I was offered tickets to today’s White Sox game, and I’m usually a get there an hour before first pitch kind of guy, but I was on the fence today. I decided against it, but some fans did not, and they made the trek to the ballpark only to find out about 45 minutes before the scheduled 1:10 first pitch that the game was canceled due to multiple positive COVID-19 tests in the Guardians clubhouse. That’s pretty disappointing and frustrating.
However, today’s starting pitcher, Vince Velasquez, did what he could to ease the disappointment and frustration of some lucky fans who got to chat with a major leaguer and likely get an autograph. Joe Ruffalo, a photographer who contributes to Sox on 35th, snapped a photo of Velasquez hanging with some fans after the game had been called.
#WhiteSox postpone today’s game due to multiple positive COVID-19 tests within the #Guardians clubhouse. Pitcher Vince Velasquez remains the last active player on the field, taking time to chat and talk with young fans and players. Class act. pic.twitter.com/CiO4Aglnnt
— Joe Ruffalo (@jruff96) May 11, 2022
Ruffalo tweeted that Velasquez was the last remaining player on the field and that not only did he hang out with some fans, but he also purchased some White Sox Charites 50-50 raffle tickets from a vendor lingering in the stands.
Velasquez is in his first season with the White Sox after spending eight seasons with the Astros, Phillies, and Padres before signing a one-year deal with Chicago in the post-lockout free agency period.
Interaction with a player is the dream for kids who attend baseball games. It doesn’t matter which player it is. I remember taking my kids to a game in 2019, where Lucas Giolito was starting against the Royals. He flipped a ball to my daughter, who was hanging over the bullpen railing in section 157 that afternoon, desperately looking for some interaction with a player. Former White Sox pitcher Manny Bañuelos also autographed a ball and gave it to my son. Bullpen coach Curt Hasler even loaded them up with bubble gum from the bullpen stash.
They’ll never forget that afternoon. They won’t remember that game for Tim Anderson’s infamous home run and bat flip or the fireworks that ensued near first base after being hit by a pitch his next time up. But they’ll never forget the pre-game interaction they had with the players.
Vince Velasquez just had that lasting impression on a group of youth, and while it’s frustrating that they won’t get to see a ballgame today, they’ll simply remember the time they got to spend chatting it up with a major leaguer on their favorite team.