HALFWAY TO ST. PATRICK’S DAY (AGAIN)
By the time you read this, the Chicago White Sox will have again held their “Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day” promotion, with special activities at the Cell, and with the home team again wearing home uniforms with green and white the letter, logo and number colors, with green pinstripes to boot. Most likely, these will be released afterwards, with a few going to MLB.com auctions, and the rest put on the racks for this coming winter’s SoxFest.
The White Sox have had an on-again, off-again relationship with serious collectors and dealers, which, in recent years, have been largely on. However, it was not always so in the past.
When seats from the original Comiskey Park were offered to the public, prices were unprecedented for demolished stadium seats. One White Sox official admitted that the higher prices were intended to scare off dealers.
A few years later, the team’s disdain for serious collectors and dealers reared its head again, making yours truly the object of their scorn. The White Sox Gift Shop in suburban Oak Brook had begun selling the 1991 jerseys, then a new style. Several collectors from around the country asked me to get them jerseys. The team had them at $200 each, and I tacked on an extra $25 for my time and effort. I was able to buy several before being told the same thing by two area collectors who didn’t know each other. Apparently, the prices of game-used jerseys had been inflated to $500-$600 apiece. Worse yet, both said that store employees mentioned me, BY NAME, as the cause for the jacked-up prices. It seems that a LOA I had written at the time on a Lance Johnson home jersey for a dealer, which the dealer offered in SCD ads, for that range, caused them to think I was selling their jerseys at an obscene profit.
I whisked off a letter of complaint to the White Sox expressing my outrage at being singled out for being the cause of this action, and what I had actually done with the jerseys I HAD bought. The team responded, with a denial (naturally) that anyone at the store had mentioned me by name (total garbage), then going on with a self-righteous rant about wanting fans, not dealers, to get them (understandable, but still didn’t warrant slandering me), and then a final concession to instruct store employees to no longer explain the reasons for the price increase (no need to do this unless they were already pointing fingers and laying blame).
The response came from a White Sox official whose name appears on many star jersey LOAs from the team. This same official was railed by the local media circa 1995, after responding to a fan who sent a complaint about a team policy by telling him something to the effect of “if you don’t like it, don’t come…we don’t need you”.
Fortunately, the offending individual has been gone now for several years, and the team, unlike in the 1990s with it’s “in your face” attitude, has done a major turnaround and is now better versed in the practice of being fan-friendly than the North Side team in town.
Give credit to eBay seller dbellmac. Offering a tagged retail 1990 Gregg Jefferies Mets jersey on eBay, he correctly and properly described it, making no effort to suggest it a game-used or team-issued. Too bad more sellers of Score Board and similar tagged retail jerseys avoid making the distinction.
DETROIT AREA WOMAN MAKES A CATCH
You don’t have to be a Waveland Avenue Ballhawk nor a McCovey Cove kayaker to catch a piece of history. Just ask Nikki Gianino of Monroe, Michigan. The female Tigers fan ended up grabbing (without a scrum) Gary Sheffield’s 496th career home run. It’s significance, however, was far greater to Major League Baseball than to Sheffield, as it was considered to be the 250,000th home run in MLB history. Gianino has the ball, and only seeks to have it signed. She attempted to get it autographed that night (before the #250,000 notation became public knowledge), but was rebuffed by Tigers ushers, enforcing a Wrigley Field-style policy of only allowing the wealthy folks who sit in the dugout area prime seats to approach the dugout.
Don Gutteridge, longtime MLB player, coach, and manager, and last living member of the 1944 St. Louis Browns American League Champions, died in Pittsburg, Kansas at age 96, after a month-long battle with pneumonia.
Also, Don Haskins, coach at Texas Western (now known as University of Texas-El Paso) for men’s basketball, died last week. His most memorable coaching moment was winning the 1966 NCAA Championship by starting five African-American players, unheard of in those racially tense times, in the title game against Kentucky.