Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Friendly Cross-Town Rivalry on Chicago Baseball Scene, the South (Side) Is Rising

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Friendly Cross-Town Rivalry on Chicago Baseball Scene, the South (Side) Is Rising

Article excerpt

Interleague baseball didn't just work in Chicago, it worked wonders.

Fans flocked to Comiskey Park, which usually has more empty seats than patrons. They cheered and they jeered, raising the level of play on the field.

For three days and nights, the White Sox and Cubs - natural rivals who had met only in exhibition games since the 1906 World Series - were bigger than the Bulls, Bears and Blackhawks combined. "It was exciting," White Sox third baseman Chris Snopek said. "The fans made the atmosphere three times as much fun." The White Sox finished with 5-3 and 3-0 victories after the Cubs won the opener 8-3, leaving the American League team and its fans giddy and the NL's Cubs grouchy. "It was not like the first day, not at all," Cubs first baseman Mark Grace said after Wednesday's shutout loss. "The first game was fun, exciting. The last two were pathetic." But even the Cubs were taken in by the atmosphere. "Crowds like that heighten you mentally and help you focus," said Terry Mulholland, the losing pitcher Wednesday. "There was so much noise, you couldn't discern what they were cheering for, but it sounded great." The Cubs, with quaint Wrigley Field surrounded by a lively neighborhood, draw well, although the team is usually bad. But the White Sox have had trouble attracting fans since the 1994 strike that many feel was orchestrated by Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf. Even after Reinsdorf spent freely last offseason, acquiring Albert Belle and Jaime Navarro to go with Frank Thomas and other stars, the White Sox averaged only 20,420 fans in their first 32 home games. Then the Cubs came to Comiskey. The series drew 124,666 fans - 41,555 per game - and produced the season's only two sellouts. Tuesday's crowd of 44,249 was the largest ever at the 6-year-old ballpark, followed by Wednesday's 44,204. Through unusual ticket plans, Reinsdorf tried to ensure that the games would be attended mostly by White Sox fans. When the plans failed, Cubs fans started scooping up tickets. …

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