As he sat in a packed Angel Stadium of Anaheim on an October night, fans buzzing all around him, a young pitcher talked baseball with Robin Ventura.
Jon Savarise was all of about 11 years old.
The thrills got better in that 2005 baseball season for the son of White Sox senior vice president of stadium operations Terry Savarise.
About a week later, the White Sox, including former players like the current manager Ventura, celebrated the team’s first World Series championship since 1917 with a 1-0 victory over the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.
“I got to go on the field afterward, go in the clubhouse with all the champagne spraying and everything,” Jon Savarise said. “It was a lot of fun.”
No kidding, kid.
But the thrills got better still for Savarise, who’s no longer a kid.
A 6-foot-1, 205-pound left-handed pitcher/first baseman and 2012 graduate of Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Savarise was selected in the 33rd round of the recent Major League Baseball amateur draft by none other than his favorite White Sox.
“It was probably one of the best feelings I’ve ever had,” said Savarise, who calls himself a die-hard White Sox fan. “It was pretty much a dream come true.”
Living out the dream will have to wait, however. A couple of days after being drafted, Savarise gave a verbal commitment to Northern Illinois University, which recruited him to pitch.
“I know my parents wanted me to go to school, first,” Savarise said. “I don’t think they would have let me (sign a professional contract). It was very tempting, obviously, because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
So it’s off to DeKalb for the Lincolnshire resident, who played varsity baseball for Loyola Academy as a sophomore and junior before transferring to Stevenson, where this spring he earned honorable mention All-North Suburban Conference honors and helped the Patriots win 23 games and a regional title.
College baseball players are draft-eligible following their junior year.
“I had no idea I was going to be drafted, so that was really cool,” Savarise said. “I’m hoping to get better through college and then get drafted higher up in an earlier round maybe later … I did want to go to college first so it was a pretty easy decision.”
On the day he got drafted, just before he arrived home with a friend, Savarise said his mother, Tara, received a phone call from the White Sox saying they were going to draft her son.
“She ran and told me and started crying,” Savarise said. “We listened to the draft on the computer, and then they called my name.”
Dad no had idea he was about to receive an early Father’s Day present from his employer. “He was completely surprised by it,” Savarise said. “We were both pretty shocked.”
Being the son of a White Sox executive has afforded Savarise some great privileges. He has roamed the team clubhouse, met players and taken U.S. Cellular Field with his baseball glove on.
When the White Sox used to have spring training in Tucson, Ariz., he served as a bat boy for some exhibition games.
“He’s taken me (to U.S. Cellular Field) my whole life,” Savarise said of his father, a White Sox employee for more than 30 years. “I’ve grown up there. It’s another home to me.”
In 2005, Terry Savarise took his son on every road trip during the postseason. The only game Jon missed was Game 1 of the American League championship series, which happened to be the only game the White Sox lost during the playoffs.
“They were calling me the good-luck charm after awhile,” Savarise said with a laugh.
No wonder they drafted the talented lefty.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.