Rain holds off as White Sox fans gather for home opener

A festive move among tailgaters at the ballpark gave way to a more somber reality inside Guaranteed Rate Field where the Sox lost to the San Francisco Giants 12-3.

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Fans gather outside Guaranteed Rate Field for the White Sox home opener Monday, April 3, 2023 against the San Francisco Giants.

Fans gather outside Guaranteed Rate Field for the White Sox home opener Monday against the San Francisco Giants.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

David Blitstein’s father has held White Sox season tickets since the 1950s, and over the years, he figures they went to about 30 home openers together.

Now, Blitstein, who lives in Roscoe Village, is continuing the tradition with his kids. He and his wife, Lena Blitstein, brought their children Ella, 11, and Isaac, 9, to their third Sox home opener as a family, as the team faced the San Francisco Giants. Isaac brought a baseball and a Sharpie in hopes of scoring an autograph from Sox shortstop Tim Anderson.

White Sox baseball means “everything” to her husband, Lena said.

Even as the sky threatened rain, the Guaranteed Rate Field parking lots filled with smoke from tailgaters’ grills and the sound of cornhole games hours before the first pitch.

Plenty of others in the parking lot were observing similar family traditions.

David Blitstein (clockwise from left rear) and his wife, Lena, with their children Ella and Isaac.

David Blitstein (clockwise from left rear) and his wife, Lena, with their children Ella and Isaac have made going to White Sox games a family tradition.

Catherine Odom/Sun-Times

Jackie Walsko teared up as she remembered going to Sox games with her dad. The friends she tailgated with called her “one of the biggest Sox fans on Earth.”

“It’s my favorite thing to do,” Walsko said.

She said her father’s health is deteriorating, but she hopes to bring him to one more game.

Jackie Walsko, Jennifer Dahl, Nancy Mink and David DuVall tailgate at the White Sox 2023 home opener on Monday.

Jackie Walsko, Jennifer Dahl, David DuVall and Nancy Mink tailgate at the White Sox 2023 home opener on Monday.

Catherine Odom/Sun-Times

The home opener brought Ron Klemme and his son Ean Klemme all the way from Winona, Minnesota to celebrate Ean’s birthday. He turned 20 on Monday, and Ron figures they’ve celebrated about 10 of his birthdays this way.

Alex Moody, a self-described “Sox fanatic” from Frankfort, Illinois, said he’s been a diehard fan since the 2005 World Series. As someone who grew up on the South Side, being a Sox fan is part of his family lineage, he said.

“Everyone in my family is a Sox fan,” Moody said. He added, laughing: “If you’re from the South Side and you root for the Cubs, you are an absolute disgrace.”

Those rooting for the Sox on Monday, however, were probably a little disappointed in the outcome, with their team getting pummeled 12-3 by San Francisco.

Still, fans were optimistic about the upcoming season, and seeing the White Sox split their weekend series with the Houston Astros, the defending World Series champions, didn’t hurt.

Gray skies greeted White Sox fans at Guaranteed Rate Field on Monday, April 3, 2023 for the team’s home opener.

Gray skies greeted White Sox fans at Guaranteed Rate Field on Monday, but they were able to play the team’s home opener — unfortunately, as it turns out, as they lost to San Francisco 12-3.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

“They could have probably won all four games, so I think they’re looking pretty good this year,” said Ron Durr. He cheered the Sox on with his wife, Alenda Durr and Diego, their son.

Durr, a lifelong baseball and Sox fan, said he is hopeful about the change in Sox leadership, with Pedro Grifol taking over as manager this season.

Anthony Calderon said he has “high hopes” for this season. Calderon tailgated before the game with his friends and his son.

“Ask me every year, and we’re winning the World Series,” Calderon said with a smile.

Fans dressed in White Sox apparel, necklaces and flags stand for a photo outside of Guaranteed Rate Stadium on the White Sox opening day, Monday, April 3, 2023.

Anthony Calderon (center right, in white pinstriped Sox jersey) joined friends and family outside Guaranteed Rate Field for Monday’s home opener. His sone Anthony Calderon, Jr., preferred one of the team’s alternate “Southside” jerseys.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Diego Durr, a student at Morton College, said his dad’s love of baseball rubbed off on him only in the past year. He said he likes the new pitch clock rule, imposed to speed up games.

Pitchers now have a 15-second window to deliver to home plate if there are no runners on base, and a 20-second window when runners are on base.

Ron Durr said he thinks faster games will help more people enjoy watching baseball. Julanne Montville, a Giants fan who lives in Oak Park, is skeptical.

“I’m not enthusiastic about those changes,” Montville said. “I feel like it’s a little too much taking the game away from the players.”

Montville, who has attended training at Wendelstedt Umpire School, started following baseball after reading the book “Moneyball” in 2009. The Giants became her favorite team because of pitcher Tim Lincecum and the Giants’ 2010 World Series victory.

A fan pretends to slide into home outside Guaranteed Rate Field on Monday. The stone marker, in a parking lot north of the stadium, designates the location of home plate in Comiskey Park, where the White Sox played from 1910 through the 1990 season.

A fan pretends to slide into home outside Guaranteed Rate Field on Monday. The stone marker, in a parking lot north of the stadium, designates the location of home plate in Comiskey Park, where the White Sox played from 1910 through the 1990 season.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

This season, Montville plans to attend around 25 baseball games. She said Guaranteed Rate Field is one of her favorite places to watch a game.

“The experience at Guaranteed Rate is amazing. It’s always fun, and people are friendly, and the food is fantastic,” Montville said.

Others also gave the food at Guaranteed Rate Field high praise. The Durrs said it is some of the best ballpark food they’ve had. But the most important part of a Sox game for their family is spending time together.

“It’s a good time to get together and enjoy each other’s company,” Ron Durr said, “with baseball as a backdrop.”

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Fans take a photo at the Champions Moment Monument outside Guaranteed Rate Field at the White Sox 2023 home opener on Monday.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

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