Hi Andy

August 16, 2006

Back when the White Sox played at old Comiskey Park, the ushers were all from a company called Andy Frain. They were a spiffy looking group with a snappy uniform and official hat that had in big block letters "Andy Frain". Most of the guys they hired were of the pencil neck geek variety. There were quite a few mathletes that ended up as Andy Frain ushers. If you sneezed hard they'd fall over.

As kids, one of favorite things to do at a game was to say to every Andy Frain usher you saw "Hi Andy". Every single one. Every single time you walked by. If the usher checked your ticket, when he was done you'd say "Thanks Andy". Going to get a hot dog? On the way by you made sure to say "Hi Andy". This caught on with quite a few people, even the adults. I remember sitting near an Andy Frain usher as he was checking tickets one game and I swear I heard "Hi Andy" at least a hundred times.

It became a game. If there was two or more of them standing together it was like you scored more points by collectively calling them Andy.

The ushers knew who the wise asses were. They'd always give you a dirty look just as you walked up. It didn't matter. You'd just smile at him and say "Hi Andy". It felt good. It was tradition. It felt like freedom. It felt like you were an American.

You never really got in trouble for it. I think that's what made it so fun. If they called you on it, you'd just point at their hat and say "Oh I'm sorry, I thought that was your name." You made sure to say this with the biggest shit-eating grin you could muster.

This went on for years and years until one day my friend Doug and I were at a game. We saw a guy say "Hiya Andy " to an usher. A couple of minutes later that same guy was being thrown out of the park by the yellow jackets. (The yellow jackets were the off duty Chicago cops. When there was a problem the ushers would call them in. They wore plain yellow jackets and would kick your ass at the drop of a hat. You DID NOT mess with the yellow jackets).

Doug and I looked at each other like "What the hell?". We noticed the Andy Frain usher was looking our way and grinning ear to ear. He had a look on his face like "Go ahead. I dare you to call me Andy."

There must have been a policy change at the old ballpark. A new rule in place.

No more Andy.

Doug and I turned our backs to the usher and watched the Sox lose another game. On the way out we saw the the usher standing in the aisle talking with two of his co-workers. Doug stopped in front of them and said to each one of them "Great game huh Andy. Goodnight Andy. Take care Andy."

It was a beautiful moment. His timing... his delivery.... it was the perfect way to say goodbye to the Hi Andy era..

The rarest of all plays in baseball is the triple play.
I had just witnessed something even more special.

A Triple Andy.


(Here's a photo of Joe 40,000 Murphy, one of the earlier bosses of the Andy Frain ushers and a noted outsider artist)

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