On opening day we remember an Ambrosian who was the quintessential baseball (specifically, White Sox) fan. And the quintessential Ambrosian.
Norm Boccio '77 would have enjoyed the Chicago White Sox's roller-coaster 2012 season for all it was worth.
It would not have mattered to him that the Sox ultimately fell a few games shy of the playoffs after leading their division much of the year. After the Sox banked their first World Series win of his lifetime in 2005, Boccio deemed them champions for an eternity.
"He was just a loyal White Sox fan," said PJ Foley '01, '05 MOL, a fellow Sox follower and St. Ambrose director of government and community relations. "Norm always said, ‘It's not the Chicago White Sox. It's the world champion Chicago White Sox."'
Before Boccio died unexpectedly in his Glenview, Ill., home in October 2011, there was one thing he loved more than the White Sox: his alma mater.
That love was evidenced by a generous gift Boccio left in his estate. It will fund the Norman Boccio Endowed Scholarship Fund.
"He just loved the school," said Jim Boland '80, a fellow Chicagoland native who Boccio took under his wing in 1976. "He loved meeting the people who made up St. Ambrose. If you were at an alumni gathering, he always made a point to shake your hand, see how you were doing and see how St. Ambrose had shaped your life."
Edward Rogalski, PhD, St. Ambrose president emeritus, was dean of students when Boccio arrived. "He really had a great experience here and I think he found a home," Rogalski said.
As a student, Boccio bonded with a group of fellow Chicago area residents living in what is now Rohlman Hall. Rogalski even joined them on a bus trip from Davenport to the White Sox home opener one year. The Rohlman friends made attending opening day an annual tradition thereafter.
In 2001, Boccio began hosting White Sox Tailgate Parties for all SAU alums. That is a tradition friends like Boland, his wife Mary Ann (Malley) Boland '81 and Dan Williams '80 wanted to continue in Boccio's memory.
More than 50 SAU grads and their families gathered outside U.S. Cellular Field on Aug. 6. Among them was Boland's daughter Nikki Boland '12, one of several recent graduates who Jim Boland hopes will carry the tailgate tradition forward.
Before the first pitch of a 4-2 White Sox win, the assembled Ambrosians all raised a glass in memory of a man who dearly loved his Sox, but loved his Bees just a little bit more.