LUOL'S DONG: So, where did you get the idea for Soxman? It's not every day that you decide to put your dirty laundry on a Batman suit.
SOXMAN: On a cold night during the 2005 ALDS, I tucked two “rally socks” that were walk-in give-a-ways under the ear portion of my Sox cap to keep my ears warm. That night, at least 50 people must have asked me where I “bought” that hat. Picture a cartoon with the light bulb going off above the person’s head. That was me.
Second, shortly after that game, I bet a friend, who is a die hard Cubs fan that if (when) the White Sox made it to the World Series, I would do something to prove to the city—heck to the world, that Sox fans are the most dedicated, passionate, and yes crazy fans around.
The morning after they clinched, the idea came to me in the shower of all places to create a Sox super hero. I made some initial sketches, knowing I had to work the “sock ears” into the concept somewhere. I literally put the first costume together with safety pins and glue in less than 24 hours.
The best experience as of late was the night the White Sox clinched the AL Central, Jim Thome walked over to me along with Dewayne Wise. I got a champagne shower and a high five. Jim Thome gave me the cork to his champagne bottle.
LD: What was it like "working" with Ronnie Woo Woo? Aside from the demented playground shennanigans, some people would call this an act of treachery! There's no escaping your past - we have access to streaming video!
SM: (laughs) Working with Ronnie Woo Woo has been without a doubt the number one factor that has caused Sox fans to question my loyalty to the team. The sappy side to the WGN piece also made people question my sanity.
In 2006, WGN morning man Pat Tomasulo and I had been trying to collaborate on something creative for the Sox\Cubs series. The original concept was going to be a “showdown” between fans. Then the AJ-Barrett fiasco occurred. As the series was moving to Wrigley, city officials and MLB were paranoid that an already heated rivalry might lead to chaos.
Tomasulo asked if I’d be willing to go in another direction with the taping to promote unity for the love of the game and to make people laugh. I knew the perception dangers it would have to many, but I agreed and signed on.
Ronnie was actually a pretty nice guy and could share many baseball memories back before I was born. Remember, we filmed in Wrigleyville, where Soxman was not very popular, or wanted. At times, the film crew had to contain Ronnie’s energy, but we got through most snippets with one or two takes.
After the filming, he wanted me to hang out all day with him in costume, promoting places we could get a free lunch or meet with former players, but I did not have the time (Ed's Note: Ronnie? Free food? What?). He did introduce me to Jim Hendry though, which was pretty neat.
I’ve since worked with Ronnie a couple of other times for charitable causes. We also had a “face off” in an eating contest during the Chicago Wolves “Hungry Hump Day” promotion. I won.
FOR THE RECORD: I admit the WGN piece was sappy and silly, but I did it for a specific purpose or a greater good. If that makes me a traitor, so be it. So if having Cubs and Sox fans united in agreement that I was a dork (or worse) eliminated one fight, it was worth it.
LD: Speaking of Woo Woo, he was apparently let into the Sox ALDS home games by some "less than scrupulous" Sox fans. They even got him a Sox jersey that said "Woo Woo" on it. I would probably equate this to Hitler being given a presidential pardon.
SM: That’s just wrong (laughs). While I would congratulate the Cubs if they were to ever break the now-101 year curse, you would NEVER see me transform into “Cubs Man.”
That said, Cubs fans are frustrated and many have deleted their “Go Cubs Go” ring tones, thrashed their A-Ram jersey’s, and ditched the Bud for Miller Light to be part of the blackout on the south side. Maybe Ronnie has had enough as well? Well they’ll always have Jim Belushi.
LD: Woo Woo aside, what's the strangest request you've ever gotten from a fan?
SM: Aside from pictures and autographs, the most common request by females is to remove my mask. Of course I won’t do that.
Strangest request? I was offered $100 for charity to re-create the “upside down kiss” from Spiderman at a charity appearance with a girl. She was cute as well, but I declined as my heart belonged to another at the time.
