Series a true lifelong dream for some
1917 meets 2005, as Sox fans at Game 2 provide link to past
CHICAGO -- The lamenting by White Sox fans that they've been waiting a lifetime to see a world championship could be heard everywhere around U.S. Cellular Field during the first two games of the World Series.
When your team hasn't won a championship since 1917, that's no surprise. Sure, every fan has waited their own share of time to see such an event, but no fan may understand the Sox drought better than Joe Nugara Sr.
Born one month after the Sox championship in 1917, Nugara has spent all 87 years of his life awaiting a World Series title for his beloved Sox. Now he's hoping that when he celebrates his 88th birthday on Nov. 12th, he will do so wearing a championship T-shirt.
"To win the World Series would be phenomenal," Nugara said. "I can't comprehend it right now."
The native South Sider grew up four blocks from Old Comiskey Park. At the age of nine, Nugara worked at the ballpark selling soda pop for 15 cents while spending more time watching the game than actually hawking pop bottles.
"I had a good time at that job," Nugara said with a chuckle. "I would even drink some of the pop on my own from time to time."
His love for the Sox carried through during his service in World War II, when he would follow the Sox accomplishments in the paper that was delivered to the troops. His faith in the team wavered at times, especially when he thought that the team had a chance to capture it all in 1994 before a strike halted the season, but never did he stop cheering for his hometown team.
"We got cheated that year," Nugara said of '94. "But we're not going to be cheated this year."
Nugara has seen plenty of Sox games in his lifetime, but Sunday night's game marked his first trip to a World Series game. Nugara, along with his two sons and three grandsons, took in the action of the game from the upper deck of U.S. Cellular Field. The smile on his face was a mile wide as he watched the pregame festivities take place from his seat.
"My entire life, I've seen only two World Series for the Sox," Nugara said. "In 88 years, that's a long time. As Sox fans, we got used to it. We would say, 'Maybe next year,' but after '59 there was such a drought that we didn't always believe it.
"Now to be here for a World Series, it's finally a reality. It's unbelievable. It's something I never thought I would be able to see in my lifetime."
Nugara wasn't the only fan in attendance on Sunday that thought the Sox wouldn't return to the Fall Classic in his lifetime. Fran Higley, 92, has attended around 20 Sox games every season for the past few years thanks to her son, Cliff, a season ticket holder. Sitting in that seat on Sunday night, Higley wore a hat that was embroidered with the words, "I've waited 92 years to see this." She may have been alive in 1917, when the last championship was won, but Higley said that she was too young to appreciate it then.
"It's been 92 years, because at the age of four, I couldn't enjoy the win then," Higley said. "Now, it would be so thrilling to see it happen."
Higley has been a Sox fan ever since she can remember, growing up near Lincolnshire, Ill. Never one to miss a Sox game, Higley does everything in her power to make sure that she can follow the game in some capacity. Even if that means dragging her radio with her.
"I went to play bingo during Game 2 of the first playoff series, but I took my radio so I could listen to the game," Higley said.
Cliff Higley has watched his mother's passion for the South Side team develop from a passing fancy to a downright love. Fran was unable to attend the games in 1959 because she had to work at a family-owned tavern while her son sat at home watching the games. Though the wait to again have a chance to be at the World Series was longer than even she had anticipated, seeing it come to reality was an emotional moment for her family.
"She used to always tell me she'd never make it to a World Series, and I reassured her we'd make it yet," Cliff Higley said. "Of course, we had to wait until she was 92, but we're here."
Kelly Thesier is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.