White Sox honor Chicago healthcare heroes during 2021 home opener

Chicago White Sox Charities Sox Split returns with $100,000 guaranteed jackpot

April 7th, 2021

CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox today announced highlights scheduled for the team’s home opener against Kansas City on Thursday, April 8 at 3:10 p.m. CT.

Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 2:20 p.m. for the following pregame ceremonies:

  • FordHealthcare Workers Take the Field” in partnership with Rush University Medical Center
  • Recognition of White Sox head groundskeeper Roger “The Sodfather” Bossard and his 55th White Sox Opening Day
  • Ceremonial first pitch by Joe Wikman who has worked for 18 years at Rush University Medical Center
  • Introduction of 2021 White Sox players, coaches, medical staff and personnel
  • Virtual National Anthem sung by Laine Hardy, country music artist and 2019 American Idol winner
  • American League MVP Award presentation to White Sox first baseman José Abreu

Recognizing the dedication of those on the frontlines of the healthcare industry, the White Sox will hold the Ford “Healthcare Workers Take the Field,” honoring nine healthcare workers from Rush University Medical Center by inviting each to take a position on the field during the pregame ceremony. The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown by Joe Wikman who has worked at Rush University Medical Center for 18 years.

White Sox head groundskeeper Roger Bossard celebrates his 55th White Sox Opening Day at the ballpark. In addition to his work with the White Sox, Bossard has designed and built major-league fields across the country, and his patented drainage and irrigation systems are used by 19 of the 30 major-league teams. His work carries on more than 250 years combined of family experience and a business that began more than three generations ago with his grandfather, Emil. Industry contemporaries praise his work ethic and expertise, aptly dubbing him “The Sodfather.” Bossard joined the White Sox in 1967 as an assistant to his father, Gene (head groundskeeper from 1940-83). 

Laine Hardy, country music artist and 2019 American Idol winner, will perform a virtual National Anthem. Headlining shows across the nation following his win, Hardy shifted his focus to a 2020 “Ground I Grew Up On” virtual tour, which has made more than 15 online stops to date, with views at 2 million and counting. Fans can listen to the Louisiana native’s new music releases, including single “Tiny Town” and tracks “Ground I Grew Up On” and “Let There Be Country.”

The White Sox also will recognize first baseman José Abreu by presenting him with his American League Most Valuable Player award. Last season, Abreu became the fourth player in White Sox history (fifth time) to earn the honor, joining Frank Thomas (1993-94), Dick Allen (1972) and Nellie Fox (1959). He batted .317/.370/.617 (76-240) with 15 doubles, 19 home runs and 60 RBI in 60 games and won his third career Silver Slugger award (also 2014 and 2018). Abreu also joined Minnesota's Zoilo Versalles (1965) and Oakland's José Canseco (1988) as the only natives of Cuba to receive the MVP honor. He is the 28th player in major-league history to win both Rookie of the Year (2014) and MVP.

The home opener will feature a Sox Split guaranteed jackpot starting at $100,000, presented by Wintrust and benefiting Chicago White Sox Charities. Tickets are available exclusively online for Illinois residents at whitesox.com/soxsplit. Sales will conclude at the end of the seventh inning of the home opener and the winning ticket will be displayed online and on Twitter at @soxcharities.

          Information about the 2021 fan experience at Guaranteed Rate Field is available at whitesox.com/safety. For the latest updates on ticket availability, register for the White Sox 2021 Ticket Availability Alert list at whitesox.com/safety.