Tuesday, April 30, 2019

EXTRA: Would you rather have Bobby Bonds 'bat,' or a Sox soccer jersey?

I couldn't help but get my chuckles from an old Chicago White Sox promotional announcement preserved on YouTube. It was Bat Day for the White Sox as they played the Boston Red Sox at Comiskey Park. The first few thousand kids who showed up for the game with a paying parent got a baseball bat engraved with the signature of Sox "star" Bobby Bonds.
I use "star" in parentheses because by the time Bobby came to Chicago's South Side, his best years were behind him. In fact, Bonds' White Sox stint lasted only 26 games in 1978, before he was traded to the Texas Rangers, which was one of many ballclubs he bounced around to (including the Chicago Cubs) the last half of his ballplaying career.

BONDS, WHO USED to have the baseball rep of being a guy who could hit 30 or more home runs and steal 30 or more bases in a season, only managed two home runs and six stolen bases, along with eight runs batted in, during his White Sox stint.

If anything, his most significant contribution to Chicago sports was being traded to Texas for, amongst others, outfielder Claudell Washington, whose defensive play was such that he was the subject matter of the famed fan banner that read, "Washington Slept Here."

I wonder if anyone who showed up for that ballgame some 41 seasons ago actually still has the Bobby Bonds model bat they were given that day. Or have they all been reduced to pieces of scrap long ago?

It should be noted that Bat Day is a long-ago concept. I can't think of the last time a baseball team gave out replica bats to try to get kids (and their parents) to come to a ballgame. Although I remember as a kid having Bat Day bats bearing the "signatures" of Sox pseudo-stars "Beltin'" Bill Melton and Walt "No Neck" Williams -- both of which I recall my brother and I shattering into pieces while actually playing ball with them.

NOWADAYS, WE GET off-beat trinkets as ballpark giveaways for promotional stunts. Take this coming weekend, when the Boston Red Sox make their one trip to Chicago for 2019.
Would you rather have a bat?

Saturday's ballgame at Guaranteed Rate Field will see bobblehead figures of "Star Wars" character R2-D2 (the sassy, sarcastic robot, rather than the prissy C-3PO) given out, while Sunday will see distribution of soccer-style jerseys in the black-and-white colors and Old English-style logo of the White Sox.

In short, the appeal is to get the Star Wars fans into the ballpark (it's May 4, which unofficially is Star Wars Day) on Saturday, along with the many Mexicanos who like soccer and would think it worth it to go to a beisbol game on Sunday, which is Cinco de Mayo.

Whereas if you tried to do a Bat Day these days, you'd have to offer up Tim Anderson models, and many of the kids might think the point is to flip it aside like a javelin -- rather than try to develop a solid swing that makes contact and achieves many, many base hits..


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