The Peoria Outdoorsmen
Paul Konerko stands among the plethora of White Sox players, coaches, broadcasters and front office personnel scheduled to attend SoxFest in Chicago this weekend, really the most comprehensive list in the past eight years. But at this point, it’s no certainty Konerko will be able to find his way to the Palmer House Hilton.
More will be known about the White Sox first baseman’s arrival and whereabouts during Wednesday night’s Grand Slam Party at U.S. Cellular Field, benefiting Illinois foster families and celebrating the ‘Bring Me Home’ campaign in partnership with Children’s Home + Aid. This effort was started by Jim and Andrea Thome and Paul and Jennifer Konerko to help raise money and awareness for the needs of foster children in families in Illinois, and Wednesday’s party also will feature Gordon Beckham joining the Thomes and Konerkos.
Here’s the only issue: Konerko has spent the past few days at Thome’s property in Peoria, taking a rare step into the outdoor life that is second nature to the former White Sox designated hitter. Before he departed, Konerko simply hoped to be able to find his way back to said property.
“He’s going to show me how to be an outdoorsman,” said Konerko with a laugh, speaking Saturday night prior to the 15th Joyce Thome Benefit for Children’s Hospital of Illinois at the Peoria Civic Center. “I just hope he doesn’t drag me off into the middle of nowhere and leave me and tell me to get back on my own.”
The truth of the matter is that Konerko and Thome enjoyed a little playoff football on Sunday, after their families got together for Saturday’s entertaining event, and then it was off to the property. Thome and Konerko both planned to work out and hit at Thome’s own facilities.
Yet, with a wry smile, Thome wouldn’t guarantee serving as a perfect tour guide for Konerko.
“Tell White Sox fans I’ll get him to Spring Training,” said Thome with a laugh, after expressing his deep appreciation for Konerko attending Saturday’s charity event. “I’ll have a little fun with him.”
By the way, the ‘Bring Me Home’ campaign has raised over $235,000 since its inception.