Former White Sox pitcher Kevin Hickey dies at 56
Kevin Hickey, the White Sox' popular pregame instructor since 2004, passed away Wednesday morning at Rush University Medical Center.
He was 56.
Hickey had been unresponsive since April 5, when he was found in his room at the Sox' team hotel in Texas. The White Sox opened the regular season against the Rangers on April 6.
He was moved from Parkland Hospital in Dallas to Rush later in April, but his condition never changed. Hickey was recently moved into hospice care.
"Ask anyone in our clubhouse, every person here appreciated what Kevin did to help the White Sox win baseball games," Paul Konerko said in a statement released by the Sox. "No one wanted to win more, no one was more optimistic, no one cared more and no one took more pride in his job. He made all of us better."
Hickey was a vocal cheerleader in the dugout, and he pitched batting practice.
"Hick came to the park every single day ready to work and with a smile on his face," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "He will be sorely missed by us all."
Hickey was a major-league relief pitcher for six seasons. The Chicago native from the South Side pitched for the White Sox from 1981-83 and the Baltimore Orioles from 1989-91. A left-hander, Hickey was 5-8 with a 3.52 ERA and 14 saves in 124 games with the White Sox.
Hickey took an unusual path to the big leagues.
He attended St. Rita High School and Kelly High School, but did not play baseball. He started playing 16-inch softball after high school and went on to play semipro baseball with the Markham Cardinals.
Hickey later was invited to a tryout at Comiskey Park, and was the only one of 250 players to be signed by the White Sox.
Hickey pitched in the minor leagues for three seasons before debuting with the Sox on April 14, 1981. Here is a link to his all-time stats.
"Kevin Hickey was the ultimate longshot, the classic underdog," said former White Sox general manager Roland Hemond, who signed Hickey in 1978. "You couldn't help but root for him. Kevin did the absolute most with every single opportunity he received and earned every bit of his success."
Hickey is survived by his partner in life, Anna D'Agata; five daughters: Samantha, Elizabeth, Kristen, Jessica and Sarah; three grandchildren; his mother, Kathleen; brothers, Jim and Tom; and sisters, Karen and Kathy.
Services are pending.
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