White Sox donating jerseys to all Orland Youth Baseball Association players
BY JEFF VORVA Correspondent November 28, 2012 6:26PM
A sample of some of the various designs of White Sox jerseys that will be supplied by the team to all the players in several youth baseball leagues, including Orland Park's, next year. Photo supplied by the Chicago White Sox.
Updated: December 30, 2012 3:51PM
Orland Youth Association Baseball President Brian Gaspardo had been a lifelong Cubs fan.
In 2005, when the White Sox won the World Series, his friends tried to coax him to pull for the South Siders. He declined.
He said he’s had large groups of people at him over the years to try to turn him into a White Sox fan, but he refused.
Next summer, though, he’s going to wear a Sox jersey and hat with pride.
The Sox announced Wednesday they will outfit all coaches and players from four Chicago-area youth organizations in various styles of White Sox uniforms for the 2013 season, and provide the leagues with instructional videos featuring White Sox players and coaches.
The Orland association, which figures to have 840 players ages 5 to 15 during the 2013 season, will benefit from the new program along with leagues in Downers Grove, Elmhurst and Oak Park.
“I absolutely changed my perspective on the White Sox,” Gaspardo said. “For them to do something like this for us — I couldn’t be more excited and I can’t have too many nice things to say about them. I’m officially converted.”
Gaspardo, a former Thornwood High School baseball standout who also played at Harvard University, said he’s hoping a partnership such as this will keep more players learning at the recreation-league level.
“It’s going to save us a lot of money and put a charge into our rec league,” he said. “We’ve had a strong focus over the last four or five years to make our rec program a destination point and something the kids really want to be a part of.
“The landscape of kids baseball has changed — not necessarily for the better — with the travel programs,’’ he said. “We know and believe that a neighborhood program with kids playing with their buddies in their community is extremely important. It’s really the best place for them to learn and grow.”
White Sox spokesman Lou Hernandez said the Orland association has been a longtime supporter of the team over the years and has participated in group ticket nights at U.S. Cellular Field, and the team is showing its appreciation by forming the partnership.
“We’ve had a great relationship with Orland Park and the other three communities for a long time,” Hernandez said. “This is a way we can give back and support the development of the game in these communities.”
Brooks Boyer, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Sox, said in a news release the team actively supports youth baseball throughout the Chicago area.
“Our partnerships with local youth leagues are about much more than just providing caps and jerseys. They also are about helping young kids learn to play the game the right way, enjoy the game and create more players and fans of the game.”
As part of the program, the team will recognize a player from each league during every White Sox homestand by having the young athletes’ photos and names featured on the center field scoreboard.
Gaspardo, who will be coaching in the Pinto League in Orland, is looking forward to getting the relationship started with the South Siders.
“It’s a really big deal to us,” he said. “We worked hard to try to build up our league and this is a great way to do it. It’s important to us.”