Bridgeport--the neighborhood that birthed five Chicago Irish mayors--is the next neighborhood south of me and is where I found myself Friday night at the Sox game.
My hometown friends Kim and Jeff had a couple of extra tickets. I took one, and Jeff's friend Lori--a Bridgeport native and big Sox fan took the other.
I like baseball--just not six freakin months of it--so now is about the time I can consider to start paying attention and Lori was more than willing to bring me up to speed. Before long I was watching the board to see how the Detroit/Minnesota game was progressing and was as concerned as Brideport Lori about reliever Bobby Jenks' hip issues. We were just a couple of rows off the third base line, where we could keep an eye on the bull pen. Yes friends, I was keeping an eye on the bull pen.
"Uh, look. Bobby's up!" Lori said. He had started throwing some pitches, something that also that grabbed the attention of the guys behind me.
"Hey Bobby! Don't mess dis one up!" shouted one.
"He's not in yet, douchebag!" said the other.
He was in soon enough though, and immediately gave away their two run lead.
"What is this? A Cubs game?" I asked to no one in particular.
Bobby was pulled, some other guy came in and the Sox ended up with a win. I couldn't help but think that maybe the 11th hour drama was staged ala the WWF. Seriously, they're in the lead, a reliever comes in and sucks to the high heavens, then the stars come out (hottie Paul Konerko and AJ Pierzynski) and save the day. Great script.
After the game, the four of us went to Jimbo's to wade in a sweaty sea of drunken Sox fans. I asked Lori where she watched the Sox win the World Series last year and she mentioned this place, the oldest bar in Chicago. It seemed like a great alternative to our current crowded environs, so we left immediately. And after Lori tells you, "the joint is a hoot!" you know you can't go wrong.
I immediately fell in love with Schaller's. Honestly there are a dozen places like this back where I grew up, but what we don't have is Schaller's entertainment--a 70-something crooner playing a keyboard and singing Sinatra, and equally vintage waitresses coming up and belting out a tune or two. It was awesome. Jack Schaller, 82, and the grandson of the guy who originally opened up the place in 1882 was quite the host. When I thanked him before we left, he said, "Ah shit, it's nothing."
As for Bridgeport Lori, she is one gal who loves her neighborhood. At 51, she swears she's never been to Wrigleyville (Jack told me he's never heard of it) and gets all tense if she ever has to go north of Archer.
"It's too transient up there," Lori said. "We come from people who worked in the stockyards. Generation after generation stays here." She was preaching to the converted--I've spent 9 of my ten years in Chicago living south of Madison.
And I for one, would put my money on the South Side if Chicago ever dissolved into Civil War.