Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team Being the Chicago White Sox #1 fan is more than a hobby- it’s hard work requiring discipline, dedication and adherence to a routine. “This guy is serious about his Sox,” yelled a random White Sox fan in the U.S. Cellular Field parking lot when Soxman and I approached the gate on the home opener holiday. He was obviously referring to Soxman, or as I call him “the Southside Dark Knight.” You may have seen our Caped Crusader on television or read his work in the Red Eye.
Because the wintry weather delayed White Sox opening day, the seat of Batboy (Soxman’s fellow season ticket holder and masked sidekick) opened up. Like Batman sending critical evidence to Commissioner Gordon, Soxman called upon me to join him for 2009 opening day. This event gave me a chance to witness what our superfan superhero experiences each game.
I met him where the “Soxmobile” is parked, observed his pre-game rituals before he got into costume and walked with him along the covert route he takes to the stadium (this route keep’s the Soxmobile location clandestine) This was unprecedented “Sox-Access.”
“For five years, my routine as remained unchanged. Pregame meal at a local Bridgeport establishment, listening to Sox jams to get into the character “zone,” and NEVER leave my seats if we are losing or the game is tied. I didn’t waver for a second today,” Soxman said.
Countless fans seek getting their picture taken with him everywhere he goes in the park and our Sox superhero never turns anyone away.
“There are no greater fans in the City of Chicago, the United States, or even the world! I’ve said it 1000 times before. Brad Pitt is just another actor if the fans don’t buy tickets to his movies. The fans made Soxman and I’ll never forget that. It’s why it took us 1.5 hours to get to the Sox Mobile after the game,” Soxman said.
The Sox trailed for nearly the entire game, but beat the Royals 4-2 in highly dramatic fashion. Legend and former Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver once said the key to winning baseball is “pitching, defense, and the three-run homer,” the exact formula the Sox implemented on opening day. My story with this superfan included a happy ending because the Southsiders: played errorless ball in the field, limited the Royals to 2 runs, and Jim Thome’s 3-run blast in the 8th inning. The storybook finish created a joyous atmosphere on our way out of the park.
“White Sox opening day is like a family reunion. There are so many fans that I have come to love with distinct personalities. Like your wacky uncle, girl-chasing younger brother, or grandma who likes to give hugs,” Soxman aptly described.