Top 10 things to know about the Sox

What to know about the Sox

CHICAGO -- For a 105-year-old operation, the Chicago White Sox have a remarkably low profile. But this is not their fault.

Here they are in the 2005 American League Championship Series. If you haven't been following the White Sox as closely as possible, if your roots are well outside Chicago, here are 10 things you absolutely have to know about this franchise and its fans.

1.  This is the Second Team in the Second City and life ain't always easy.

The White Sox have been overshadowed by the Cubs in almost every way. It's not fair, it's not right, but there it is. White Sox fans feel this injustice acutely, as well they might. They feel underappreciated and under-publicized. And they're right. They point out at every opportunity that the Chicago National League team is owned by a newspaper conglomerate. If you ask White Sox fans to define themselves they will say "blue collar." If you ask them to define Cubs fans, they will say: "Yuppies."

White Sox fans have defined Chicago in a way that Cubs fans have not.

Historically, the White Sox have been the team of the Democratic political machine. This is huge, because in Chicago there is no Republican machine. Perhaps the most prominent of Chicago's Democratic mayors, Richard J. Daley, was a big Sox fan. His Bridgeport neighborhood is near what was Comiskey Park and what is now U.S. Cellular Field. Today, mayor and political heir Richard M. Daley keeps the tradition going. When the Sox last won a pennant, the city set off the air raid sirens. True, some people thought this meant that the Soviets were attacking. But the Cubs didn't get sirens.

2.  The Black Sox.

Might as well get this out of the way early. Members of the 1919 White Sox team took money from gamblers and threw the 1919 World Series. Shameful, scandalous, disgusting. What good came out of this? Baseball cracked down on gambling and never stopped. And, this sorry episode did result in the best baseball movie ever made, because of its honest depiction of a difficult reality, John Sayles' "Eight Men Out." Free Buck Weaver.

3.  The Go-Go Sox.

OK. The Sox haven't won the World Series since 1917 and haven't been in the Series since 1959. But it's not like they've been persistently bad. The 1950s, for instance, saw the era of exciting, highly competitive teams built around speed, defense and pitching. (This season, they remembered their roots and look what happened.) Wonderful players such as Luis Aparicio, Minnie Minoso, Nellie Fox, etc., contributed to the excitement and the success.

4.  Bill Veeck owned this club, more than once.

Veeck was the most colorful, the most innovative owner that baseball has ever known. He embodied the idea of the Sox as the workingman's ballclub. Many of the other club owners couldn't stand him, which was another reason regular people liked him so much. And he put a pennant-winning team on the field in 1959. Many of his promotional ideas, then thought of as radical, have now become accepted practice. The exploding scoreboard didn't exactly ruin the game, did it?

5.  Disco Demolition Night.

OK, this was one of Veeck's promotions that won't be often repeated. On the night of July 12, 1979, in conjunction with a local radio station, the Sox arranged to have a promotion on which fans brought in their disco records to Comiskey Park to be demolished. It was a commercial success, but there were logistical problems. What ensued was basically a riot, and portions of the field were so badly damaged that the Sox were forced to forfeit a game to the Detroit Tigers. Still, it wasn't a bad idea.

6.  Eddie Collins, Ed Walsh, Ted Lyons, Ray Schalk, Red Faber, Luke Appling, Harry Hooper, Early Wynn, Luis Aparicio, Hoyt Wilhelm, Nellie Fox, George Davis, Carlton Fisk.

All members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, all spent substantial portions of their careers with the White Sox. This underscores the notion that, if the White Sox didn't win it all very often, they were not playing with nobodies. Shoeless Joe Jackson might have been the greatest of them all, but he can't be on the list for reasons previously discussed. Some day, though, The Big Hurt, Frank Thomas, could be.

7.  The ballpark gets a bad rap.

New Comiskey Park, now "The Cell," opened in 1991. This was the first of a new era of ballparks, and admittedly this one didn't have all the new-as-old charms of the nifty new ballparks to come. And the upper deck seemed to be pitched at a steepness that invited only the likes of Sir Edmund Hillary to sit near the top. But the upper deck has been reconfigured. The fact is, this place has all the creature comforts that the contemporary fan demands. The fundamental truth is that there is nothing really wrong with this ballpark. It doesn't ooze charm, but White Sox fans weren't asking for that, anyway.

8.  The manager is not a nut ball. In fact, on the mounting evidence, he's a pretty shrewd dude.

There is no question that Ozzie Guillen seems to say whatever comes to mind. There is no question that he has offended some people along the way. But he is also the leading candidate for AL Manager of the Year. Guillen doesn't particularly care what a lot of people think about him, as long as the 25 guys in the clubhouse are on board with him. And they are. He managed a beautiful series against Boston. Keeping Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez on the roster turned out to be all right, didn't it?

9.  This club shouldn't have been the underdogs against Boston in the first place.

What traditionally wins in the postseason? Pitching and defense. The South Siders were superior to the Red Sox in both of these categories. Sweep or not, the White Sox were supposed to win the Division Series. They are not here on a pass or a fluke.

10.  The White Sox fans have waited longer than Boston fans between World Series victories and yet, you just don't hear that much about them, in regard to long-suffering, etc. What's up with that?

See No. 1. You can't even get your fair share of suffering done in public what with all the Cubs fans turning their whole deal into a way of life. And all the poets and the playwrights were with the Red Sox. White Sox fans get virtually no public credit for their loyalty and perseverance. But they know who they are and that is enough. That, and considerable patience.

Mike Bauman is a national columnist for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.