Chicago White Sox fans make return to Guaranteed Rate Field for Opening Day

Detroit Tigers beat White Sox 1-0

Thursday, March 28, 2024
White Sox Opening Day
White Sox Opening DayIt's MLB Opening Day, and the Chicago White Sox hosted the Detroit Tigers for a baseball game at Guaranteed Rate Field.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Excitement was in the air ahead of the Chicago White Sox hosting their first game of the season.

The White Sox took on the Detroit Tigers Thursday at Guaranteed Rate Field. The Tigers beat the Sox 1-0.

"It's White Sox Opening Day, that's the best day of the year," White Sox fan Herman Mendez said Thursday morning.

Michael Ruffolo's crew of die-hard White Sox fans were outside Guaranteed Rate Field at the wee morning hours, among the first, ahead of Opening Day.

"Sox fans are the best," Ruffolo said. "Through the hard, through the good, the bad times... we are always here. Up at 3:30 or 4 a.m., getting all the stuff together, loading up the cars, getting here. We got a little setup here, making breakfast for everybody."

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Rich Ruffolo, Michael's dad, has taken his son to each White Sox Opening Day for the past 25 years, since Michael was just one. Its a bond built on baseball and tradition.

"Rain, sleet, snow, sun shining," Rich Ruffolo said. "Whatever it is, we are out here... means everything. We come out here, we have a great time with our crew. There are only four of us here now, but it'll end up being fifty deep."

Dan Kazlowski found the largest hat possible to show off his White Sox fandom. He's been coming to opening day for 18 consecutive years.

"We got here at 4:09 a.m., so we tailgated out in the street for about 6 hours before they opened the lot up," Kazlowski said. "So we're having a great time, and Opening Day is a tradition."

The White Sox team is only projected to win about 61 games this year, but that's not something fans are worried about right now.

"This team can only surprise us at this point, so we're looking forward to seeing the roster Chris Getz has built this year, and hopefully toward the end of the year we're in," Kazlowski said.

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"It is what it is," Mendez said. "We're gonna try to get all these young kids playing, and hopefully we can get some magic going."

Inside the ballpark, under the stadium lights, before the crack of dawn, there was a fresh energy in the air, anticipation building ahead of that first pitch.

The team is ready to welcome thousands of eager fans, hoping for a winning season.

"It's our New Year's Day, it's our Christmas Day, it's everything wrapped up into one," Christine O'Reilly with White Sox Charities said.

"Opening Day is like an official holiday on all baseball fans' calendars, so we're excited to be here," White Sox spokesperson Sheena Quinn said.

Back at the Ruffolo's tailgate, win or lose, they are there for the South Side pride.

"Out here at the Sox side, it's about true baseball: grit, loyalty and fighting through everything," Ruffulo said.

Parking lots opened three hours ahead of game time, at 12:10 p.m., and gates opened two hours ahead of time, at 1:10 p.m.

Country music star Craig Morgan sang the National Anthem.

For fans, there was a Split The Pot Raffle, with half of proceeds going to White Sox Charities. The pots started at $50,000, so the winner is guaranteed at least $25,000.

SEE ALSO | Chicago Cubs face reigning World Series champion Texas Rangers on Opening Day

As for the Cubs, they play the reigning World Series champion Texas Rangers Thursday in Arlington, Texas for their first game of the season. The game starts at 6:35 p.m.

Cubs fans will have to wait until Monday for their Home Opener against the Colorado Rockies.