in my office, both my students and the next generation of family members have asked how a guy who has lived all of his life in Evanston/Skokie, been a life long Sox fan.  My step son has accused his mother of going over to the “dark side” and had no true understanding until he fell in love with a woman who also cheers for the “black and white” and not the boys in that funny shade of blue.

I found myself thinking about that over the past few years, and it leads to a story.  It is the story that also lets me tell about my grandfather, who, with my father was my hero, and it connects with golf, school, and the work that I am doing outside of the classroom.  So, as I approach fairly major surgery in a few weeks, and questions from my 9 year old and 5 year old nephews, I thought I would write some of it down.

Going to baseball games was a normal activity for me.  I was a big kid.  I was 12 pounds at birth, 35 pounds at a year and too tall and big framed to ever fit properly into a Cub Scout uniform.  My motor skill development as a kid lagged in some areas, and excelled in others.  I started playing golf at 4.  I never had the dedication that kids do today, but there were not the opportunities to do anything with it either.  When I graduated high school I was a 2 handicap, but the idea of turning pro made no sense.  The top guys on the tour (Nicklaus and Trevino) were making just $100,000 a year, the average guy less than $25,000.  I could go to college, come back and work in a family business, and play all the golf I wanted, and make more than the average tour pro without the need to hustle through qualifying rounds and exemptions. 

 My family was pretty well off.  We weren’t the richest people around, but we were solidly upper, middle class.  My parents belonged to a country club, as did their parents.  Golf was the sport in which I was best.  I loved the idea of competing with myself and with the golf course.  I loved to practice.  Stan Kertes, the guy who taught me, gave me Hogan’s book and I really thought you had to hit balls until your hands bled.  I learned to putt by the lights of a car around the putting green, with the car hikers and the caddies, playing for nickels. 

I never had the skills to be a good baseball player.  But it was ok, because you could be a fan.  I remember listening to the Commander, Bob Elson, under the covers with my first transistor radio.  My grandfather and I shared baseball.  It was wonderful.  My grandpa, Sam Futransky, had his first heart attack in the late 1930s, when he was 42 years old.  Back then, that made him an invalid.  He had to retire, and my dad came back from college to run the laundry business because his brother was in the Navy.  Sam lived to be 76 – he died in the mid 60s but he could never drive a car, work, or exert himself after the heart attacks.  He had several of them, and was a vital, intelligent man.  He was one of the first people who had a golf cart – the doctors did not want him to walk.  It was too strenuous.  Oh how medicine has changed.

Sadie, my grandmother, was Sam’s driver, among all of the other things she did.  In the summers, when I was about 5, I would go to the laundry plant with my dad in the mornings.  We would leave the house at 5:30 and stop for breakfast at a diner.  We spent a lot of time together.  Around 11, my grandmother would pick me up with Sam in the car and we would go a few blocks from the plant (which was at 28th and Wabash, and later at 39th and Michigan, and still later and 36th and Lowe) to Comiskey Park.  Sam and I would go to the ballgame and my dad would pick us up afterwards. 

Sam taught me how to keep a scorecard and to follow statistics.  It was a contest between us to read the sports section and follow the details of all of the games.  He would go with me to stand outside of the locker room to get autographs and was as excited as I was when I would get a foul ball.  He also taught me a lot about other people.  He would see someone down on their luck and instead of just giving them a buck or a few coins; he would take the guy into the ball game with us and treat him to a nice afternoon.  He did not care what color a person was, he would engage people in conversation and give them an afternoon sitting down and something to eat. 

Our laundry employees were integrated.  Our customers and our drivers were integrated.  We did business with everyone.  My dad and uncle and grandpa would say that everyone needed clean towels and uniforms and tablecloths and that the linen did not know what color the person was that was using it.  I did not realize how unusual this plant and operation was until I was older.  I thought it was normal.  The foremen were from all races and ethnic groups.  People were people and their color did not make them different. 

I think that was what drew me to baseball in some ways.  Color (by the late 1950s and 1960s did not matter as much as it did before then.  My heroes were black, white and brown.  Little Louis was the best and Minnie Minoso was amazing.  Al Lopez was a gentleman.  We looked at the game as 9 men on the field, all working together.  Those were the things I learned. 

I cannot tell you how many games I saw where we beat the evil Yankees, beat up on the KC Athletics and just saw simple, solid, well-executed fundamental baseball.  A treat was the nights we stayed down and my dad would go with us.  We never had season tickets.  You could always get what seemed to me as great seats.

I remember more about things that happened in the stands or with Sam and one of those memories was when we saw a man with two young kids, who came up to my grandfather and thanked him.  The man was black, he was taking these kids to a game, and he said that my grandfather had bought him lunch and a game ticket several years before.  He had pulled himself together that day and changed his life and the day we saw him was the first time he was taking his children to a game.  He never knew my grandfather’s name, but he said he had been looking for him at the gate to the ballpark for a few years to thank him.

