(CBS) White Sox pre-game instructor Kevin Hickey passed away Wednesday morning at Rush University Medical Center. He was 56.
Hickey was found unresponsive in his Texas hotel room April 5 after he didn’t show up to the team’s morning workout the day before the White Sox opened their season against the Texas Rangers. He was later transported from Dallas to Chicago in early April, but remained unresponsive until he died Wednesday.
“Ask anyone in our clubhouse, every person here appreciated what Kevin did to help the White Sox win baseball games,” Paul Konerko said in a statement. “No one wanted to win more, no one was more optimistic, no one cared more and no one took more pride in his job. He made all of us better.”
Hickey, a native of Chicago’s Brighton Park neighborhood, served as a pre-game instructor since 2004 and was the team’s left-handed batting practice pitcher. A former major league pitcher, Hickey pitched for the White Sox from 1981-83 and the Baltimore Orioles from 1989-91.
Hickey did not take a normal path to the major leagues. He never played high school baseball, but received a tryout with the White Sox after a successful run as a 16-inch softball player. He was the only one of 250 players to be signed after the tryout and after three years in the minors, made his major league debut with the White Sox in 1981.
“Hick came to the park every single day ready to work and with a smile on his face,” A.J. Pierzynski said. “He will be sorely missed by us all.”