Sunday, January 31, 2016
Stage 1 – Salon D – sponsored by WGN-TV
9:00 a.m. – Tom Paciorek & Mike Squires – First 175 Autographs
11:00 a.m. – Carson Fulmer & Nate Jones – First 175 Autographs
1:00 p.m. – Carlos May & Jacob May – First 175 Autographs
Stage 2 – Salon C – sponsored by Comcast SportsNet
9:00 a.m. – Alex Avila & Erik Johnson – First 125 Autographs
11:00 a.m. – Carl Everett & Willie Harris – First 250 Autographs
1:30 p.m. – Jose Contreras – First 250 Autographs
Stage 3 – Salon C – sponsored by Miller Lite
9:00 a.m. – Avisail Garcia – First 250 Autographs
11:00 a.m. – Chet Lemon – First 250 Autographs
1:30 p.m. – Zach Putnam & Daniel Webb – First 250 Autographs
Stage 4 – Salon C
9:00 a.m. – Melky Cabrera – First 250 Autographs
11:00 a.m. – Jose Abreu – PRIVATE SESSION PREMIUM UPGRADE
1:00 p.m. – Adam Engel, Ron Kittle & Trey Michalczewski – First 250 Autographs
Stage 5 – Salon B – sponsored by Hilton Chicago
9:00 a.m. – Chris Sale – First 100 Autographs
10:30 a.m. – Harold Baines & Kirk McCaskill – First 125 Autographs
12:00 p.m. – Eddy Alvarez & Tim Anderson – First 125 Autographs
Photo Stage 1 – Salon D – sponsored by Beggars Pizza
9:30 a.m. – Nate Jones – First 125 Photos
11:00 a.m. – Avisail Garcia – First 125 Photos
12:30 p.m. – Tyler Saladino – First 100 Photos
1:30 p.m. – Kirk McCaskill – First 100 Photos
Photo Stage 2 – Salon B
9:30 a.m. – Willie Harris with the 2005 World Series Trophy – First 125 Photos
11:00 a.m. – Jose Contreras with the 2005 World Series Trophy – First 125 Photos
1:00 p.m. – Tom Paciorek – First 100 Photos
2:00 p.m. – Carl Everett with the 2005 World Series Trophy – First 125 Photos
Kids Only (ages 3-14)
Autographs – Salon A – sponsored by Comcast SportsNet
11:00 a.m. – Robin Ventura – First 100 Autographs
12:00 p.m. – Don Cooper & Todd Steverson – First 100 Autographs
1:30 p.m. – Tyler Saladino – First 100 Autographs
Photos – Salon A – sponsored by Comcast SportsNet
10:00 a.m. – Jose Abreu – First 100 Photos
Little Sluggers Field – Salon A
9:45 a.m. – Stretching with Southpaw
10:00 a.m. – Robin Says with Robin Ventura
11:00 a.m. – Fielding Clinic with Carlos May & Jacob May
12:00 p.m. – Hitting Clinic with Ron Kittle
1:00 p.m. – Pitching Clinic with Carson Fulmer & Zach Putnam
2:00 p.m. – Conditoning Clinic with Allen Thomas
10:00 – 10:45 a.m. – The White Sox Farm System – Phil Rogers with Buddy Bell, Nick Capra & Nick Hostetler
11:00 – 11:45 a.m. – The Training Room: Keeping World Class Athletes in the Game – Ed Farmer with Herm Schneider & Allen Thomas
12:00 – 12:45 p.m. – Sox Style: A Look Back at White Sox Uniforms and the Men Who Wore Them – Connor McKnight with Harold Baines, Ed Farmer, Carlos May & Tom Paciorek
1:00 – 1:45 p.m. – Chess Game on the Mound – Jason Benetti with Don Cooper, Erik Johnson, Nate Jones & Dioner Navarro
2:00 – 2:45 p.m. – Down on the Farm – Jason Benetti with Eddy Alvarez, Tim Anderson & Carson Fulmer
Day 2 Review
Kids Only Press Conference
One of the highlights of this year’s SoxFest was yesterday’s Kids Only Press Conference which saw youngsters from the age of five and up enjoy the unique opportunity to pose questions to three of their Sox heroes–Chris Sale, Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton. WMAQ’s Zoraida Sambolin served as both the moderator and interpreter for Jose.
So, what did we learn from the kids’ questions? You might be surprised at all the interesting nuggets that came out of the session.
We learned the following about Sale…
* The day that Chris was drafted by the Sox he was excited because it was his dream to pitch in the major leagues. He was surrounded by family and friends–and food.
