Palatine resident lives a White Sox dream
Longtime White Sox fan Ed Dougherty has been hearing the words "Play ball!" since he was a kid watching South Side favorites like Luis Aparicio and Nellie Fox.
Dougherty, 70, and a resident of Solstice Senior Living in Palatine, is now blind and thus can no longer see the team he loves. But before Wednesday's game between the Sox and Angels, he was on the field at Guaranteed Rate Field, uttering the two words that usher in every baseball game.
It was a dream come true for Dougherty, made possible through Solstice Senior Living's Livin' the Dream program.
"We try to make our residents' wishes come true. It's kind of like a bucket list program," said Tanya Hasman, executive director of the senior living facility.
Kyle Mitchell, Solstice Senior Living's business office director, arranged for Dougherty to announce "Play ball!" at the game. The White Sox provided 14 free tickets, along with hats and other fan gear.
Sitting in left field, Dougherty met up with his daughter Brittany Dougherty, a flight attendant who came in from Detroit.
Mitchell said Dougherty was brought onto the field at 12:30 p.m., where he hung out during pregame festivities. Then, after the ceremonial first pitch and the national anthem, the players ran out on the field to warm up before Dougherty was handed the microphone.
Dougherty learned to love the game growing up on Chicago's West Side, where he often played 16-inch softball. He recalls he and his classmates in Catholic grade school being taken to Sox games by nuns.
He eventually settled in Palatine while pursuing his career as a Teamster truck driver, often making deliveries for movie productions.
"I used to do a lot of runs back and forth to Los Angeles with different trucks with wardrobe," he said. He also hauled electrical equipment, lights and other production gear.
In Chicago, he made deliveries to sets for films including "Home Alone," "Backdraft" and "The Blues Brothers."
Being on the field Wednesday was much more intense than he expected.
"I was right there on the field with the players," he said. "They're all standing right next to me."
Although Dougherty, who went blind about 30 years ago, wasn't able to see, he was able to enjoy the sounds of the game.
"I listen to the crack of the bat," he said.
Just from the sound, he can tell the difference between a home run and a bunt. And he had no doubt after hearing Angels star Shohei Ohtani make contact on a long home run on Wednesday.
He gave credit to Mitchell from Solstice for making his dream a reality.
"He was the guy that arranged everything. He made a big impression on my life," he said.