Conversing with White Sox Legend Ron Kittle at BP Crosstown Cup

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This week marks the height of summer festival season. In most major cities across North America, prominent street fairs and concert series are being held.

In Chicago, BP featured the city’s largest baseball at the Taste of Chicago June 24th-26th. As the entire city focuses on the BP Crosstown Cup, the annual head-to-head interleague series between the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox, (part two of the series takes place Fri July 1st-Sunday July 3rd) fans visited the BP Crosstown Cup Fan Zone at the Taste of Chicago and made their mark on the 13-foot baseball.

They shared one “little thing” that makes Chicago baseball special to them.

Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox legends, Andre “the Hawk” Dawson and Ron Kittle also appeared at the BP Crosstown Cup Fan Zone.

Kittle currently works as a Chicago White Sox ambassador, and you can often hear his voice on radio advertisements during Sox game broadcasts.

By Paul M. Banks

“That’s the job title they gave me,” Kittle said.

“Marketing, PR, I get a chance to speak with kids at numerous schools, interact with everybody- like today we’re representing the BP Crosstown Cup and having fun.”

Kittle was both an American League All-Star and AL Rookie of the Year in 1983. Over his ten years of major league service, he played for the Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians in addition to his three separate stints with the Sox.

Kittle also hit 50 home runs in the minor leagues with the Edmonton Trappers and has his jersey retired in Edmonton at Telus Field.

I asked him how the addition of the trophy changed the dynamic of the Red Line Series rivalry.

“It’s just understood how good it is for the city to have this and for each side to come out and want to beat the other side,” he responded.

Kittle is probably most well-known for rooftop home runs (7, an MLB record) at old Comiskey Park; which was the home of the Sox from 1910–1990.

“Greg Luzinski hit three, I was the last one to hit it on the roof. Babe Ruth was the first. It’s a novelty item, you got to hit it 550 feet to get it up there, so it’s a good poke. I think only 23 people did it in 90 years of baseball there,” Kittle said.

I asked if he was awarded a trophy/plaque or other memento for this record.

“No, it’s all in fun. If a ball hits the top of the fence and goes over it’s a home run, and looks just as good as one hit on the roof,” he said.

If you’re wondering, the world record for a batted baseball belongs to Mickey Mantle, but there is much dispute over the exact distance, and which one of “The Mick’s” pokes traveled the farthest. Yesterday, the Phillies Jimmy Rollins attempted the record, but fell well short of 500 feet.

Today, Kittle also builds custom collectible benches out of baseballs, bats, and bases. You can learn more about those and read his blog at Ron Kittle.com

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports You can follow him on Twitter

 

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