In my last post I talked about my experiences as a kid growing up as a Southsider and White Sox fan. I have many fond memories of the original Comiskey Park, games there with my dad, my cousin Joe, times with school trips, etc… When the new stadium was built and that inaugural game was played against the Tigers, I had mixed emotions. While a new ballpark, I missed the coziness of the old ball park. Truth be told, nothing go you in and out of the bathrooms faster than the old troughs, but everything was now shiny and new. I was in college now, and life was moving fast. Days and weeks just flew by…just like the White Sox seasons. We also had that other distraction until June of each year during this time period, as the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan had made Chicago a “Basketball Town”. Sure the Blackhawks had played in the Stanley cup final in 1992, but make no mistake…Chicago was full on MJ and the Bulls.
I was married in June of 1994, and by the following July, I became a Dad. Now becoming a Dad came with serious responsibilities from a sports fan standpoint. My Cub fan in-laws thought it would be funny to buy my son Cubs gear to wear…wrong answer. As he got older, he was showing little interest in sports…I guess I should have had more realistic expectations for a 3 year old, then he got into Nascar…yes Nascar…I had spent all of 5 minutes of my life watching let turns for hours…but I was now a full on Nascar fan…going to driver events to wait in line for signatures, practice day at the track, etc…However, somewhere out of that he started to follow baseball…
So It Begins…
Anthony was now into baseball, and he was into the White Sox. Amen. I remember taking him to some of his first games. Back then a game was quite an experience from all the gear we brought with us, 2 gloves, bag of “supplies”, blanket for when it was cold, and who knows what else…I always felt like I had my arms full of stuff, while holding onto my young son’s hand, and more often, holding him, and all the gear. I have so many memories, which I look back on fondly now, of getting into the park, getting food and drink, getting to our seats, getting settled, to only hear those dreaded words…”Dad I need to go to the bathroom.” Which meant, grab all the gear, head to the bathroom, then back again, all while juggling the gear, and keeping track of the boy.
The Tradition starts…
April 6, 2001 – Opening Day 2001. I don’t remember much about this game. However the importance of it become more important every year, as this was the year the tradition started with Anthony Fremarek V, my son, and I. As he was now in Kindergarten I told my wife I wanted to start a tradition of taking him to Opening Day every year. I always found it kinda cool when you would see fans who had attended so many Opening Day games in a row, so I thought…this is what we will do. So it began, and continues through to today. Last year during COVID we were there in spirit, as our cutouts sat in the stands, Section 145, Row 4, Seats 1&2.
We watched Opening Day together at home in 2020, our 20th in a row. Now we are die hard Sox fans, and we never leave a game early, regardless of the score. We have sat through all the elements on Opening Day. Some of my memories are so funny now as I think back on them. Early on in the run there was an Opening Day the was delayed because of rain, it was pouring, raining sideways through the concourse. I remember my son, as a little guy, standing in the center of a circle of me, and my brother-in-law Ken and his buddies, trying to keep him warm and dry. I remember sitting in snow, more rain, overcast skies, games where it seemed so cold I felt like we were dressed for a Bears game in December, and not a White Sox game in April. One of the best stories was the year I decided to splurge and found tickets in the Club section, not the 300 seats, but the all you can eat and drink behind home plate club section. So we get to the ballpark early that day (is there any other way to go), and we start to eat and drink, and it keeps raining, and raining, and finally, after sitting there eating and drinking for about 3-4 hours, they call the game. So what did we get to do, the same thing the next day. We certainly got our money’s worth for those seats.
Opening Day Guests
With 20 Opening Days under our belt we have had many people share in this tradition over the years, too man people to mention, but my Cousin Joe was a mainstay for many years. It was rare for him to miss a game with us. As we like to say, we are Brothers from a Different Mother. Our Mom’s are sisters, and Joe has always been the big brother I never had. Anthony and I have had games with groups as large as 8 people one year, most of the time it was four, he and I, Joe, plus one…that one was often a buddy of his, or another friend of mine. Becca, my daughter, has also been to a number of games. Sometimes it was hard to find that 3rd or 4th person, as not everyone appreciates the fact that in the Fremarek Household, Opening Day is a Holiday.
So earlier I wrote about the bathroom trips…I have very specific milestones that I have witnessed my son pass and experience over the years. Here they are in order.
- Going to the bathroom by himself. Amen. Enough said.
- Able to be left in the seats “watching the gear” when the inevtiable “Dad I’m hungry/thirsty” question came up
- Anthony, “Dad I’m hungry/thirsty”… Me, “Here some money, go buy yourself why you want”.
- Anthony, “Dad I’m hungry/thirsty”…Me, “Here is some money, and bring me back something”. As he’s now old enough to juggle multiple food items and drinks.
- Anthony, “Dad I’m going to get something, do you want something”. Code for him actually using some of his own money, which I never let him do.
- Me…”Anthony, I’m thirsty, can you go grab us some drinks”.
- Now for my favorite…Me. “Anthony, I’d love a beer, how ’bout you go grab us a few”.
- The last milestones are still in play, that will be when he’s buying the beers, and paying for tickets…it’s a process.
To be continued.
Feel free to leave your comments or memories in the comments section of the blog piece below. I’d love to hear your White Sox fan journey stories.