White Sox to take stage at Wild Pitches fundraiser
Chicago players to showcase off-field talents in charity show at Bub City
White Sox fans are accustomed to seeing Paul Konerko's talent at first base, but seeing him on his guitar is a rare treat. The captain will be picking and strumming his six-string to accompany his wife, Jennifer, singing at the second annual Wild Pitches, a charity event held at Bub City on Sunday evening, July 20, to raise money for White Sox Charities and the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana.
Other players performing music and comedy alongside the captain and Jennifer are Gordon and Brittany Beckham, Chris and Brianne Sale, Adam and Katie Eaton, Tyler and Nancy Flowers, and Nate and Lacy Jones. White Sox manager Robin Ventura and his wife, Stephanie, are participating in the event as well. There is also a special surprise planned for Konerko, who is in his final year playing for the White Sox.
"We will be bringing back some the favorite segments from last year, plus adding some new ones and making it more interactive for fans attending," said comedian Pat McGann, who will return as host. "The Newlywed Game was a big hit last year; totally unscripted off-the-cuff comments coming from the players and their wives, which was a little revealing and quite hysterical."
Gordon Beckham is always counted on to perform his hilarious impression of Jake Peavy plus any new impressions in his repertoire.
As for comedy, White Sox fans have heard about the dry wit and humor of Ventura, which takes place behind the scenes. This is a chance for fans to see that side of the White Sox skipper in a completely relaxed setting. Last year, some of the most critical comments about Robin were pulled off the web and given to him to read and provide his response.
"That was absolutely hilarious and we will bring that back again this year," said McGann, who grew up in the Beverly neighborhood as a White Sox fan, beginning with the 1983 Winning Ugly team. "This is when you get to see Robin's wry sense of humor. He had a lot of fun with that."
To make it more interactive, fans will be brought into some of the on-stage games with "Finish that Line" (of the song) or lip syncing to a song. Also, this year there will be more of an emphasis on country-western music, because that's what most of the players enjoy.
"I have done a lot of events over the years and this is by far the most fun fundraiser I have ever attended," said White Sox senior director of community relations Christine O'Reilly, who grew up on the South Side and has worked for the White Sox for 32 years. "It truly shows the players in a different light, which the fans normally don't get to see. They are with their wives, dressed in street clothes. You see the camaraderie they share with their teammates. It's an interesting event and exposes the human side of the players, a bit of vulnerability."
The concept for Wild Pitches came from a meeting in Spring Training last year with the White Sox wives, who suggested a different kind of fundraiser: a variety show.
"They were really excited about the idea and were saying how their husband can sing, dance or do karaoke," said O'Reilly. "They really drove this idea and made it a great success."
Wild Pitches will begin at 6 p.m. CT with cocktails, southern-style hors d'oeuvres and a live and silent auction, while White Sox players mingle with fans. In addition, the popular rock cover band RENDITION will perform.
Tickets to this adult-only, non-autograph charity event are sold out.
John Ruane is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.