* Sale’s greatest influence was his Dad, who had him playing baseball when he was practically in diapers and built a mound in the backyard.
* Sale talked about setting the franchise record for single-season strikeouts in 2015. He said he’s not big on stats, but it was exciting to go through the entire process and to see how electric the ballpark was. Chris said whenever something monumental like that happens, he goes back to when he was a kid and dreaming about making it to the majors. He said he appreciates it, but there’s more work for him to do.
* Answering a question from a youngster who changed his number from 22 to Sale’s 49 after seeing him pitch, Chris told him not to throw the curve ball at a young age even though his friends are doing it. He told the young man to just have fun because it’s “the funnest time you’ll have in baseball.”
* When asked what he’d be doing if he weren’t playing baseball, Sale said “I kind of threw my eggs in one basket, but I would be a one-man traveling Karaoke singer.”
* Chris admitted that he gets nervous before every game. He said it’s like right before you get married or take a test. You’re prepared, but always a little bit nervous.
* Sale’s favorite pitcher growing up was Randy Johnson. “I learned a lot from him, one pitch into a game or 120 pitches into the game, he had no intention of letting anything bad happen. Whether things were good, bad or it was Game 7, he was the same guy.”
* In addressing the Sox’ need to add to their current roster, Chris said that too much attention is paid to names and stats. It’s more important, he said, to have good team chemistry and putting the right pieces together with everyone having the same goal in mind.
* Chris said that pitching and defense wins games and if the Sox score three runs when he’s on the mound “we should win. If not, it’s my fault.”
* Sale told the youngsters that he gets excited, never scared, about facing the best players. “My gears get going facing (Miguel) Cabrera and (Mike) Trout. You find out what you’re made of. You can’t be the best without beating the best.”
* “When we win,” Chris said. “The music is playing, we’re having a good time in the clubhouse, joking, we usually have a ceremony. When we lose not so much.”
Here is the inside info we learned about Abreu…
* Jose’s greatest influence is his mother. When he was playing ball in Cuba, he asked his Mom to choose his number. That’s why he wears No. 79.
* Abreu talked emotionally about how difficult it was leaving Cuba and his son, but he left to play in the United States to make his mother proud. He also spoke about how grateful he is to MLB and the White Sox for helping him make the trip to Cuba during the offseason and to reunite with his son. Now back in the States, he admitted that when little ones are around he misses his son more.
* Asked what he would be doing if he wasn’t playing baseball, Jose said he would “attempt” to play soccer and even though he’s not that good, he would try.
* What was Abreu’s greatest home run? He answered, “the birth of my son.”
* Talking about the 2016 White Sox, Jose said he’s very confident. He didn’t promise the playoffs, but vowed to work hard to give the fans what they deserve.
* Abreu was asked who his best friend is on the team. Even though Eaton playfully raised his hand, Jose said, “all the guys are my best friends.”
* In answer to a youngster’s question about winning and losing, Abreu explained, “When we win we’re happy, when we lose it’s a very sad situation and we go home upset.”
Eaton? Let’s look at what we found out…
* Adam put together a neighborhood baseball league for a short time with his friends. His Mom even sang the National Anthem before the games.
* Eaton said that the greatest influence in his life has been his father, who knew he was going to be short and taught him to play to compensate for the lack of height with speed, etc. “Credit goes to him.” Players that have inspired Adam are former major leaguer Kenny Lofton, who once played for the Sox, and Hall of Fame legend Yogi Berra. Lofton because he played for the Indians, the Ohio native’s favorite team growing up and the fact he wore chains and cool Nikes. Yogi because of his small physical stature and his 10 World Series rings–the ultimate winner.
* Adam on the 2016 Sox: “I like the roster we have. We’ve got tremendous baseball players and better people. If we jell as a team we’ll be just fine. It boils down to getting the job done.”
* Like Sale and Abreu, Adam was asked what he would be doing if he wasn’t playing baseball. “I would love to be an occupational therapist, working with people who are learning motor skills.”
* Adam’s favorite retired players are Lofton and Jim Thome.
* Eaton on playing video games: “I played Sega Starfox in high school and today I like Call of Duty.
* Adam’s favorite hobby is fishing. “It’s nice to be able to throw a line in, relax and unwind.”
* A youngster asked Eaton who would he most like to high-five, Adam replied, “You.” And then he called the youngster to the stage.
* Adam: “Winning is like celebrating everyone’s birthday.”
