Hendriks named Jimmy V Award recipient

June 29th, 2023

ANAHEIM -- White Sox closer will have a busy few days during the upcoming All-Star break after ESPN announced Tuesday he had received the 2023 Jimmy V Award and will be recognized at the 2023 ESPYS on July 12 in Los Angeles.

Hendriks was given this prestigious honor after his battle with stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma -- which he announced via his Instagram in December -- led him into remission and back to the mound with the White Sox on May 29.

But could a trip to the All-Star Game also be in Hendriks’ future?

The right-handed hurling veteran currently is on the injured list with elbow inflammation. He began throwing on Wednesday at Angel Stadium and has no set timetable for his return. He is 2-0 with a 5.14 ERA and one save over five games, although a smiling Hendriks pointed out the White Sox are 4-1 in his appearances.

A special exemption, along the lines of the legacy selection Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera received last year, would be needed for Hendriks to make his fourth trip to the Midsummer Classic. With the inspiration he has been during his treatment and the support and inspiration he has provided after, Hendriks is an All-Star even if that invite never arrives or the numbers don’t dictate his inclusion.

If he was asked to go to Seattle, Hendriks expressed in his own gregarious way he would attend. He would not do so at the expense of another player. 

“Look, my big thing is I definitely would be open to it. But it’s not something I’m expecting obviously,” Hendriks told MLB.com. “And as long as it doesn’t negate anybody else going.

“I don’t want to take an opportunity from someone who has the potential to go for their first one or get into a game for the first time. I don’t want anybody else to lose out on a spot. I always would love to go.”

Hendriks joked about wanting to see the home clubhouse in Seattle, having never been there before, but added how he enjoys the interaction with players during the festivities. It allows players to get to know the person behind the individual on the field a little better.

He also loves the “red carpet stuff” because he “gets to show off” his wife, Kristi.

While Hendriks was diagnosed last December, he remained steadfast that he wouldn't need to be placed on the 60-day injured list as he worked his way back – a prediction that ended up becoming true. Hendriks was able to play long toss and throw a few bullpens in Arizona while undergoing chemo, followed by six rehab appearances for Triple-A Charlotte and three live bullpens with the White Sox before he was activated. 

While Hendriks was recovering, he and Kristi said they were inundated with cards and letters from White Sox fans sending their support. The award is named after former North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano, who made one of the greatest speeches in sports history during the 1993 ESPYS when he was terminally ill with cancer. 

During the speech, Valvano announced the creation of the V Foundation for Cancer Research, with the motto “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” He died two months after the speech. Past recipients of the award include Dick Vitale, Stuart Scott, Craig Sager and Jim Kelly.

“Reading up on Jimmy V and everything he went through, that speech is still eliciting tears from a lot of people while listening to it,” said Hendriks before Wednesday’s game at Angel Stadium. “That’s something that is really, really cool. It’s not something I ever thought I would be a part of.

“To make that profound of a statement in that situation in his diagnosis and everything he went through, it’s something that’s mind boggling to have the wherewithal about going through that. It’s definitely a pillar to try to attain to get to that status of being in that humbling and everything along with it.”

Hendriks plans to sit down with Kristi to prepare the speech for this special night.

“It’s a very high bar to set with who the award is named after,” Hendriks said. “But I’m going to go out there and make sure I thank the people who really helped me through this ordeal.”

Henry Palattella contributed to this report