May was a month of mixed results for the Chicago White Sox. Despite a favorable schedule of primarily divisional matchups, the South Siders fell short of expectations, as reflected by their 15-14 record over that timespan. Amid the team’s ongoing struggles, however, there were a handful of bright spots that stirred the emotions of fans and players alike.
May 12th, 2023: José Abreu’s Homecoming
One of the first standout moments of May was the homecoming of José Abreu. Abreu, who had inked a three-year deal with the rival Houston Astros last off-season, was preparing to make his return to 35th and Shields for the first time as a visiting player. Leading up to Abreu’s homecoming, many had wondered how the events would unfold, especially after the slugger’s abrupt off-season departure. Anticipation continued to build prior to first pitch (largely in part to a lengthy rain delay) as fans stayed dry while inclement weather loomed over the ballpark.
As the storm clouds parted, the tarp came off the field, and Abreu emerged from the visitor’s dugout with great enthusiasm toward his fans and former teammates. Shortly before first pitch, the Chicago White Sox honored Abreu with a tasteful video tribute on the centerfield scoreboard to thank him for his nine seasons of being arguably the heart and soul of the franchise. As José stepped into the batter’s box to face Michael Kopech for the very first time, the slugger took a moment to tip his cap to the fanbase, the city, and the entire organization.
While the acknowledgment was rather brief, it proved to be a special moment for those in attendance. Dedicated fans, who had braved the near two-hour delay, came to life with applause, demonstrating their appreciation for Abreu’s hard work and contributions over the course of his near-decade playing in Chicago. Despite donning number 79 in unfavorable colors, it was evident that José Abreu’s bond with the South Side loyal has remained unbroken.
May 18th, 2023: Garrett Crochet’s Anticipated Return
Less than a week after José Abreu’s return, another familiar face came back to the South Side. May 18th marked the return of hard-throwing lefty, Garrett Crochet, whose last Major League appearance came during Game 4 of the 2021 American League Division Series against the Houston Astros. Being sidelined the entire 2022 season to recover from Tommy John surgery was a true test for the 23-year-old southpaw, one that presented its share of ups and downs. 583 days later, Crochet finally returned to the mound, hurling a perfect ninth inning against the Cleveland Guardians. Fans and teammates applauded Crochet’s successful comeback while recognizing the positive impact it could potentially have on the team’s performance moving forward.
May 29th, 2023: The Emotional Comeback of Liam Hendriks
In a remarkable display of strength, Chicago White Sox pitcher Liam Hendriks made his triumphant return to the mound, less than five months after beginning treatment for stage four non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The significance of this moment extended far beyond the confines of the diamond, capturing the hearts of fans and serving as a testament to Hendriks’ unwavering resilience.
Liam’s return was deeply touching. His charisma, selflessness, and charitable efforts have always left a lasting impact on the fanbase. With how involved he and his wife, Kristi, have been in the community, fans were eager to reciprocate the support. Appreciation was shown in several ways, in the form of signs, t-shirts, and thunderous applauses. In a heartfelt display of solidarity, a group of spectators situated in the left field bleachers then held up letters spelling “Team Liam” as he made his way toward the bullpen.
When Hendriks entered the game on the evening of that very special Memorial Day, the atmosphere in the ballpark was unparalleled. As cheers rang through Guaranteed Rate Field and tears of joy flowed, it was evident that this was the most meaningful highlight of the entire season. In that moment, Liam Hendriks was more than a baseball player — he was a hero, an inspiration, and a profound symbol of hope. Liam’s story remains a poignant reminder that a person’s spirit can indeed be unbreakable.
Words and even photos cannot fully capture the magnitude of this moment, because it transcended on-field performance and statistics. It symbolized something much greater: the power that humans truly hold to overcome adversity. Hendriks’ return to the mound not only marked a personal milestone but also served as an inspiration for countless others facing their own battles. May 29th, 2023 will forever be etched in baseball history as a day when the game became secondary, and a player’s personal triumph was celebrated by all.
While the 2023 White Sox continue to claw their way out of a deep hole, these pivotal moments in May were catalysts for hope and a brighter future. The significant events highlighted above served as reminders that baseball is not solely about wins and losses, but about the shared experiences that unite fans with their favorite players. May was a month filled with ups and downs for the Chicago White Sox, as the team grappled with inconsistent performance on the field. However, in hindsight, the month also brought forth noteworthy moments that will be remembered forever.
Feel free to check out some additional photos taken throughout the month of May below.
Follow us @SoxOn35th for more updates throughout the season!
Featured Words and Images: Joe Ruffalo/@jruff96