Day 3 of SoxFest: My Last Day in Chicago
All good things must come to an end.
Sunday was my last day in Chicago and it was the last day of SoxFest. I had a flight to catch at 3:59 PM CT — and with snow in the forecast — I made the arrangements to get to the airport early. My shuttle was set to pick me up at 12:30 PM, so I didn’t have too much time on Sunday — but I made the most of it.
I started out early on Sunday and made my way down to the lobby by 9 AM just in time for the SoxFest festivities to get going. With over three hours left of SoxFest for me, I made sure to hit as much as I could. It was also the first day I set up shop in the media room. I set up my laptop and then went on my way.
I made my way over to the #SoxSocial Lounge and finally took a photo with Aaron Rowand — the Sox Racer — not the real Aaron Rowand. After posting the photo I took with Joe Crede on Friday, I had many people tell me that I needed to take a photo with Rowand since we “looked alike”. I guess the facial hair had something to do with that comment, but still, I happily took the photo.
I spent most of the day in the #SoxSocial Lounge and just took it all in. Being that I handle all of the social media platforms for the Knights, I have to admit that I felt right at home in the lounge where Twitter was a big topic! Don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter @Tommy_the_V.
After leaving the #SoxSocial Lounge, I made my way around the Hilton. There were tons of fans on hand already and waiting for autographs.
At 9:00 AM on stage, fans had their pick of Zach Duke, Tim Anderson, Courtney Hawkins, David Robertson, Avisail Garcia, and Alexei Ramirez. Although I didn’t get a chance to talk to Tim or Courtney, it was nice to see fans so interested in them. Both are highly touted prospects in the system and both could make their way through Charlotte in the future.
Hawkins was Chicago’s first round pick (13th overall) in the 2012 draft. The Texas native, who recently earned an invite to White Sox Spring Training, has spent the last two full seasons with the Winston-Salem Dash. The 6’3″, 220 pound outfielder hit 19 home runs in back-to-back seasons for the Dash (2013-14). Hawkins is just 21 years old.
Anderson, also 21, was the first round pick of the White Sox out of the 2013 draft. A native of Alabama, Anderson made his way through the White Sox system last year and ended up in Double-A Birmingham. In 10 games with the Barons, he hit .364 (16-for-44). Before that, he hit .297 (85-for-286) with seven triples, six home runs, 31 RBIs, and 10 stolen bases in 68 games with Winston-Salem.
I continued walking around the Hilton and that was fun in itself. There were so many White Sox photos and banners hanging around. I noticed a large banner of former Charlotte Knights catcher and current White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers hanging, so I made sure to snap a photo of that. That banner was among a number of current White Sox players and I thought overall they were really well done.
I then began hearing some loud cheers and noticed a familiar face taking photos with fans. His name was not listed on the schedule, so it was a bit of a surprise to me to see him. It was none other than Charlotte Knights legend, 1993 IL MVP and MLB all-time great, Jim Thome.
I had an opportunity to meet Jim last year as he made two appearances at BB&T Ballpark and one at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown when the Knights played the IronPigs. He threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Knight, April 11, 2014 and came back to Uptown Charlotte later in the year to work with some Knights hitters.
I snapped a few photos of Jim on Sunday and moved on to the next stage. I’ll keep an eye out for Jim around BB&T Ballpark in 2015.
After seeing Jim interact with fans, I then saw another familiar face one more time before leaving SoxFest — Carlos Rodon. I interviewed Carlos on Friday during the media session and we spoke about the 2014 season, his expectations for 2015 and more. You can hear that interview and read more about him in my Knight Fever blog here: Carlos Rodon Interview. There is a big year in store for Carlos in 2015. Stay tuned.
Before I left, I spent some more time in the #SoxSocial Lounge. White Sox manager Robin Ventura was on stage for a fun interactive game with a fan. There was a huge crowd on hand to watch that.
After spending some time between the lounge and the media room, it was time to pack up and head back home. I finished my day 2 blog at 12:28 PM and ran to catch my 12:30 PM shuttle to the airport. In case you missed it, you can view that blog here.
When I got into the shuttle (and braved the snowy conditions on my way to the airport), I took a moment to reflect on the weekend. I learned so much about the White Sox organization and their diehard fans.
Thank you to the White Sox staff for the hospitality and making me feel at home on the South Side. It was so great to see first and hear all of the buzz of the 2015 Chicago White Sox. Baseball season seems closer than ever. Pitchers and catchers report in less than a month, and Opening Knight will be here before you know it.
If ever there was a year to attend SoxFest, this was the year. Rick Hahn, Robin Ventura, and the White Sox have a very talented team on their hands. This team should be able to compete for a playoff spot. With a solid rotation, bullpen, and offensive and defensive lineup, the White Sox could be contenders for a long time.
As for me, I’m back in Uptown Charlotte preparing for the 2015 season. It’s going to be a busy, but amazing year. I can’t wait to start year two at BB&T Ballpark. It all begins on April 3rd when the White Sox come to Uptown. I hope to see you at the Knights Leadoff Luncheon and the game later that night.
As Hawk Harrelson says… “You can put it on the board… YEEEEESSSSS!”