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Journey Past & Present With The White Sox

 
BY MARK BROWN SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST

As Chicago geared up Wednesday to celebrate up and down the boulevards -- and on the side streets, too -- a native son who grew up taking the midnight "L" train everywhere relished his role in helping create the anthem for the White Sox 2005 championship run.

Jonathan Friga was just a city guy who grew up at Homan and Augusta before his father, a devoted White Sox fan, moved the family to Schiller Park.

But it was under his adopted stage name, Jonathan Cain, that the keyboardist-songwriter for Journey co-wrote "Don't Stop Believin," the 1981 hit that Sox players embraced as a theme song during their drive to the pennant.

"I was so stoked about the game last night. It was a real cool thing for me," Cain said Wednesday from his Marin County, Calif., home, referring to the 14-inning Game Three marathon pulled out by the Sox, the time difference giving West Coast viewers like him an advantage over the sleep-deprived fans in his hometown.

If there is any final resistance to Sox fans embracing "Don't Stop Believin," Cain's Chicago credentials should wipe it away.

He's a survivor of the 1958 fire at Our Lady of Angels School that killed 92 of his fellow students and three nuns. He spent the summers of his youth creating "rooster tails" with illegally opened fire hydrants, playing his accordion for Friday night concerts at the Italian deli in the old neighborhood and visiting both Chicago ballparks. His late father, Leonard, who worked as a printer, took him to a Sox game in the thick of the 1959 pennant race.

Can't stop lovin' both teams

Cain played plenty of baseball himself, sticking with it all the way through Colt League during his high school years at East Leyden. And while it would make a better story to definitively classify him as a Sox fan -- or even a Cubs fan -- he swears he grew up cheering for both teams and never saw a need to swear allegiance to only one.

"I'm just one of those guys who loves both teams," Cain said.

It's reassuring somehow to know there is a real Chicago connection behind the song that for the past few weeks has filled the key interludes at U.S. Cellular Field.

While all the attention has been on former Journey vocalist Steve Perry, who even joined the team for the World Series in Houston, in Cain we have a guy who can relate to the city's baseball frustration.

Cain said his Chicago friends saw Perry at the game on TV and called to tell him he should be there instead. But fresh from a 60-city tour with Journey during which he was hospitalized at one point for an emergency appendectomy, the 55-year-Cain says he's content watching the game at home with his own family and trading late-night calls with his brothers to discuss the action.

"As much as I'd like to be there, it's almost good that Steve's there," Cain said of Perry, who left Journey for good in 1996.

Cain said he's "probably the sports nut of the band," which has hung with many professional athletes over the years. Then-Sox manager Tony LaRussa became one of Journey's "huge fans" after a 1982 concert at the Rosemont Horizon, Cain said.

Remembers Sox on UHF

Cain said he still has fond memories of his father, beer in hand, watching Sox games on UHF with reception so poor that "it looked like it was snowing all the time."

Although he supported both teams, Cain says he probably made it to Wrigley Field more often because it was easier to get there.

"We'd play hooky because Willie Mays was coming to town," said Cain, who still remembers seeing Mays run down a fly ball, Hoyt Wilhelm throw his knuckleball and Ted Kluszewski hit a home run over the right field roof at Comiskey Park.

"I always thought it was great to have two major league baseball teams in our town," he said. "I was surprised when I went to Wrigleyville and saw the T-shirts that say 'The Sox Suck.' I thought it was kind of weird."

That was during a concert tour when Journey sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" for the seventh inning stretch at Wrigley, which Cain doesn't see as detracting from his Sox devotion.

'Enough about the roof'

Proving that he's up to speed on the Series, Cain voiced exasperation with the debate over the Astros not being allowed to close the roof on Minute Maid Park.

"Enough about the roof. Just play the game. This is the silliest thing I ever heard," he said.

Cain, who attended Roosevelt University's music conservatory, said "Don't Stop Believin" was a collaboration with Perry and guitarist Neal Schon, but originated with him writing the chorus: "Don't stop believin, Hold on to that feeling . . ."

"We wrote the song from my chorus backward," he said. "It was very spontaneous."

He thinks "Don't Stop Believin" is a good fit for the Sox. "It's about fans. It's about hope," he said.

Some will win. Some will lose. Some were born to sing the blues.

But it's more fun to be the winner every so often.

 

CHICAGO, IL, United States (UPI) -- White Sox players joined former Journey singer Steve Perry in a rousing rendition of 'Don`t Stop Believin`' celebrating Chicago`s 2005 World Series title.

Fans stood shoulder-to-shoulder at the corner of Wacker Drive and LaSalle Street cheering on their team that never relinquished first-place before an 11-1 playoff run ended with a 4-0 sweep of the Houston Astros Wednesday night.

First baseman Paul Konerko, a free agent with the end of the season, gave Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf the ball he caught for the final out -- ending an 88-year World Series victory drought for the Windy City.

Manager Ozzie Guillen, who won the series in his second year at the helm, announced he would return in 2006.

'I`ll tell you now -- I will be back next year. I love you,' Guillen told the jubilant crowd.

Hundreds of thousands lined streets from the South Side to downtown to see players in a caravan of open-air, double-decker buses motor from U.S. Cellular Field through Bridgeport, Bronzeville, Pilsen, Chinatown, Little Italy and Greektown, to a confetti and tickertape parade in the Loop.

'We never stopped believing,' read one sign.