White Sox fans unite to celebrate
More than 3,000 pack into United Center watch history
CHICAGO -- The two greatest Chicago baseball moments in Bob Schu's life aren't hard to narrow down, as both came courtesy of Chicago White Sox during the World Series.
Attending Game 2 of the 1959 World Series was the top on Schu's list, and the 61-year-old lifelong Sox fan had been hoping to add another such game to his memories in 2005.
When his hope of landing World Series tickets didn't pan out, Schu wanted to find some way to make sure that his family would have some lasting memories of Chicago's visit to this year's Fall Classic. That opportunity presented itself by joining other Sox fans at the United Center to watch Chicago possibly clinch its first World Series title since 1917.
With the loud pregame introductions of the players, the videos playing on the Jumbotron that open up every home game at U.S. Cellular Field and the thousands of other fans standing and cheering for the Sox, Wednesday night's atmosphere at the United Center almost felt like a home White Sox game.
"I was at the game in '59 and probably was a little happier to be at the game, but I'll settle for this," Schu said while sitting in his 200 level seat. "I'm surrounded by great friends, watching great baseball and getting to feel like a part of the action."
For those fans not lucky enough to go down to Houston and witness Chicago's historic moment in person, being at the United Center seemed to be the next best thing.
Sox fever was obvious at the arena before you even stepped inside. A large White Sox jersey hung on the Michael Jordan statue just outside the entrance. Once inside, signs proclaiming a Sox sweep were speckled throughout the crowd along with a sea of black and white Sox apparel. Rounds of applause filled the air as each Houston batter recorded an out and the entire crowd stood on its feet to cheer on every 0-2 count.
"This is the closest atmosphere you're going to get to actually being there in Houston," said Colin Malgieri, 21, of Chicago. "The noise, the enthusiasm, you really feel a part of it here."
Malgieri and his roommate, Robert Kitson, 22, had a feeling that Game 4 might be the game that the Sox would clinch the title. Knowing that a celebration was near, the two joined the nearly 3,000 fans that packed into the arena to witness a moment that will long live large in the memories of all Chicago fans.
"I never would have guessed that we would sweep," Kitson said. "We're used to every year being second place in this town. Now to be first not only in Chicago but in the world, it's an unbelievable feeling."
The night was about more than just celebrating the Sox victory too. There was a $15 dollar entry fee for the event, but the money had a purpose. All the proceeds from the event will be divided up between the Chicago White Sox, Bulls and Blackhawks charities.
"I heard all the money was going to charity, so I thought it was a great idea to come down here," said Chris Bleck, 20.
Bleck and four of his friends had gathered together to watch every game of the series, but for the possible clinching game they wanted to make sure that they were in an atmosphere that would leave a long lasting memory.
"When they clinched, we all wanted to be around other fans," Bleck said. "Everyone here is pumped and ready to celebrate."
One family that was sure to take in every moment of the victory was the Schu family. Bob, along with his daughter Cyndi, 28, and son Jon, 19, could not wipe the smile off his face as he watched each and every pitch of the game.
Winning a World Series championship was good news enough for Schu, but with one title under the Sox belt, Schu was already looking ahead to what could be in the future. The word dynasty has become the new catchphrase around Chicago, but Schu had even bigger plans as to what would make a World Series win by the Sox even sweeter next season.
"In 1906, the Cubs and Sox played it out in the World Series," Schu said. "I hope in 2006 they can do that again. I'll pray for that now."
Kelly Thesier is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.