Baseball: Former ThunderBolt Mike Recchia climbing White Sox ladder
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media July 20, 2014 7:20PM
Mike Recchia, of the ThunderBolts, wears Elvis sunglasses which were handed out to fans for Elvis night at Standard Bank Stadium, Saturday, August 11th, 2012 in Crestwood, IL. | Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 22, 2014 6:15AM
Former Windy City ThunderBolts pitcher Mike Recchia is making the most of his third chance.
Pitching in the White Sox organization, the Crestwood native who prepped at Shepard is 9-5 with a 2.87 ERA this season in 18 starts. The last 11 have come at Double-A Birmingham, where he was promoted after starting the season at High-A Winston-Salem.
“The season has gone better than planned,” Recchia said. “I’m still pitching the same as I always have. I have that ‘bulldog mentality.’ I throw strikes. I like to come at guys and challenge hitters. It’s been working for me.”
Recchia was signed by the New York Yankees after finishing his career at Eastern Illinois but was released despite good numbers in two seasons in their organization.
He came home and joined the T-Bolts for the 2012 campaign and turned in one of the greatest seasons in franchise history, going 11-3 with a 2.51 ERA and a Frontier League record 177 strikeouts in 1501/3 innings as he won the Brian Tollberg Award as the league’s top pitcher.
That impressed the Baltimore Orioles enough to sign him, but they released him in spring training before the 2013 season. After making five starts with the T-Bolts in 2013, the White Sox signed him on June 10 of last year.
It was a dream come true for the lifelong Sox fan.
“I’ve always been a Sox fan and I worked at U.S. Cellular Field when they won the World Series in 2005,” Recchia said. “My mom still works there. Being part of this organization is definitely special for me.”
Entering the organization out of independent ball as a 24-year-old — he’s 25 now — Recchia knew many people didn’t expect a ton out of him, but he’s already showed the ability to move up the minor league ranks.
“Coming in, I know a lot of people’s first thoughts were ‘He’s just an organization guy here to fill a spot,’ ” Recchia said. “I think I’ve shown I belong. The promotion (to Double A) was a big sign of respect.”
It’s been a whirlwind year for Recchia, whose wife, Ashley, gave birth to twins — Miles and Nora — just weeks before he was signed by the Sox.
“It’s been tough being away from them,” he said. “They all came down for a week to visit ... it was probably the best week of the season.”
If Recchia continues to succeed at Double A and climb the ladder, he knows his major league dream remains a possibility.
“If it happens, I feel like I can go up there and succeed,” he said. “I’ve overcome some adversity, and I think I’ve proven that you should never give up on your dreams.”
And if the day ever comes when Recchia pitches at U.S. Cellular Field, he already has a plan.
“I’m not going to tell my mom I got called up,” he said. “She’ll be working and hear my name over the PA and be like, ‘Oh, my God!’ ”