* Eaton playfully talking about new teammate Todd Frazier: “He’s definitely an East Coast guy, I feel like I’m talking to the Mafia.”
World Series Memories
Sitting behind the 2005 World Series Trophy, White Sox World Champions Willie Harris, Jose Contreras and Carl Everett talked about the Sox championship season and took questions from the fans. Sox public address announcer Gene Honda served as the moderator.
Everett talked about how the ’05 team was underrated and as a group stuck together no matter what. He added that no one person ran the clubhouse–“we were all in it for each other.”
Contreras, who said Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez was his closest confidant, pointed out that the biggest reason the Sox won is that they were a close, united team.
Harris, who said he learned a lot from Everett and went to him if he had issues, said Carl added a fire to the team. Willie also added that manager Ozzie Guillen kept the team loose and pointed out that everybody on the team was influential, but Ozzie drove the truck well. When the Sox were losing and heads were down, the skipper did a lot.
Harris, a reserve player who entered the game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter, singled and scored the winning (and only) run in the decisive Game 4 of the 2005 Series, talked about the moment.
“I was sitting on the bench for eight innings, watching the ballgame. Ozzie said, ‘Willie, you ready?’ and I told him, ‘You want to win, put Willie in.’ I had no idea what would happen. I was scared as hell. I knew I wasn’t going to give my bat away, I’m going to give it all I got. I also got the support from everybody, everybody on the roster was as important as Paul Konerko and Mark Buehrle. You’re more comfortable because you know they’re there for you.”
Well, the rest is history. Willie scored on Jermaine Dye‘s base hit to give the Sox a 1-0 victory and a World Series title.
Harris is back in the organization as a minor-league hitting coach.
Family Feud White Sox Style: Old School vs. New School
The White Sox played Family Feud during one of the seminars yesterday, pitting the Old School Sox (Tom Paciorek, Ron Kittle, Mike Squires and Darrin Jackson and a fan chosen from the audience) vs. the New School Sox (represented by Dan Jennings, Zach Putnam, Avi Garcia, a fan and WGN’s Pat Tomasulo). Chicago comedian Pat McGann played the host role.
For the record, the New School Sox were the winners.
Memories of 1993
Bo Jackson and righty pitcher Kirk McCaskill presided over a seminar with WGN’s Rich King and talked primarily about the 1993 American League West Champions.
Bo said 1993 was “a fun year with everybody enjoying baseball and the South Side was happy.” Kirk said the Sox were a great team and thought they were going to beat the Blue Jays, but it never happened. McCaskill also talked about all the characters on that team and that for five years after he left he still heard teammate Ozzie’s voice.
Kirk, who went on record saying that “Bo is the greatest athlete who ever walked on this planet” also talked about his own ping-pong prowess, having the distinction of beating both Bo and Michael Jordan. McCaskill also was surprised by someone in the audience who asked about that talent. As it turned out that questioner was none other than Robin Ventura, who was Kirk’s teammate with the Sox.
Bo also addressed his rehab after a hip replacement:
“Rehabbing wasn’t hard. I pride myself on being mentally tough. It bothered me the first two months and it was annoying to listen to people saying I’m done. But I’ve always had the mindset that I never allow someone to tell me what I can’t or can’t do. Getting back to playing was easy. I just wasn’t the fastest guy on the field anymore.”
Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, the greatest hitter in Sox franchise history, answered questions at a seminar with Hawk Harrelson moderating.
What did we hear from Frank?
* Harrelson said Thomas could do everything on a baseball field except throw. “Know your role,” Big Hurt replied with a laugh. “I was here to hit.”
* A native of Columbus, Georgia, Frank said he was an Atlanta Braves and rooted for Brave players Dale Murphy, who stood out to him, Bob Horner and of course Hank Aaron. He was also a Dave Winfield fan.
*The toughest pitchers The Big Hurt faced in his career were Jeff Nelson, Randy Johnson when he was at the top of his game and Pedro Martinez.
* His thoughts on being a Hall of Famer: “It’s a humbling feeling. It’s the first thing people say when they see you: ‘You’re a Hall of Famer.’
It’s important to note that Frank is now a special assistant to the corporate side of the Sox business operation.
SoxFest Day 2 Photos of the Day
It was another day of fun activity at SoxFest. Here’s a sampling: Fun and games at Southpaw’s Suite; prospect Eddy Alvarez and Tyler Saladino conduct a kids clinic; a young fan takes a selfie with John Danks; Sox fans look for bargains at the Garage Sale; and never estimate the loyalty of White Sox fans as this bride and groom make a stop on their way to their honeymoon.