SOX PARK — Jim McKeever is a White Sox Opening Day iron man. When he takes his seat at Sox Park on Tuesday, it will be his 40th consecutive Sox home opener.
Nothing’s gotten in his way over four decades — not even four bouts of cancer. He even rescheduled a chemo treatment three years ago to keep the streak alive. (His most recent scan came back all clear).
“There are some doctors who are very aware I’m a Sox fan,” said McKeever, a probation officer. “I’ll try to keep doing it as long as I can. And I’m bringing buses with me.”
McKeever, of Evergreen Park, packs 110-plus Southwest Side Sox fans into two buses every year. The Opening Day ritual includes Sox coozies, a souvenir foam wallet and “plenty of refreshments,” he said.
The buses are full of friends, family, participants in the South Side Irish Parade and the Knights of Columbus.
“It’s a great party. So you gotta read in the paper the next day what really happened at the game you missed,” McKeever said. “Opening Day is a sign of good things to come. It’s how I grew up.”
McKeever’s dad, James McKeever, died in 2010 and was “a phenomenal Sox trivia guy,” he said. Since 1982, the family has owned seats right behind the White Sox dugout, splitting the section with Billy Pierce’s envelope company.
“I had my 10th birthday party at the ballpark,” McKeever said. “First time I ever saw a streaker.”
The Sox stuck ever since.
“As a kid, I had to ask my dad if it’s okay to be a Cub Scout,” McKeever said. “Knowing I would be a Cub.”
Jim McKeever is chasing his father’s legacy decades later. James McKeever attended 52 consecutive White Sox Opening Day games.
“We do a toast every year for him,” Jim McKeever said. “It’s an honor to follow in his footsteps.”
He held back tears thinking about Opening Day in 2006, the year after the Sox won the World Series. His dad wasn’t able to be there for the occasion.
“Year after the World Series, watching those flags go up, that was just great,” McKeever said. “I get choked up thinking about it. We won the worlds, and we did it in four games.”
Back in the day, McKeever would rent a yellow school bus for him and his friends to meet up with his dad on Opening Day. Now, “my kids are on that bus,” McKeever said.
He doesn’t plan on pumping the brakes on baseball anytime soon.
“On Opening Day, you get to see what’s new out there. Focus on the baseball as much as you can,” McKeever said. “I’ll probably put on my Pudge jersey. If you see me, say hello. It’s a nice little event we got going.”
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