I grew up just outside the southwest side of Chicago. The house that I was raised in contained a total of two television sets.
One was a good sized color set, positioned obligatorily in my parent’s bedroom. The other was a 19" black and white that I shared with three siblings and a grandmother.
Fortunately for me, granny had taken a serious interest in the White Sox and every game that was telecast was proudly displayed in our den in living monochrome.
My first visit to a White Sox game, or any major sporting event for that matter, came when I was 10 years old, at the old Comiskey Park.
It was one of the most memorable days of my youth for a few reasons. Upon entering the park that first time, I encountered my first surprise of the day:
I was immediately struck by the colors I was seeing. Most of the games I had ever seen had been on that old black and white TV. I felt like I had fallen down the rabbit hole into a dimension of psychedelic retinal bliss.
This sensory nirvana even seemed to drown out the fact that the Sox had quickly begun to get drubbed by the Yankees.
Late in the game, after the crowd had become thinner than Ally McBeal, I spotted an opportunity and snuck down to an empty seat just behind the Sox bullpen dugout.
As a relief pitcher who was warming up got called in for mop-up duty, he tossed the ball over the top of the dugout and I caught it. That had been the third surprise of the day.
The second surprise, experienced sometime around the fourth inning, had been just as shocking but not nearly as enjoyable...my first experience at the pee trough.
As I entered the bathroom I immediately halted in my tracks as I caught a glimpse of several grown men standing shoulder to shoulder urinating into what appeared to be a long trough, like the kind that was used to feed horses.
I had never seen or imagined such a thing in my life.
In my limited experience at the time, urinating was in no way a spectator sport. The pee trough had positioned it to become not only a spectator sport, but a contact sport as well and I was terrified.
The only other option was to wait for a stall. Noticing that the line was much too long for my adolescent bladder to hold out on, I wedged myself in between two large scruffy men and proceeded with my business.
Without delving too deeply into the mechanics of the process, suffice it to say that as I was finishing I noticed a small drop of my urine fly up and hit the guy standing to my right on his left cheek, just below his eye. He somehow hadn’t noticed and I decided to slip out of the bathroom before he had time to figure it out.
So that’s the summation of my first experience at a big time sports event. I had seen my first live game, caught a ball, and urinated on a grown man’s face. It had been the greatest day of my life.