I worked in the laundry business after college and then sold stocks and bonds, and then consulted in the financial services industry.  I always followed the Sox.  I would take friends from out of town to ballgames.  When I was completing my term as President of a not for profit group, I took my board of directors to a ball game to celebrate.  My children always spent time with me watching the Sox.  I left the sales and consulting business at the age of 46 to go back to school and become a teacher.  It was what I thought I wanted to do when I got out of college, but my dad had a heart attack (his first had been at 42) and I had to take over the business.  I got married and never had time to do what I really love doing, until I knew my kids would be taken care of, and I had a second wife, who encouraged me to do what I wanted to do.

I went to a program at DePaul and interned at Farren School, which was at 51st, and State.  I took a group of students who were in 6th grade at the time to a game.  We sat in the upper deck and they saw the buildings in the Robert Taylor homes where they lived.  They had never been to a ball game, even though it was 2 miles from their homes.  (Many of them had never seen the lake before we went to the beach, but that is a different story.)  One of the guys, Aaron, fell in love with the Sox.  He started working as an usher and saying good night to people at the gates as soon as he was old enough to get a work permit.  He was on the concourse for many years at the door to the Stadium Club and the last time we spoke, he was managing a group of younger ushers.  He worked several jobs, went to college, and made a success of his life.  He greeted me every time he saw me at the ballpark, and I could only think about the guy who came up to my grandfather.  There is some magic around baseball (a friend who is a judge once said from the bench that life imitates baseball) and there is a special magic for me about the Chicago White Sox. 

I was at the ballpark when Al Smith had a beer dumped on him in 1959.  I watched Dick Allen and Ron Kittle and Greg Walker and every team since the mid 50s.  Billy Pierce won a game the first time I came to see them play. 

The White Sox are about joy for me, as any team is for their fans.  As I get closer to 60 I find that almost all of my friends have reconnected with the team they grew up with.  I am lucky to live in the town where I was born.  I go to other cities and my friends have tickets to games so I have seen the Sox in almost every park in the AL and some in the NL.  I found my old hat from 1959 in the bottom of a box in my mother’s store room.  My nephew is wearing it now, after getting it cleaned. 

For me, baseball is the ultimate team game (although I did play rugby which runs a close second) and golf is the ultimate individual sport.  I think we are drawn to these sports because of the ethic they are based upon.  Both games are about giving your all.  One is as a teammate, one as you.  They are about being a gentleman, and doing the right thing.  They have clear rules, clear standards of conduct and behavior and clear expectations of what is right and good.  That is why people are so upset over steroids.  It violates the concept of truth and fairness.  Nothing expresses teamwork like a well-executed hit and run or squeeze play.  Nothing expresses honesty like a player calling a penalty on himself in golf.  We all know what is right or wrong, we admire those who try to put it at the forefront.  That is one of the reasons it is so easy to be a White Sox Fan.  Ozzie, Kenny, Jerry are all about honesty.  Sox players are about giving honest effort.  This is a ball club that works for all it gets, and it makes you proud to support them.

Go Sox!

Oakland Twosome

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tonight’s Lineup

Pods 8, Ramirez 7, AJ 2, PK 3, JD dh, Kotsay 9, Q 7, Getz 4, Nix 5. Torres pitching.

Congrats

The White Sox minor-league affiliates have combined to go 422-344 (.551) in 2009, the third-best winning percentage among all organizations … only SF (.603) and NYY (.554) rank higher.

Four affiliates have reached postseason play. Class AA Birmingham, which posted the highest winning percentage in the franchise’s history (began in 1885), opens Southern League postseason play Thursday at Jacksonville (best of five).

Class A Winston-Salem begins the Carolina League playoffs tmrw vs. Salem (best of five). Class A Kannapolis kicks off South Atlantic League postseason tmrw vs. Lakewood, and Advanced Rookie Great Falls travels to Missoula to begin its best-of-five series on Sept. 12.

No Soup For You

While in New York, Joe Cowley, our beat writer from the Chicago Sun-Times, tweeted that Yankee Stadium’s media dining (which is, indeed, very good) made our’s look like, “Mel’s Diner.”

So, I of course, in the spirit of stirring things up, mentioned this comparison to our long-time chef, Roy Rivas. And Roy, when in the wrong mood, can certainly channel the spirit of the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld.

According to Joe, he ate in the famous Bard’s Room without incident on Monday.  If I was Joe, I might be eating while looking over my shoulder.

And for the sake of fun: an open competition.  Tell me, in 25 words or less, why you should win a chance to eat dinner in the Bard’s Room (where the employees and media eat), and I’ll make sure you get to meet Roy and Joe (although he doesn’t know it yet!)

Team Photo

That favorite day of the season!  Here is Ron Vesely at work today:

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And here is the final product:

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Labor Day

Monday, September 7, 2009

Today’s Lineup

Pods 7, Ramirez 6, AJ 2, Dye 9, Kotsay 3, Quentin dh, Getz 4, Rios 8, Nix 5. Buehrle pitching.

