By Mark Konkol
On Tuesday, hundreds of folks gathered at Old St. Patrick's Church in Chicago to say their final goodbyes to former White Sox pitcher Kevin Hickey -- who since 2003 had pitched batting practice for the club. Hickey died Wednesday. He was 56.
Sox captain Paul Konerko, catcher A.J. Pierzynski, pitching coach Don Cooper, trainer Herm Schneider, bullpen catcher Mark Salas, Sox travel director Ed Cassin and Hickey's friend John Capone were pallbearers.
Hickey was buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Alsip.
Eulogies given by Cooper and Pierzynski brought tears, laughter.
White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper:
"Everybody who has gone through the clubhouse from 2004 on was touched by this guy. .... I'll remember him as a friend and I want to celebrate him that way.
I know what [Kevin] would be telling me now, "OK, take a few minutes and then pay me homage," he'd say. "Give me homage and give me kudos." That's what we're trying to do in the midst of everything.
What I believe is he's in the presence of God. And knowing Kevin the first question he asked was," How can I help? What can I do?" I imagine God's response would be 'Kevin, you've don enough. It's time to rest and hang with me. You're on my team now.'
"I hope that we can turn our sorrow in to joy ... We were blessed to know him ... If I had a glass in my hand, a beer in my hand, I'd say a toast to Kevin. So later today when you have a beer in your hand toast him for me, because we'll be toasting him every day with the White Sox."
Father Paul Novak: "Thank you, Reverend Cooper. (Laughter)"
A.J. Pierzynski - "Coop, we got a new name for you, "Reverend Cooper." Thank you, Father.
I have so many stories about Hick. (Chokes up) ... He was there every day with a smile on his face. He loved being on the baseball field every day.
"He would do anything for you. He taught John Danks how to throw a cutter. He was there every day no matter what with me. If we had a lefty he'd be there before me waiting for me by my locker and say, "Do you need me to throw to you?" He'd throw literally until his arm fell off.
"I think Cooper told him to shave his head, because he loved him and his bald head. If you ever need to find him he was either working out or shaving his head ... Hickey had some sayings during ball games 'Show 'em your credentials.'
"He'd always tell Paulie to 'Crown 'em.' For those who don't know, we call Paulie 'The King.'
"[Hickey] became a parrot for Cooper. Cooper would tell Hick a saying and he'd yell it. The thing about Hick is he was there every day, he loved his life, he loved his family, he loved his friends, he loved baseball, and more important he loved White Sox baseball.
"No one was more proud of our team that this weekend we really swept the Cubs (chokes up. Applause). His jersey was there hanging, watching us ... I'll miss Kevin forever."