The White Sox Are Still Punishing Their Fans Because Of A Few Drunk Morons 20 Years Ago
The Chicago White Sox had a bit of a fan problem 20 years ago and their current fans are still feeling the negative effects.
The first big incident happened on September 19, 2002 when a trash father and son team named William Ligue Jr. and William III jumped onto the field at, what was then called, (New) Comiskey Park to beat up the Kansas City Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa.
NOTE: You might not be able to watch that because it is labeled as violent. Here's a screen shot.
Gamboa would suffer permanent hearing damage from the incident.
Flash Forward 7 Months:
Tom Gamboa and the Royals would return to Chicago for the first time in April at the beginning of next season. Gamboa (who is widely regarded as being one of the nicest men to ever be associated with the game) tried to play the previous season's incident down, and even went as for to say "Lightning doesn't strike twice."
Well. It did.
In a game that had already been stopped three (3!!) times for fans running on the field, it was interrupted again. Carlos Lee had flied out to end the eighth inning. The players were beginning to switch sides when a fan jumped onto the field and attacked first base umpire Laz Diaz.
This would end much differently than the first attack. Diaz, a former Marine Corps Reserve, had no problem dispatching the drunk lunatic.
NYTimes - "I'm physically O.K.," Diaz said after the Royals won, 8-5. "I think you should talk to the other guy and see how he's feeling."
"When I looked over, there was one of the fans from the stands, and I just got him off me.
The White Sox, and possibly more importantly owner Jerry Reinsdorf, had been embarrassed for a second time in less than a year on the national level. The rough image that the surrounding area had just added to the narrative that the stadium was out of control.
NOTE: Back then it wasn't great. Not as bad as it was portrayed, but you didn't want to wander too far from the park after the game. It's MUCH different now. Plenty of stuff to do after the game with no concern of personal safety. Well, not none but you get it.
Something had to be done at least publically to show the team was addressing the issue. The White Sox solution? Only fans with tickets in the lower section of the park would have access to the lower bowl. Those with 500 level tickets were restricted to the 500 level.
This was seen as mildly effective at best and moderately classist at worst. The park was designed to be enjoyed by walking around in it. The loop around the lower concourse is one of the more enjoyable walks in baseball and anyone stuck in the 500 section were shut out.
The rule continues today as I found out last year when we went to a game and sat in the upper deck. I was very disappointed that I would not be able to get any of the park's famous elotes, which is only served on the main concourse.
The White Sox are the only team, as far I can find, that has a policy like this. At all the other parks, one ticket gets you access to the entire park. Not on the South Side. It's especially stupid today because every ballpark in America has nets running from home plate to the foul pole to protect fans from foul balls.
The other hassle with the ticket caste system is that everyone in the lower level needs to essentially enter the park twice. Once at the main gate and once again at the concourse. It can lead to long lines and headaches.
The White Sox should correct this and join the rest of the league in letting everyone enjoy the ballpark, not just those that can afford the VIP section.
The White Sox should also fire the manager that intentionally walked a guy on a 1-2 count only to give up a HR to the player after him.
Seriously, one or the other guys. Do something for your fans.
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