LD: At least she didn't ask you to drug her and drive like a psychopath at high speeds down the Dan Ryan like Batman normally would.
SM: When filming an interview for the Best Damn Sports Show in 2007, I had a girl grab my, er, “sock” on camera. She said, “thanks, I had to know and knew you wouldn’t let me if I asked.” When doing an interview for NBC earlier this year, I had an attractive female ask me to sign her breast in front of a reporter. I also declined.
LD: Aw...come on! Live a little! Does the missus at least get lucky with the costume? Has she ever asked you to wear the whole getup to bed?
SM: (laughs) Yes, on more than one occasion. Now whether I did or didn’t, a super hero doesn’t kiss and tell.
LD: OK, so what about NOT wearing the costume? Doesn't it get miserably hot and itchy inside that thing?
SM: Heck yeah. Especially, in July and August. Aside from the Sox\Cubs series, I try to avoid day games during those months at all possible costs. Most nights after games, I’m usually saturated in sweat and often stop off at a 7-11 on the way home to buy Gatorade.
The latex rubber Soxman costume is by far the worst. I think I lost five pounds last time I wore that one. It is no wonder why I have only worn it like 3-4 times. To the flipside, it is nice and toasty during those spring night games.
LD: Random question: who would win in a fight to the death - the Empire Carpet guy, or the Menards guy?
SM: 588-2300 EMPIRE. You just have a feeling he’s a ball of fire. Besides, even if he lost, you would still get to keep the free Bissell carpet shampooer.
LD: World goes down in flames - only one Sox player and Cubs player survive to live in your bomb shelter. Who've you got?
SM: Well, you would have to think about survival first, and entertainment second. My White Sox pick would bring the best of both worlds: Mark Buehrle.
Buehrle is an avid hunter, which would bode well for rounding up food when we left the shelter. He is also a prankster and could think up entertaining things to do to pass the time like turning a piece of tarp into a slip and slide.
As far as Cubs players go, maybe Alfonso Soriano. First, if there was a society left after the bomb, went off his millions would come in handy. Second, even if there was a fight, he’d likely swing and miss. Third, he pretty much bombed as a free agent signing for the Cubs and still managed to survive, so he has experience in this area. Fourth, he plays for the Cubs and survived the great disaster of the 2008 play-offs. If he could survive that…
LD: Ouch. That hurts worse than listening to Ken Griffey Jr's, at-bat music.
SM: You don’t really believe that “Soul Glow,” the product commercial theme song from Eddie Murphy’s Coming to America really motivates Jr. to knock the cover off the ball do you? Maybe it makes him laugh, which in turn makes him looser at the plate. Well if the song is any indicator of batting average, it might be time for a change.
LD: Wow. Bonus points for actually knowing what the hell that monstrosity of music is.
SM: Give me Paulie’s Harvester of Sorrow or Bobby Jenks' Boom any day.
LD: Paulie was certainly harvesting sorrow with his performance this year - caused me enough agony on my fantasy team. You play fantasy, or do any gaming at all?
SM: I’m a fantasy sports junkie first and foremost. In my opinion many of the video sports games today are the same.
The best ever in my opinion is 3D0’s High Heat Baseball 2004 for the PC. OK, the graphics do not even come close to rivaling the worst baseball game on the market today, but the developers purposely left “open code” with the game making in easy to tailor it as you see fit.
There were gamers who offered hacks for it all over the net. You could program in unique better walk-up music, so Thome could actually walk-up to “The Beautiful People.” You could even program yourself into the game with your actual photo, build historical stats, etc.
LD: That...that's awesome.
SM: I even had an edit for the game where Hawk would shout “You can put it on the Board …YEASS” after a White Sox homer.
LD: ...holy crap. Hate to cut this short, but I've got a date with BitTorrent.
Soxman writes regularly for the Chicago Red Eye, and thesportsbank.net. He can be reached at thesoxman.com. Got a question for Soxman? E-Mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org (or if you're illiterate, ask us and we'll do it for you).