Congrats

To Jenny Dobrowolski, our manager of park administration, who got engaged yesterday just before the game in the lobby of U.S. Cellular Field.  I just happened to be walking through when she said, “Yes.”

Mr. Bauman

Check out this recent column by Mike Bauman of mlb.com.

Bauman is always a good read.

Catching Back Up

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Today’s Lineup

pods dh, nix 5, pk 3, jd 9, quentin 7, ramirez 6, getz 4, rios 8, castro 2. Danks pitching.

Negligence

Sorry I’ve been negligent on posting for a few days.  I came back from the road trip and then things were busy in the office.  I have been able to tweet, though, so also recommend you follow me @InsideTheSox.

So to catch up on a few thoughts …

White Flag

As you’ve seen in the media recently, KW certainly did not feel that trading Contreras or Thome were signs — in any way — of giving up on the season. And more importantly, it seems the Ozzie, the coaches and the players feel the same way.

We have other options to take Jim’s place in the lineup the rest of this month (exhibit A, see Mark Kotsay yesterday), Jose was not going to start again for us (see Torres and Garcia and glad to see Contreras win for the Rockies last night).

Often during the season, every team reaches out to others to gauge interest on just about all of their players.  It does seem that more recently, those waiver requests and other communications are making their way in the media. We struggle to see who wins when that happens (other than the media) and do see who has to deal with the leaking (the teams, the players, etc.) And most of this stuff never leads to much actual action.

Anyway, we have a deep hole to dig out of (thanks to ourselves) and need to keep winning games, day by day.

Notes 

I finally had a chance to congratulate Ozzie personally on winning his 500th career game, now 501, on Friday.

Fun stuff …

John Danks is 3-0 with a 2.34 ERA in his last five starts …

The Sox have been tied or held the lead for 28 consecutive innings entering today (last time we trailed was ninth inning on 9/2 at Minnesota) …

Danks is 24-17 with a 3.55 ERA in 59 starts since OD 2008 …

Danks is one of only three pitchers in White Sox history to make at least 25 starts in his first three major-league seasons, joining Roy Patterson (1901-03) and Tommy Thomas (1926-28) …

The White Sox are 20-10 in their last 30 games at home …

Sox starting pitchers rank second in the AL (behind Seattle) with a 4.23 ERA …

Alexei ranks second in the AL vs. LHP at .373 behind only Derek Jeter …

With 72 quality starts, the Sox top the AL …

Obama

The President is sporting a new style of White Sox cap, according to this recent video from his vacation in Martha’s Vineyard …

Click here to see the video

 Thome

When you have a second, check out Chuck Garfien’s blog on Jim Thome (dated Sept 1) …

It’s worth a read. 

Sox Hockey Sweaters/Jerseys

Or whatever the right term is …

Many fans called/wrote me asking where/how they can buy the Sox hockey jerseys the Blackhawks guys were sporting Friday night. (see below). You can find them at the ballpark giftshops (100 and 500 levels) or you can order by calling 312-674-5183.

 

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Late Last Night

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Trades

By now everyone is aware, but following last night’s game, the White Sox traded Jim Thome to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Jose Conteras to the Rockies.  I have learned, over 19-plus years, that it is never a good thing to be busier postgame than you are in game. I have also learned, as painful as it is for us, for players and for staff to face, that winning teams don’t need to go through this in late August/early September.  We just haven’t gotten things done on the field.

That said, crazy things do happen.  We just need to start winning games and see what plays out.  While we have not done ourselves any favors, remember last year when we appeared dead in the water at a much later date than September 1?

I am going to miss Jim and Jose.  You will not find two classier gentlemen.  Jose always had a smile and a friendly hello.  Jim is the best. In all my years with the White Sox, he is the No. 1 guy when it came to willingness to do anything for anyone. The man has a huge heart, a great family, and I hope, will forever remain a friend of mine and of the White Sox. 

I like last night’s moves for a number of reasons: 1. this does give Jim a clearer shot at a ring, 2. it does clear some payroll off our books for September, 3. the pitcher from Colorado has decent reports.  If you don’t believe me, click here. 

More Firepower

Joining the team today in Minnesota are Fields, Getz, Torres, Wise and Flowers.

Good News

An MRI on Jake Peavy’s sore right elbow showed great news in that the soreness was caused by swelling from being hit on that elbow by a batted ball and not because of anything structural.

Special Offer

The White Sox have set up a special ticket offer for Twitter/Blog/Facebook followers on September 8-9 against the Oakland Athletics and September 22-23 against the Minnesota Twins, with discounts off select Lower Box, Lower Reserved, Bleachers, Upper Box and Upper Reserved seats available.

 
Lower Box, Lower Reserved, and Bleachers:
Tickets regularly priced at $38, $34, and $33 will be $28, $24, and $23

Upper Box and Upper Reserved:
Tickets regularly priced at $23 and $19 will be $18 and $14

To purchase these specially priced tickets, click here.

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