Don't stop believin'

Growing up in The Region, my Dad had a sub-30-minute stretch goal from our driveway to Comiskey Park. Depending on the Dan Ryan traffic and his risk-taking appetite, this was sometimes achievable with us having lived in Munster (not the case for some clodhopper down in Griffith, Ind.). My love for the White Sox was cemented in the '70s, even though the Sox failed to make the playoffs throughout my childhood fandom.

To me, the characters associated with the Sox (Bill Veeck, Harry Carey, Dick Allen) seemed much more colorful than the vanilla Jack Brickhouse, Rick Reuschel and Rick Monday playing day baseball on the north side.

One memorable game outing was during the summer following seventh grade, when I joined a busload of fellow St. Thomas More altar boys to attend a double header against the Tigers. Unbeknownst to the priests that were chaperoning us, that night's promotion was 98¢ entry if you brought a disco record. Radio personality, Steve Dahl, came out in full army regalia between games and blew up the records in center field. Disenchanted youth stormed the field (not us altar boys), and after 40 minutes of fires and mayhem, game two was forfeited.

My loyalty eventually paid off with the World Series win in 2005, and my son was a newborn when I attended 2008's "blackout game" crowning the Sox as AL Central Champs (thanks, Jim Thome, for that towering center field bomb). By the time my boy was indoctrinated as a diehard Sox fan, his playoff outlook was initially bleak. However, with a few key rebuilding trades back in 2016-17 (surely Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease sting you, Cub fans), the future is blindingly bright.

My son was bummed there was no fan attendance during last year's pandemic season, so in August we set up a porch outdoor projector to recreate the ballpark experience. That night, Lucas Giolito was lights out. In the sixth inning, I was scolded for mentioning he hadn't given up a hit. My son adheres to the strict unwritten baseball rule of never acknowledging a no-no in progress. Apologies to the neighbors for the loud cheering, but I'm betting sometime in the far future, my son's recollection will be he was at that no-hitter game.

This April, my son came off the ice after practice expecting his update. "Up 8-0 in the sixth," I told him, careful this time to NOT acknowledge the zero under Cleveland's H column. We zipped home and caught the rest of Carlos Rodon's almost perfect no-hit performance. These are the memories that forge an allegiance.

Some 45 years later, I've continued my Dad's same sub-half hour goal from driveway to ballpark (sometimes achievable). The differences? Traffic is now dependent on the Stevenson, we're wearing seatbelts and no one is smoking in the car with the windows rolled up. You can put this on the board - the next Sox World Series crown will occur much earlier in my son's fandom than it did in mine, and we'll be cheering them on together.

- Bret Conway of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. Readers can email him at [email protected].