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Rally Monday rocks downtown Chicago

Rally Monday rocks downtown Chicago

CHICAGO -- Decked out in his black "He Gone!" T-shirt and trademark black Sox hat, Jim Mikolaitis Jr. stood in the back of a packed rally for the White Sox on Monday, waving his flag and trying to get a quick view of the stage.

A lifelong Sox fan, Mikolaitis, 42, celebrated when the Sox won the American League Central title. But also knowing all too well that Chicago hasn't won a postseason series since 1917, he wasn't about to pass up a chance to show his support and maybe even bring some of his own luck to the rally.

"I haven't been to one of these yet and since I had a day off on Monday, I thought I might help change our luck in the postseason," Mikolaitis said with a smile.

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Mikolaitis wasn't alone in his decision as thousands of other Sox fans, many on their lunch break, joined him at historic Block 37 in downtown Chicago to help the White Sox celebrate Rally Monday.

It is the second year that Major League Baseball has joined with the eight playoff teams to host rallies in each city to generate excitement for the start of the postseason.

Excitement wasn't too hard to create in Chicago, with fans eager to celebrate their team's first playoff berth since the 2000 season.

Fred Andes smiled as he watched the highlight video of the 2005 regular season play on a big screen above the rally stage. Dressed up in his suit from work but proudly wearing his Sox hat, Andes, 48, has seen the ups and downs of the Sox throughout the years and wanted to make sure he was a part of the celebration.

"My brother was born the day the Sox clinched the pennant in '59," Andes said. "These dates in Sox history are all important to us as my dad raised us to be Sox fans from Day 1."

There may be no bigger Sox fan in the city of Chicago than Mayor Richard M. Daley, who was on hand at the rally wearing his own Sox jersey with his name emblazoned on the back. The Sox might fight with that other Chicago team for the city's loyalities, but Daley reached out to all Chicagoans to celebrate its playoff-bound team.

"Chicago believes in all of its teams but there's only one team to cheer for right now -- and that's the Chicago White Sox," Daly said to a roar of approval.

While none of the current White Sox were able to make it to the rally due to an early team workout, former players Billy Pierce, Ron Kittle and Ed Farmer, along with Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, were there to share their own thoughts on the special season. All seemed excited to celebrate a division title, but made sure to note that the focus is set on winning more titles, including a World Series Championship.

"We're not done yet," said Farmer, now a radio broadcaster for the team. "I, along with Jerry, think that we are the team to beat, barring injuries."

Farmer's sentiments were greeted with a thunderous ovation from the crowd. Though the team hasn't won much in the postseason lately, there was a general feeling that this could change against the defending champion Boston Red Sox.

"Good pitching stops good hitting," Mikolaitis said. "I don't know how many times I've heard that. And good pitching is definitely what we've got."

Kelly Thesier is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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