Today, the kids like to use the word “cringe” in totality as a flavor for their ultimate distaste in a situation, and today, I agree with them. The White Sox are typically seen as a mafia code outfit that takes pride and family above all things. One of the most common themes throughout the team’s history is that Jerry Reinsdorf will always retain his favorite people no matter how hard he has to smash a square peg into a round hole to have a job within the organization. I mean, look at Tony La Russa out there prattling along, pretending he knows how to be a Big League manager in a game that continues to leave him behind daily. Do you think Rick Hahn wanted that guy?
In 2005, the White Sox pulled a class move, which was well within their traditional framework, and named a small seating area “Loretta’s Lounge” after Loretta Micele, who worked for the White Sox since 1945 – Micele had put in 60 years with the organization. This woman was already a ballpark veteran when the fresh-faced Beatles rolled into Chicago and took to the shabby stage in the center of old Comisky. She was there for The Go-Go White Sox, the Winning Ugly year. She was there for the infamous Disco Demolition night and cheered her heart out when the White Sox won the World Series that year. The sign was a token gift. A thank you for all of her years of service. Something her grandkids and great-grandkids could pass by and point, saying, “see this little spot, they named that after my grandma, she worked here for a long time. Ain’t that cool?”
And then recently, some suit in management decided it was time for a change. Loretta’s Lounge is now “La Russa’s Lounge.” How tacky is that?
What bonehead in middle management thought was the move that no one would notice? Tony La Russa is a figure in White Sox history. He’s the guy we’re stuck with for at least the rest of this year and a once vital manager that Hawk Harrelson fired when he was a horrific General Manager. Tony La Russa does not deserve to replace Loretta or her memory, even in the context of this small gesture.
The Northwest Indiana Times wrote about Loretta’s joy at the time, “I’d like to have died when I saw it. They had me on the field and I waved and blew kisses to everyone.” This regular, working-class old bird built from Bridgeport stock got a nod from the team she spent her life working for, and now it’s taken away for some slick marketing bullshit.
I’ve seen the comments on Twitter. “How many World Series rings does she have?” or “I never even noticed that sign before.” And that second one, that’s the point. We all like to be recognized for our hard work, for the time we put in. Tony La Russa doesn’t give a shit about his little seating area. He’s got a plaque in Cooperstown. But for Lorretta Micele, this was her Cooperstown. It wasn’t much, but it was a sign of respect. And the White Sox should be ashamed for this one.
The Sox are always seen as a number two, far behind the Cubs on every scale in sports from fans to attendance, whatever – loyalty is a big thing to the fanbase, to prove we were there when no one else was in those seats. The Cubs are a marketing machine built in a baseball mall owned by a family of assholes. The White Sox have maintained an “us against them” mentality since the jump, sitting right in a neighborhood that isn’t overflowing with bars and tourists. Instead, on non-game days, it’s a quiet little neighborhood with families that go back generations. Loretta’s family is still there, and she was one of those people. The small victories in life matter, and whatever marketing jerk took that away from her life’s story, I hope you get mustard on your suit.