CHICAGO – The top of the sixth inning during a White Sox loss to the Royals on Wednesday night ended fairly calmly with a ground ball from Nicky Lopez back to pitcher Matt Foster.
Foster threw first baseman José Abreu for the third out, and Abreu followed his usual practice of throwing the ball to short Tim Anderson as they headed for the home shelter. Then the fun began for the fans.
Anderson throws between 13 and 15 baseballs in the stands at every home game. He will play between four and six pregames and then throw one in each inning.
Fans behind the White Sox Shelter and really anywhere near the White Sox Shelter know what’s coming and jump up while Anderson searches for his next souvenir destination. And really everyone in this first base / left field area becomes a potential recipient.
“You know what’s coming. You want her. There will be all the people in the window screaming, ”a smiling Anderson told MLB.com, referring to the fans in the 300-level suites making their baseball announcements. “People at the top, people at the bottom.
“People everywhere want a ball, so I try to make sure I take care of as many people as possible,” added Anderson. “I can’t take care of everyone, but I can try to get you a ball, get you some kind of memories.”
There are no set criteria for where Anderson’s throws lead at the end of the inning. He looks around to see who has a glove, and if he wants to throw far, Anderson makes sure the ball hits the glove.
“When it’s a lot of kids, I try to make sure I praise it. Not too difficult, ”said Anderson. “I try to give it more of an upper angle than line drives. Line drives are too hard.
“So I just try to get it up in the air and they take care of the rest. I usually hit my target. I try to focus on children. There would be younger children in the windows. Try to do some in the windows. It’s pretty cool to see their reaction when they get a ball. Definitely memories. “
Don’t look for Anderson trying to go across the field to the fans on the first baseline. This throw is a little too far as Anderson leaves Abreu in charge of the area.
But in the process of giving back to the fans, Anderson also helps himself in the game.
“It definitely keeps me relaxed when I throw her up there,” said Anderson. “There can be an inning where I don’t get a ball so I have to use my arm somehow so I throw it in the stands.”
These Anderson and fan moments, which happen during every home game, are a microcosm of a greater bond between the White Sox fan base and the top American League Central team. Fans have patiently awaited the lean 2017-19 rebuilding years, not to mention the fanless 2020 campaign sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, and are now responding to a second season with great success.
All three games of the past weekend against Cleveland exceeded the plateau of 34,000 spectators, with the White Sox drawing a total of over 106,000 spectators. There was a playoff-like atmosphere, even when Cleveland was sitting 9 1/2 games behind the White Sox from Sunday night.
“I spoke to Leury” [García]who has been here since 2013 and he said that was most of the people he has ever seen here. So it’s pretty special, ”said outfielder Andrew Vaughn. “The fans really came out and really showed their support. We hope it stays that way all year round. “
“We played a lot of the organ when I got here before the game and you could really hear,” Anderson said of the past void. “It was quiet, but now the audience is really excited.”
It has become a baseball party for the South Siders, and Anderson is doing what he can to add to the fun.
“It’s the place to go on the weekends before you go out,” said Anderson, with a great description of the guaranteed price field. “We’re trying to do it as a pregame for you. You come to the game, have a drink, have fun. We have a DJ up there who plays good music. Use it as foreplay before the night starts.
“It’s definitely fun to play like that and the atmosphere is definitely crazy. We definitely have a lot of fun with it. We’re now at a point where we play good baseball – win. We’re in first place and the fans come for us every night. “