While three-time All-Star closer Liam Hendriks is an invaluable leader in the clubhouse, his efforts beyond baseball highlight an even greater dedication to driving positive social change. A tireless worker who leads by example, Hendriks’ South Slydah Society focuses on serving those most in need. It empowers selfless individuals and organizations and gives a voice to underrepresented communities. For the 33-year-old veteran pitcher, no task is too large or too small of an undertaking.
After donating nearly 1,400 meals from dozens of local, minority and family-owned small businesses to essential workers during the public health crisis, Liam looked to this season with even greater philanthropic aspirations. He researched causes where he could make the greatest impact and provide immediate assistance. Through this effort, he identified three key pillars for giving back in 2022.
The two-time reigning Mariano Rivera AL Reliever of the Year held an Opening Day event at a local children’s hospital, providing 300 patients, family members and healthcare workers with treats, White Sox gifts and special get-well messages. In July, he also supported a Ronald McDonald House party to ensure that more than 30 patients and families had their favorite ballpark food and ticket vouchers in celebration of the All-Star Game. On top of this, the 2021 finalist for the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award surprised a local woman battling ALS with a custom Permobil wheelchair. Michelle Gutierrez and her family were brought to tears as he welcomed her to the field alongside friends to autograph the life-changing wheelchair gift.
Closing out Military Appreciation Month, the Australian-born pitcher provided a fully catered lunch, White Sox hats and ticket vouchers to more than 130 U.S. servicemen and women and their families from Jesse Brown VA Medical Hospital and the USO of Illinois. Notably, he ensured the USO donation came from a local, veteran-owned restaurant to further support the troops. The Chicago Office of Emergency Management and 9-1-1 Center received a similar sentiment as Hendriks provided hundreds of White Sox ticket vouchers and blankets to 500+ call center workers before he and his wife greeted the staff in person. This followed a similar, 320+-person donation in 2021. Most recently, Liam helped welcome the All Secure Foundation to the ballpark, supporting its work to combat the military suicide epidemic with PTSD workshops.
Liam has celebrated his long-standing support of the LGBTQ+ community. He raised the Pride Flag at Guaranteed Rate Field for the second consecutive season and offered 1,500 South Slydah Society-branded Pride flags to fans attending White Sox Pride Night. He and his wife speak often about their allyship for the LGBTQ+ community, and alongside players’ significant others, welcomed teens from Howard Brown Health and Center on Halsted to a ballpark suite. The group painted sneakers for the upcoming Pride Parade, while Liam took to the field to greet LGBTQ+ community leaders.
The winner of the Dave Stewart Community Service Award, Liam also spoke out about gun violence following the mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Ill. He then planned two separate donations to Highland Park first responders, including personalizing messages and catering lunch to recognize the heroic work of three fire stations and a police station in the community.
The four-time Clemente Award nominee has a long history of adamant support for organizations focused on animal welfare, including Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation, One Tail at a Time, Fetching Tails Foundation, Mission K-9, the Petco Foundation and the Rescue Me Thursday campaign, where he lends time and resources whenever possible.
These thoughtfully planned efforts merely provide a snapshot of Liam’s giving. For as much time as he devotes to building upon the pillars of this South Slydah Society mission, Liam follows through with remarkable financial contributions. Time and time again, the White Sox organization finishes their community assisting at a Hendriks-led event, only to learn days later that he and his wife quietly wrote the organization a generous check to further assist their immediate needs. It’s not because it’s the easiest way to turn the page on involvement. It’s because he’s realized through hands-on work, this is what’s necessary to make a lasting impact for these groups.
Astonishingly, the couple shows no signs of slowing down. They furthered their promise to the community and built on these pillars to plan 22 events and donations. Whether creating an event framework to assist Ukrainian refugees, show appreciation for local students and teachers, or give back to ballpark staff, Hendriks’ South Slydah Society is on a path to touch the lives of anyone in need of a helping hand. And that path has only blazed a trail, inspiring teammates, the White Sox organization and the greater baseball community of what’s possible when someone uses their platform to make a difference.