I recently had to travel to Chicago for some work related meetings. I got some emails this morning from readers who read my post that today’s blog post was from Chicago and they thought Oprah had me on her show. Nope, not the case. I was there for some work related meetings. My original plan was to arrive Sunday evening and return home Tuesday late afternoon. You know how ticket prices can be and it turned out to be a lot cheaper to fly in Sunday morning. Since I had all day to spend there I decided to find something to do. As you might be able to tell from some of my posts I am a bit of a baseball fan and love seeing a game at the ball park. I checked to see if either the Cubs or the White Sox where in town and sure enough the White Sox were playing their last game of the season.
I got into O’Hare, took the subway downtown, dropped my luggage off at the hotel and headed over to U.S. Cellular Field. I got there and followed the crowd over to the stadium. A scalper approached me with some tickets for $40. I told him that I only wanted to spend like $10 on tickets and he explained that the tickets he was selling were lower level good seats between third base and left field and he couldn’t sell them for that. In the end he sold me the ticket for $15. I spent another $5 on a White Sox cap (I buy a hat at every stadium I visit, I have 10 different ones now) and headed inside.
The ball park is beautiful. It was built in 1991 to replace the legendary Comiskey Park which dated back to 1910. Comiskey was the oldest baseball park in use up until 1991; a title now owned by the Red Sox’s Fenway Park which I have also visited.
I grabbed a bratwurst and a beer and went to find my seat. Although decent, I was more impressed with the seat location and the stadium than the brat. As I sat down the guy next to me asked if I had bought my ticket from a scalper outside. I told him I had and we had fun comparing notes from our negotiating experience. I think Dan paid $20 or $25, I can’t remember. Two other guys showed up later who had paid $40 for the last two remaining tickets the guy was selling.
Dan was very sociable at the park. He’s the kind of guy that by the end of the game knows the people in front of him, in back of him and on both sides…and maybe even a vendor or an usher. He shared a lot of information with me about the White Sox and the stadium. It was nice to have my own personal guide!
I offered Dan my $10 and he accepted it. This was the farthest west in the US that I have given away my $10 so far. Dan works on the trading floor at the Chicago Exchange. He is a big White Sox fan and comes to about 25-30 games a year. He says he hasn’t been to a Cubs game since the Reagan administration. “This here is for real baseball fans,” he says gazing around the stadium, “and the 2005 season was amazing!” I noticed he was wearing a 2005 White Sox World Champion hat. He missed most of the series though due to a trip down to the Caribbean island of Saba. He also recalls the tie-breaker game in 2008 (also called the “Black Out” game on September 30th between the White Sox and the Minnesota Twins.) “I was sitting high up over there behind home plate,” he says cocking his neck around and pointing to the top of the upper deck. “This place went crazy when Jim Thome hit a homer in the 9th inning to win the game!” It was Thome’s 541st home run and if you want to get an idea of how crazy things were at the ball park that evening, check out this link. You can see how crowded it was and they show the home run and crowd reaction. Simply beautiful.
I went to grab another beer and offered to get Dan one. He told me that he didn’t drink. “I stopped drinking on December 24, 1998 – It’ll be 12 years this December.” I congratulated him on his sobriety and told him a little bit about some of the other people I had met through my year-long journey who are now sober (Bob and Michelle). Dan continues to go to AA meetings and said that he was going to donate his $10 to his meeting group so that they can buy coffee, etc. for the meetings.
I asked him about family. He is single now although he does have children he doesn’t have a relationship with them. “That’s all part of why I went to AA,” he said. Although he didn’t think there was a chance to rebuild that relationship I hope that some day he is able to be involved in their lives in some capacity.
After the game Dan and I went down near the dugout to see if any players were coming out. I took some more photos down there and then we decided to leave. We walked back all the way to the subway together. We were both going the same direction, however I was getting off before him. He was a really nice guy and I hope to stay in touch with him. We traded emails and said our goodbyes. He told me to go to Al’s Beef on Taylor Street for the best sandwich in town or if I wanted pizza to check out Malnati’s. I unfortunately didn’t make it to either one. Next time.