A storybook ending for father and son

MLB.com essay winner takes dad to Game 1

CHICAGO -- Dennis Kunka thought that he had been given a wonderful early birthday present this past Tuesday when he found out his son, Dave, had been one of the few lucky Sox fans who scored a ticket to the World Series after tickets went on sale to the public.

It was the best news for a father who had watched his son grow up as a huge White Sox fan and knew exactly how much it would mean for Dave to be at the Sox first World Series game in his lifetime.

But an even better birthday surprise arrived on Wednesday, Dennis' actual birthday, when Dave received news that he had won two tickets to Game 1 of the World Series thanks to an essay he wrote for MLB.com about why he loved this White Sox team.

There was no doubt in Dave's mind whom he would take along with him -- the man that took him to so many Sox games as a child.

"I never thought I would be here to watch the first game of the World Series," said Dennis, 61, tears glistening in his eyes.

The entire opportunity came about as a stroke of luck when Dave came across the contest by accident. Not one to shy away from entering contests, Dave didn't think much when he sent in his essay about appreciating how the White Sox play as a team.

"I happened to be sitting up one night flipping through the Web site, which is something I do every day, when I saw the contest," said Dave, 35. "I thought, 'What the heck, why not put something together?' "

The result was winning a chance to take his dad to one of the biggest games in White Sox history. Sitting in the upper deck of U.S. Cellular Field on Saturday afternoon, Dave and his father watched everything that was going on around them. The two arrived early from their homes in Plainfield, Ill., and spent much of the first few hours soaking up as much of the environment as they could.

"It's amazing to see how excited everyone is for this game," Dave said. "People have been waiting so long for a game like this. It's just great to be a part of it."

When asked about what it meant to be able to share the day with his dad, Dave had to pause for a second to compose himself.

"It means so much to me," Dave said. "It's one of those moments you will never forget. I'm not a picture person, but I have probably taken more pictures with my camera in the past 45 minutes than I have in the past 20 years."

The excitement was heightened thanks to it being the first World Series game in 46 years for Chicago, but Dave said that both he and his father have enjoyed watching the team all year. In Dave's essay, he wrote that he got tickets for both of them to go to a game on Father's Day this year. It was the first time that the two of them had gone to a game together in over 10 years. Dave also wrote about how they used to go to games thanks to free vouchers he received for getting straight A's.

As lifelong Sox fans, the two have always followed the Chicago teams, but there is something about this year's team that added a little more fun to being a fan of the South Siders.

"They are the epitome of a good team. All 25 guys doing their part and it sounds cliche to say it but that's why they've done so well," Dave said.

"Just like my '59 Sox," added Dennis, with a smile.

Saturday's game was just one of the many memories that the father and son have shared with the White Sox, but the two are hoping that another event like this will come about in the near future so that another generation of the Kunka family can also participate. Dave hopes to be able to share this type of experience with his own son, 8-month-old Brady, when he gets a little older.

"He can't talk yet, but he's already a Sox fan," Dave said with a laugh. "He won't have a choice, he's pretty much locked in to be one."

Like father, like son.

Kelly Thesier is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.