I know, that’s not the name anymore. But I like it better.
White Sox games were my least favorite to pick up from. Not because they were White Sox games, but because I didn’t have the same freedoms I got at the other two ballparks.
First of all, when I arrived at the loading dock, and a certain someone was working security, I knew immediately this wasn’t going to be one of the more enjoyable pickups. I won’t mention her name, I don’t remember it anyway, but when she was on duty, I was barely allowed to have my eyes open and alert, much less roam the ballpark. With her there, I wasn’t allowed out of the loading dock area until the game was over. On days when I had the chance to go inside before the end of the game, I had no access to the seating area. The only place I could go to watch the game was in the sports bar behind right field. And there isn’t much of a view from in there.
Second, I had to park my pickup truck right next to the fireworks stand. So if a Sox player hit a homerun, my truck would be covered with debris from the pyrotechnic display. Not as cool as it sounds, but also not a huge deal. I just like to complain.
Now, the good parts.
Joe McNamara was, and I believe still is, the umpire room attendant. Joe took over for his father. I never met Joe’s dad, but everyone at the ballpark spoke very highly of him. I’ll speak highly of Joe Jr. He was always friendly, appreciative of my work, and a pleasure to be around. He also fed me. Well, he fed the umpires. And it was always good stuff too. Granted, I was third in line after the umpires and on-field security guys had their fill, but there were always leftovers. Some of it wasn’t meant to be eaten on the road, so I would turn it down. But when Joe had the leftover chicken burritos, I was all in. Those things were awesome, and I’m not a big burrito fan. Duane Lewis usually had really good looking food up at Miller Park, but I would watch sadly as he dumped the leftovers in the garbage. So sad. He must not have wanted me eating on the clock.
Even though the Comiskey guards wouldn’t generally let me in until the game was over, I would be right behind home plate in the tunnel. Home clubhouse on my left, visitors’ to the right. I didn’t get to take my truck back there, had to walk back and forth with a dollie, but no big deal. I used to stand and wait to hi-five whoever came by. I honestly don’t remember if I ever interacted with Ozzie; both he, and Jerry Manuel, when he was manager, would walk past me twice on the way to and from the interview room.
I made the mistake of hi-fiving Frank Thomas once. Once. It hurt. All he did was kinda back hand my hand as he talked to a reporter. He might as well have punched me. It didn’t just sting my hand; it nearly pulled my shoulder out of the socket. One. Large. Strong. Dude. I fist-bumped Andres Galarraga after a game against the Giants. He seemed a little surprised that to see my hand up, but I had admired his heart after his comeback from cancer, and I would have hugged him if I wasn’t afraid of getting beat up.
The 2003 All-Star Game was held at Comiskey, and I was set up to be there to pickup 6 trunks at the end of the game! I couldn’t wait. I delivered one trunk the night before, just before the start of the home run derby, and had all the logistics worked out with Joe. But there was a change in plans on game day, and I was told not to pick up that night. Jimmy Farrell, whom I’ll talk about in the Wrigley Field segment, had given me about a dozen brand new Major League baseballs to get autographed after the game. I was bummed.
The loading dock connected to the players’ parking lot, so when I left the stadium, I drove out the same way the players did. One night, one of the fans waiting on the sidewalk for autographs tried to hand me a ball to sign. I almost did it, but realized he looked somewhat mentally challenged, and I didn’t have the heart to do that to the guy. Would have been disturbingly fun to think about some guy in Chicago with a baseball in his display case, with Daniel Schell’s signature on it.