Big Series, Big Homestand
Monday, July 25, 2011
Tigers In Town
Stating the obvious, tonight starts a big series with the Tigers — and a big 10-game homestand for the White Sox as Detroit is followed by Boston, the Sunday trade deadline and then the New York Yankees.
Looking forward to seeing everyone again tomorrow with our sixth (can you believe it) annual Blog Night. The program features gifts, prizes, Buddy Bell, Brooks Boyer and Ron Kittle. Tickets sold out this year — most ever — so I am really looking forward to seeing everyone. Gates open at 5:30 pm and the program starts at 6 p.m.
I was laughing today that I haven’t posted for awhile, that Vote Paulie campaign took a lot out of me, I have to admit, and I was warned that I might hear about it from the crowd tomorrow night. Be kind.
The past four days were terrific in providing a perspective on my job and the White Sox that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle of day-to-day life.
On Thursday, I attended a memorial service at the UC for Dr. Jim Nachtman (Dr. Nock), who passed away recently, suffering a heart attack during a cancer survivor rafting trip. I didn’t know Dr. Nock all that well, basically we had met and exchanged donation checks from Chicago White Sox Charities to his pediatric oncology center at UC each winter as part of Chicago Baseball Cancer Charities. But I knew him well enough to know that he was a genius, a character, that he loved life and loved his White Sox.
So as speaker after speaker talked about Dr. Nock, his life, his brilliance and the thousands of kids he literally saved, what hung from the podium at the UC’s Rockefeller Chapel? A White Sox jacket.
Here was a man who dedicated his life to saving kids and yet one of the most important things to him in his own life was being a White Sox fan.
As the ceremony ended, Christine O’Reilly, our tremendous senior director of community relations, leaned over to me.
“It would have been nice if every one of our employees could have been here,” she said. “What a great reminder of what the White Sox mean to people, of how important the White Sox are to so many fans.”
Friday, I had the opportunity to fly to Cooperstown with Jerry Reinsdorf, Dennis Gilbert, Howard Pizer, Christine and Nancy Nesnidal to see our friend Roland Hemond accept the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Buck O’Neill Award. What an honor!
Roland received his award on Saturday, and we all had a chance to congratulate him and his wife, Margo. The entire Hemond family came to Cooperstown to celebrate with one of baseball’s truly great gentlemen.
During his speech, Hemond recognized the six current GM’s who received their initiation into baseball under his watch, thanked Jerry and the White Sox for making him feel such a part of our family (even today) and told a touching story of his mother.
Mrs. Hemond spoke only French, but as the young man grew up in Rhode Island, Mrs. Hemond recognized his love for baseball, a game she little understood. She always shopped for clothes and other items at estate sales — Roland said he was often the best-dressed kid on his block growing up — and one day she came home with a gift for her son. It was a baseball glove.
“I don’t know where this will lead,” Roland remembers his mom telling him/asking him in French that day.
“Well, mom,” Roland said during his speech so many years later, voice cracking. “It led to the Buck O’Neill Award and the Hall of Fame.”
Too often in my job, I take moments like this for granted. I’ve been to Cooperstown and to the Hall of Fame many times. This time, I brought my dad. He is a huge fan of baseball and to see him experience a few firsts — flying on a private plane, meeting baseball people, walking the floors of the Hall of Fame and standing next to Ozzie Smith, Juan Marichal and other HOFers, made his weekend.
Seeing his enjoyment in the weekend’s festivities — the setting, the history, the Hall of Famers — reminded me once again of how lucky I am to find myself in these situations time and time again. I should never take any of these moments for granted. Every fan of this great game needs to come to at least one induction ceremony in Cooperstown. Maybe in 2014, we’ll all be celebrating another White Sox in the Hall?!
Roland will be in Chicago next week when we present the annual Roland Hemond Award. I look forward to again congratulate him on his great honor.