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Southside Frankie cheers neighborhood team

Posted: 02 Jan 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:world series? Southside Frankie? Chicago? Frank Burge? EE Times?

After the World Series, my sports-minded friends now call me Southside Frankie. Barbara and I were born, raised and married on Chicago's Southside, and married in the same church as her parents and my grandparents. We left Chicago after that in 1956. Yet, we still have fond memories of growing up in the old neighborhood. For her, it was swimming at McKinley Park and playing baseball and volleyball, and ice skating when the lagoon froze over. For me, it was swimming at Gage Park, ice skating at Marquette Park and playing every imaginable sport at Morrill playground.

When I was 11, my buddies and I would take the streetcar to Comiskey Park to watch the White Sox. We'd get there early to talk to the Sox players and visiting teams, and get autographs. Since I played shortstop on our neighborhood pickup softball team, my favorite Sox player was shortstop Luke Appling. Another was Cleveland shortstop Lou Boudreau. His teammate Bob Feller was a really friendly guy. Then there was Pete Gray, a one-armed outfielder for the St. Louis Browns.

The world was still at war and many major league players had been called into the service. Ted Williams was a fighter pilot. Williams, who may have been the best hitter of all time, was called back for the Korean War. Wars have a way of messing up people's livesor taking them.

Thinking back, I couldn't help but wonder how many 11-year-olds take the streetcar to a ballgame today. But those were simpler times. You could have a day at the ballpark for $1.50, including carfare, ticket and lots of eats.

I am not much of a baseball fan anymore and had not been to a game in well over 50 years. But when the White Sox made it to the World Series, I was glued to the TV and cheered like an 11-year-old. Barbara made hot dogs. We had soda and chips, and screamed our elbows off. George and Barbara Bush were there in Houston, cheering the home team. Maybe next year. But this year belonged to those wonderful folks from the neighborhoods on the Southside.

- Frank Burge
EE Times

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