The more White Sox fans goaded Dan Rohde on Sunday night, the more tightly he gripped the baseball.
The 19-year-old Cubs fan had just leaped higher than everyone else standing on Waveland Avenue to catch Derrek Lee's second-inning home run on one hop off the street.
"Throw it back, throw it back!" two guys decked out in White Sox pinstripes urged Rohde. "Let's make him throw it back."
The rowdy Sox fans never did.
In fact, for the most part, fans of the city's baseball teams saved their fireworks for the barbecues and were on their Sunday-best behavior during a 4th of July event when many in the area braced for the worst.
The last of the six games between the Cubs and Sox this season included vitriol without the violence, as fans from both sides came to the ballpark intent on inciting fun but not fisticuffs.
A cab driver in a Cubs hat, for example, taunted a few guys in Sox hats by waving a small broom outside his car window and saying, "Get ready for a sweep." In the front yard of a house on North Sheffield Avenue, a Cubs fan played a game of Ping-Pong against a Sox fan and nobody threw the paddle. Ronnie "Woo Woo" Wickers even spun a hula-hoop around his waist with a woman in a White Sox T-shirt.
Midway through the game, with the beer still flowing, neither a Chicago Police spokesman nor the Cubs reported any major incidents beyond the expected good-natured verbal jabs between loyal North Side and South Side followers.
Take Sox fan Bob Ranieri and his Cubs fan and older brother, Nick. Bob pushed John into the ballpark in a wheelchair with Bob wearing silver and black and Nick clad in a Cubbie blue.
"I'm tempted to knock him out of his chair if he starts talking too much Cub stuff," kidded Bob Ranieri, 57, a retired Chicago police officer.
"Look," added friend John Cacioppo, "I was so sure it'd be fine coming out here that I let them talk me into making my first trip to Wrigley Field since 1952. I think the crowd's going to be fine."
By most accounts, it was. A Chicago police spokesman said no additional patrol units were committed to the area, but Patty Purcell, who manages three buildings on Waveland Avenue, noticed increased visibility even without an increase in officers.
"There's definitely been a stronger police presence out here for some time," Purcell said.
Purcell stopped short of linking the stronger presence in the area to the deadly incident May 6 at the intersection of Clark and Addison, but several fans noted that shooting when referring to the unexpectedly good behavior of fans.
Several Sox fans also mentioned the recent beating of a husband and wife at U.S. Cellular Field during the Indians-White Sox series two weeks ago as a possible reason for fewer cross words at this Crosstown Classic.
Whatever motivated fans to mind their manners, it was noted as much as it was appreciated.
"I'm surprised at how well-controlled it is, but it's great," said Michael Kaufman, the former owner of Skybox on Waveland, who is a regular. "Maybe the 4th of July parties took something out of the fans by the time they got here, I don't know. There were a few too many Sox fans for my taste, though."
Sean Davis, the general manager of the Cubby Bear across the street from Wrigley Field, spent eight years managing a bar in Boston and called the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry "a thousand times worse" than the Cubs-Sox in terms of rudeness. Davis even wondered whether the bantering he overheard this weekend matched the fervor of the Cubs-Cardinals series last month.
"I would even use the word tame," Davis said. "I can only think of one time I was really worried."
That came Saturday at the end of a long rain delay, when a group of Cubs fans started taunting Sox fans with chants of "Sweep, sweep, sweep." Some familiar insults as old as the stadium bricks ensued, and Davis was sure the men would come to blows.
"But then something happened, and I heard them talking about seeing each other in the World Series," Davis said. "Next thing I know, they're hugging."