SOMEWHERE MY GRANDFATHER IS SMILING
As a diehard Cleveland Indians fan who watched hopelessly as the team's postseaon hope dwindled away, perhaps I should have been bitter and pulled for a Chicago White Sox debauchle. A nice three game sweep in the first round would have been fitting karma to the team that knocked out the Tribe, right? Well, I didn't think so, and my reasons were more personal than anything. Make no mistake that anytime the Wahoos and White Sox meet up, I'm rooting hard for Cleveland because they are my childhood team.
My dad and uncle have a different perspective, though. Growing up in the 50s, my dad and uncle rooted hard for the ChiSox because my grandfather, Paul Carlisle, had followed them since he was a boy. Paul, who grew up in the 20s and early days of radio, listened to some of the first baseball games ever broadcasted on the radio. Though he grew up in North Central Ohio, Cleveland did not have an AM radio station yet. Chicago, however, had two powerful ones with signals that spanned most of the midwest; one broadcast the Sox, the other, the Cubs. As a result, my grandfather, who played baseball in high school in the small town of Utica and then went on to be principal of Montgomery Elementary School in Ashland, was an avid listener of White Sox games on the radio into his adulthood. My dad often recalled to me how he had a "lucky penny," which he would keep in his pocket on game days. Dad, of course, picked up following the Sox, too. He idolized second baseman Nelson Fox, who won MVP in 1959--coincidentally the year of the White Sox only AL pennant. My grandfather, who was not old enough to understand baseball during the Chicago White Sox World Series win in 1916, never really witnessed a Chicago championship. The '59 team was the closest.
In 1971, my grandfather died from complications with diabetes. I wasn't born for another 14 years, so obviously, I never met him. Nonetheless, those who knew him constantly remind me of what a great man and leader he was. Upon graduating high school, my uncle presented me with a letter that contained some of the proverbs my grandfather lived by. Paul constantly reiterated to his sons the importance of intergrity, honesty, and loving everyone, even those don't particularly like. He recognized that the most intelligent people are not afraid to ask questions.
It is for these reasons that when Juan Uribe fired a bullet to Paul Konerko on a trickling ground ball, which gave the Sox a 4-0 series win over the Astros, I couldn't help but crack a smile. My grandfather may have not witnessed a championship for his beloved team on Earth, but I have no doubt he was looking down on it from above and leading a heavenly celebration.