White Sox

New White Sox coach was at Disco Demolition: 'It was really scary'


New White Sox coach was at Disco Demolition: 'It was really scary'

New assistant hitting coach Greg Sparks was on hand for one of the most infamous nights in White Sox history.

Then a teenaged bat boy, Sparks, now 51, was at Comiskey Park for Disco Demolition Night on July 12, 1979. Sparks said during a conference call Thursday he remembers the experience well. Things got so out of hand during the Bill Veeck promotion in between games of a doubleheader that the White Sox were forced to forfeit the nightcap after thousands of fans took the field, which was partly damaged as a result of an explosion in which the team attempted to blow up a crate full of disco records.

"It was really scary," Sparks said. "When it happened, we were like, 'Oh, this is kind of fun.' And then Sox security, they were a bunch of big dudes at the time, they came out and they were trying corral the people jumping on the field, and then it started getting a little hairy, and it started coming toward the dugout. That’s when panic time set in. 'This is getting out of hand. It’s a little scary.'"

Sparks' father Joe was a member of the White Sox coaching staff. He and several others joined the team's players and their family members out of harm's way.

"They kind of got us out of there, being young kids," Sparks said. "They ushered us up into the concourse. I can’t remember exactly where it was. We did have a view of the field. It was up where the press was. I believe there was kind of a restaurant at the time, and we were hanging out in there, the families of the team and all of the players in uniform were just kind of sitting there looking down on the field, watching this thing unfold. Because we didn’t know if they were going to bust through the doors into the clubhouse, so they kind of got everybody out of there."

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The new role is Sparks' first major league coaching assignment after spending his entire career as a coach in the Oakland A's' farm system. It was there Sparks met White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson. Steverson said Sparks took him under his wing and they've worked well together since.

"Familiarity actually is a plus," Steverson said. "But really it was somebody that comes in with a solid work ethic and understands the program we’re trying to put in place with the White Sox and has the personality to mesh with our players and put forth our best foot."

Given his familiarity with Steverson and his dad's history with the White Sox, Sparks considers this to be a reunion of sorts.

"It's kind of a full circle deal," Sparks said. "The White Sox have been in the family for a long time and it’s kind of ironic how it worked out that my first major league gig is going to be with the White Sox, the same as my dad’s was in ’79. But it’s kind of a neat little back story."

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best


Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

GLENDALE, Ariz. — On a day when Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada took live batting practice for the first time this spring, off in the distance was a lanky White Sox prospect standing in the outfield grass.

But Alec Hansen was doing more than shagging flies. He was watching both hitters very closely.

“I was looking to see how much pop they had,” Hansen said of Abreu and Moncada. “I kind of look at that to see the difference in power between minor league ball and the major leagues. It’s nice to see it’s not a huge difference. That makes me feel a bit more comfortable.”

At 6-foot-8 — actually 6-foot-8-and-a-half, according to his spring training physical — Hansen is a big man with big plans for his baseball career. He might be quiet on the outside, but he has booming expectations for himself on the inside.

“I want to be the best,” Hansen said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago.

The best? The very best?

That’s what Hansen aspires to become, though later in our conversation, he did dial back a notch, settling for becoming “one of the best.”

Either is fine with manager Ricky Renteria, who is overseeing these uber-confident White Sox prospects and accepts their lofty expectations.

“I think their mindset is where it’s supposed to be,” Renteria said. “None of these kids are concerned or consumed with the possibility of failure. Much more they’re consuming themselves with the understanding that they might hit some stumbling blocks, but they’re going to have a way to avoid overcoming them and push forward and be the best that they can be.”

In his first full season in the White Sox organization, Hansen led the minor leagues with 191 strikeouts. He’s proud of that accomplishment but admitted something: He’s not that impressed because he didn’t do it where it really matters — in the major leagues.

When you watch Hansen pitch, it’s easy to see that the talent is there. His coaches and teammates rave about his ability. With his enormous size and power arm, he is loaded with strengths.  

Though there is one weakness that Hansen acknowledges he needs to work on.

“Sometimes I have a tendency to think too much and worry. I think worrying is the worst thing that I do just because I want to be perfect,” Hansen said. “I think everyone wants to be perfect, some more than others, and I worry about things getting in the way of achieving perfection.”

To Hansen, that doesn’t mean throwing a perfect game. He actually takes it one step further.

He wants to strikeout every single hitter he faces.

“I love striking people out,” Hansen said. “Not having to rely on anyone else and just getting the job done myself and knowing that the hitter can’t get a hit off me. That’s a great feeling. That they can’t put it in play. Like a line drive out. That’s terrible.”

At some point, Hansen will have to lower these impossible expectations for himself. This is an imperfect game. There’s no place for nine-inning, 27-strikeout performances. Players end up in the Hall of Fame because they learn how to succeed with failure.

In the meantime, Hansen is here in big league camp watching and learning anything and everything.

“I’m a good observer. I listen. I don’t really talk too much. I’m a pretty quiet guy. I like to sit back and observe and see how these guys go about their business. Just trying to be at their level, hopefully one day surpass them.”


“It’s kind of hard to surpass some of these guys. I mean, they’re at the tip-top, like the pinnacle of the sport,” Hansen said. “I guess you could say, to get on that level and then be one of the best in the league.”

He might be on his way.

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey


White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

The White Sox freed up a spot on their 40-man roster Sunday, outrighting pitcher Dylan Covey to Triple-A Charlotte.

Covey pitched in 18 games last season, making 12 starts for the South Siders. Things did not go well, with Covey turning in an 0-7 record and a 7.71 ERA in 70 innings.

While there was an outside chance that Covey could have provided at least some starting-pitching depth heading into the 2018 season, the team's recent additions of Miguel Gonzalez and Hector Santiago — not to mention Covey's results from last season — wiped out that idea.

At the moment, the White Sox starting rotation figures to look like this by Opening Day: James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer, with Santiago seeming like a good option to provide depth as the long man in the bullpen.