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White Sox proud to host Stars

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CHICAGO — The Chicago White Sox haven't won a World Series since 1917, haven't been to one since 1959 and are 0-for-3 in their only playoff appearances since then.

They're constantly overshadowed by their North Side neighbors, even when they're winning. The claims to fame they do have — the Black Sox scandal, Disco Demolition Night, unruly fans on the field — are ones they'd much rather forget.

But every once in a while, the long-suffering White Sox catch a break.

And this week is one of those times.

"I'm very proud, very happy," White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said. "I'm just so proud to be part of calling worldwide attention to Chicago and what a great city Chicago is, because the exposure that our city is going to get is going to be tremendous."

Not to mention the White Sox. For the next two days, all of baseball's attention will be on the South Siders, hosts of this year's All-Star game.

Tuesday night's game will be broadcast in 200 countries. Thousands of fans from across the country are in Chicago for the game, many of whom will be seeing U.S. Cellular Field for the first time. It's a rare opportunity for the White Sox to tout their franchise without anyone else getting in the way.

"It's an opportunity for them to showcase all the great things that they have going on with their franchise and at their ballpark," said Tim Brosnan, baseball's executive vice president for business.

"It's a showcase to the world that maybe they haven't otherwise had the opportunity to take advantage of."

One of the original American League teams, the White Sox have been a fixture on Chicago's South Side since 1900. Hall of Famers such as Nellie Fox, Luke Appling, Hoyt Wilhelm and Carlton Fisk once wore the White Sox uniform, as did Minnie Minoso and Jack McDowell.

The White Sox won their first pennant in 1900, and beat the crosstown Cubs in 1906 to win the first of two World Series titles. The second came in 1917.

Two years later, the White Sox lost to Cincinnati in the 1919 World Series, touching off a scandal that haunts the franchise — and baseball — to this day. Shoeless Joe Jackson and seven other players were suspended for throwing the World Series.

Though a jury found them innocent, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis banned them from baseball for life.

The White Sox have some history with the All-Star game. The first was played at old Comiskey Park in 1933, and this is the fourth time the White Sox are hosting the midsummer classic.

"White Sox fans are very passionate about their team and about their league," Reinsdorf said. "They've just been so excited over the last year, anticipating this event."

This is the first time the White Sox have hosted the All-Star game since 1983, and much has changed since then. Back then, the teams, not baseball, were responsible for putting on the event.

There was no Home Run Derby, no celebrity softball game, no FanFest. The White Sox added an old-timers' game and had a gala, but the party was nowhere near the scale it is today.

"Essentially, it consisted of a ballgame," Reinsdorf said. "It was a much, much simpler thing to do, and you didn't have the worldwide focus."

Probably a good thing, considering the trouble Reinsdorf got in. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn fined Reinsdorf and White Sox partner Eddie Einhorn $5,000 for poking fun at George Steinbrenner during a stand-up act at the party the night before the game.

"I don't think that I'm going to reprise my performance of 20 years ago," Reinsdorf said.

Instead, he will be more than happy to let his franchise be the center of attention.

Harold Baines, one of eight former White Sox players to have his number retired by the club, likes the attention the team is getting.

"Whatever positive you can get for your team and for your city," Baines said, "is great."