Having been a part of organized baseball since an early age, the concept of teamwork has been a part of my life for a very long time. I’ve seen firsthand the power of a unified group and how together a group can accomplish great things and succeed despite any obstacles. I also have seen how counter productive, and sometimes destructive, disunity can be to a common goal.
One early Saturday morning in May, members of my team, the Chicago White Sox, again reminded me of how together there is nothing we, as active members of our communities, cannot accomplish.
To better set the stage of what we, White Sox players and front office staff, and more than 300 members of the “White Sox Volunteer Corps,” did on that breezy day in May – I have to start with the creation of the Volunteer Corps.
During his campaign for the presidency, President Barack Obama challenged all of us, all Americans, to give more of ourselves in the form of service, to do more for our neighbors and to invest time in our communities. The White Sox took that challenge to heart and called on everyone involved with the organization – including myself, as a player; all front office staff, from sales personnel to groundskeepers; and most importantly, the fans – to “step up to the plate,” to use a baseball term. In honor of that challenge, on January 20, 2009 (Presidential Inauguration Day) the White Sox formed the White Sox Volunteer Corps.
The mission of the White Sox Volunteer Corps is to harness the collective power of the team, its players and its most valued asset, the fans, to serve the Chicagoland community. On Saturday, May 9th – that power was demonstrated on the South Side of Chicago. White Sox Volunteer Corps members came together just steps away from U.S. Cellular Field in the early hours of that crisp spring day to serve their community. Fans stood side-by-side with Chicago mayor Richard Daley, Illinois governor Patrick Quinn, along with my manager Ozzie Guillen and several of my coaches and fellow teammates.
That day we visited two local Boys & Girls Club locations, just blocks away from the ballpark, and went to work! Together, we restored two club locations. From cleaning to painting, to cutting and installing – we worked on making the two centers better, safer and more lively places for the children of our community. Each one of us, players and fans, took pride in our roles. And on that day, in the midst of all of the hard work of Volunteer Corps members, I could not get the old adage out of my head – “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” United there is nothing we, as Americans, cannot accomplish.
The Chicago White Sox have an organizational mantra – I see it on the wall every day as I walk into the ballpark – Passion, Pride and Tradition. As members of the team, we are asked to live by those principles. We’re expected to never take off a play and do everything with great passion. No matter whether we are winning or losing, we’re asked to always have pride in our work. And to always be mindful of those who came before us, honoring the tradition they started.
On May 9, 2009, the Volunteer Corps demonstrated those White Sox principles in living color on the South Side of Chicago. We showed the world that service is at the core of all of our spirits and that united we can accomplish anything.