Loretta Micele had begun working concessions for the Chicago White Sox in 1945, at the old Comiskey Park. She was still working in 2005, 60 years later, long after the White Sox had a new stadium. The Chisox were in the World Series that year, and before the first game, a shocked Loretta, then 85, was brought onto the field as the team saluted her long service to the team. She was told that a section of tables and seats next to the stand down the third base line where she sold and handed out hot dogs and Cokes would be named “Loretta’s Lounge” in her honor. Loretta was cheered by the full stadium ,a blew kisses to the crowd. It was a glorious day.
The grandmother of 25 and loyal White Sox fan and employee is gone now, but “Loretta’s Lounge” gives a little bit of immortality to her and, by extension, to the many anonymous workers who make baseball teams and every other organization thrive, if it is to thrive at all.
Did I say “gives”? No, the right term is “gave.” When the White Sox brought Hall of Fame manager Tony LaRussa out of retirement last year to manage the team, it renamed the area “LaRussa’s Lounge.”
The move stinks of ingratitude and callousness. Tony LaRussa has received too many honors, awards and accolades to count; he’s a public figure, and an important one in the history of baseball. It’s fair to assume that he couldn’t care less about having a section of U.S. Cellular Field—what an awful name for a ballpark—where people slurp sodas and spill mustard named after him. To Loretta’s family, however, and all the park employees she represented, having her name memorialized was a big deal.
The White Sox say there will soon be a plaque to tell Loretta’s story. That’s nice, but there should be a plaque in Loretta’s Lounge, not Tony’s. I have to think this happened because some dolt noticed that “LaRussa’s Lounge” alliterated just like “Loretta’s Lounge” did,and that’s all it took to erase Loretta Micele’s memory from Chicago baseball. This is how little injustice and ethics breaches like this usually occur…carelessness and inattention.
Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe Loretta once said something nice about Robert E. Lee, or one of her ancestors was a slave owner. Then, of course, a lounge named after her would make African-America fans feel unsafe and insulted, so shameless activists would claim.
I wonder: Would erasing the memory of Loretta Micele for that ( stupid, unfair) reason be better or worse than doing for no reason at all?
Pointer: Craig Calcattera