Dad Hits Home Run
by John Norberg, humor columnist s

Chicago White Sox World Series tickets went on sale last Tuesday. They sold out in 18 minutes. This is what happens when a team hasn't been to the World Series since Eisenhower was President.

I was born and grew up in the Chicago area. This brings back memories. Wonderful memories.

I was 11 years old in the summer of 1959. My friends and I played baseball all day, every day. When we weren't playing baseball we were talking baseball. And the talk of baseball in Chicago that summer was the "Go-Go White Sox" -- Nellie Fox, Luis Aparicio, Ted Kluszewski , Early Wynn.

When the Sox won the American League pennant that year and headed for the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, it was the biggest thing that had ever happened to 11 year old boys.

It got even bigger when my dad came home from work one night with two tickets to the opening game. He could have taken anybody. He chose me.

In 1959 they played baseball in the daytime. Going to the game meant missing school. I worried about this. My dad was on the school board. My mother was president of the PTA. I knew school was more important than baseball -- at least to the teachers. Could I ditch school for a game?

When the big day arrived my dad came to school to pick me up. As we walked down the long hall I could see the principal standing by the door. I imagined it unfolding: "Stop," he would say. "This boy can't be taken from his studies to watch baseball!"

We reached the door. The principal stepped in front of us. He looked my dad square in the eye.

"Do you have an extra ticket for me?" he asked.

It was a beautiful October day. I wore my Sox cap. My dad wore slacks and a sports shirt. It was fun to see him on a weekday in something other than a business suit.

We arrived early. We stayed late. I remember the red, white and blue bunting, the organ music, the smell of hotdogs. My dad helping me follow the game on my scorecard. Baseballs cracked against wooden bats. Ted Kluszewski hit two home runs. The White Sox won 11-0. We jumped and cheered.

The next spring our parents took us to Sarasota, Florida on vacation. The Sox had spring training there and my dad took me to a game. I was learning over the dugout looking for autographs when Tony Cuccinello , the Sox third base coach, shouted at me.

"Hey kid!" he yelled. I jumped back.

"Wanna be batboy?"

When I told him I was from Chicago and had been to the World Series, I got to be batboy for the week.

My dad loved sports. He loved his wife and kids even more and proved it every day.

Over the years, I went to lots of games with my dad. The end wasn't easy for him. He had a stroke. He never fully recovered. The last game we saw together was at Wrigley Field. I took him in his wheel chair.  

We lost our dad in 1994.

It's been 46 years since the Sox were in World Series. This brings back many memories. Wonderful memories. And I understand something now that I didn't' know then.

The memories aren't about baseball.

The memories are about my dad.

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