A win for the ages for White Sox fans
Supporters enjoy long-awaited return to World Series
CHICAGO -- It was a moment that he has been waiting his whole life to see, but Nick Hayes almost couldn't bear to watch.
With his hands clasped and a jittery stance, the 23-year-old White Sox fan stood behind his corner table at the upstairs bar of the ESPNZone on Sunday night with his eyes looking down at the floor. Hayes couldn't help that as the White Sox stood just three outs from their first trip to the World Series since 1959, his thoughts were drifting to everything that could possibly go wrong.
In a city that has seen its fair share of disappointment in baseball, it's no surprise.
"Anyone remember the 2003 Cubs?" Hayes questioned of the other Chicago team that blew a 3-1 series lead in the 2003 NLCS. "It's not over yet."
Hayes wasn't alone in his fretting. The entire crowd gathered to watch the game held its collective breath until the final out. When Paul Konerko stepped on first base to secure a 6-3 victory, a bar full of Chicago baseball fans erupted in screams and jumped for joy.
It was a celebration that the city of Chicago has been awaiting for the past 46 years, a chance to watch one of the city's two baseball teams return to baseball's promised land. And a momentous occasion that every fan seemed to take part in.
"It's the biggest relief you could ever imagine," Hayes said. "This is what I've been waiting for. I've spent all the years of my life being a Sox fan, and now, finally, I will get to see my team in the World Series. It's just unbelievable."
There are many White Sox fans that were around the last time that the Sox hosted the Fall Classic back in '59 but for the majority, this will be the first time that they have been able to witness such a historic event.
"We're a young generation of Sox fans, but we've heard all about the heartbreak," said Steve Hoesley, 20, of Chicago. "My parents remind me every day how lucky I am to have this right now."
As Hoesley and the rest of the crowd ran around high-fiving each other, other fans spilled out into the streets. A lone man with a White Sox hat and No. 1 foam finger stood on the corner of Ontario and State streets, waving at cars while the sound of honking car horns filled the air.
Around U.S. Cellular Field, police cars blocked off highway exit ramps and street entrances as fans ran around screaming "World Series!" into the night.
While the majority of the fans out celebrating the historic moment were true blue South Side fans, there were also a fair share of Cubs fans that joined in to partake of what will be a significant moment for all of Chicago.
The mind of the entire city has been phased to baseball. Even as the Bears were picking up their second win of the season at Soldier Field on Sunday, the thoughts of the football crowd were on the White Sox. Black-and-white jerseys were scattered amongst a packed Soldier Field with chants of "Let's Go White Sox" filling the air.
"Everything is a backburner to the Sox," said Hayes, who was at the Bears game before heading to watch the White Sox on TV. "Everyone is going to be watching the Sox for the next week and a half."
In a town that has seen championships in basketball and football since the last time the White Sox won the American League pennant, there still remains an aura around the sport for the boys of summer. White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf has made it known how much it would mean to him for a championship in baseball, and the same seems to be said of many Chicago fans.
"Chicago is a baseball town, it has just been hidden in all the disappointment over the years," Tell said. "Everyone reminisces about the 1985 Bears, but this town would die for a World Series champion. It doesn't matter whether it's the Cubs or the Sox who win it, this city would give up everything for a World Series champion."
Sunday was a night that no Chicago baseball fan will ever forget but one that all are hoping can be upstaged in the coming weeks. Though all are happy to see the team in the World Series, many are placing all their faith in that this will finally be the year that the White Sox end their 88-year title drought.
"It's like, Boston did it last year, so why not us?" Hoesley said.Welcome to Soxtober, where anything is possible.
Kelly Thesier is a contributor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.