25th Annual Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards to be televised LIVE on CSN Thursday, Jan. 24

25th Annual Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards to be televised LIVE on CSN Thursday, Jan. 24

25th Annual Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards to be Televised Live
on Comcast SportsNet on Thursday, January 24th at 7:30 PM CT (Pre-Show Special airs at 7 PM)

(Chicago December 17, 2012) -- Many of Chicago's most popular past and present professional athletes will take center stage to receive honors at the 25th Annual Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards to benefit the March of Dimes. The silver anniversary reception, dinner & ceremony will be held on Thursday, January 24th, 2013 from 5:00-9:00 PM CT at the Hilton Chicago & Towers, 720 S. Michigan Avenue. Over the past 24 years, the Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards has raised close to 9 million for the March of Dimes.

The honorees chosen are top athletes from Chicago's professional teams who have made considerable contributions to their teams, as well as the Chicago community. Special to the 25th anniversary of this event: both a current player and a legend from each professional Chicago sports team will be honored. This year's Player of the Year and Team Legend honorees include RICHARD RIP HAMILTON (Bull of the Year), BOB LOVE (Bulls Legend) -- EDDIE OLCZYK (Blackhawks Legend) -- DARWIN BARNEY (Cub of the Year), ERNIE BANKS (Cubs Legend) -- CHRIS SALE (White Sox of the Year), FRANK THOMAS (White Sox Legend) -- PATRICK NYARKO (Fire of the Year), FRANK KLOPAS (Fire Legend). Honorees from the Chicago Bears will be announced shortly. For the pinnacle moment of the evening, this years March of Dimes Inspirational Athlete award winner is 13-year-old CONNOR McHUGH from St. Michael Parish School in Wheaton, IL. Connor has persevered as both a standout athlete, coach and student, despite being born with a birth defect.

The 1000 expected attendees for the 25th Annual Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards will also be able to participate in a silent auction featuring Chicago sports packages and Dream Day tickets, vacation packages including airfare, autographed jerseys of star athletes, tickets for Chicago sports events, golf outings, spa packages, dinner packages, hotel stays and much more. For more information, fans are urged to visit CSNChicago.comsportsawards25.

William T. Barry, Senior Vice President of Draper & Kramer is the events Chairman and James J. Corno is the President of Comcast SportsNet Chicago. The Honorary Chairmen are Cary D. McMillan, CEO, True Partners Consulting, LLC and Ron Boire, President, Sears and Kmart Formats, Sears Holdings Corporation.

Event sponsors include Comcast SportsNet, True Partners, Quaker, Draper & Kramer, Equity Residential, KPMG, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank and PricewaterHouse Coopers.

The event will begin with a reception at 5:00 PM, followed by dinner at 6:30 PM. The awards ceremony, which will be carried live on Comcast SportsNet in HD, starts at 7:30 PM with a special half-hour preview show set to air at 7:00 PM. Tickets are 400 per person and sponsorships are available. To purchase tickets or to make a donation to the 25th Annual Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards, please contact Shannon McCahill at 312-596-4716 (smccahill@marchofdimes.com) or visit CSNChicago.comsportsawards25.

How a fan's kind gesture surprised Mark Buehrle on his big day

How a fan's kind gesture surprised Mark Buehrle on his big day

It’s one of the more iconic moments in White Sox history, and now Mark Buehrle has a key piece of memorabilia after a fan’s kind gesture.

Already overwhelmed by a series of gifts from the White Sox on Saturday afternoon, Buehrle was in disbelief when 17-year-old Tommy Maloney walked onto the field during a number-retirement ceremony and presented him with the flipped-through-the-legs ball from 2010 Opening Day.

The memento was one of four gifts Buehrle received from the White Sox along with a new truck, a four-seat All-Terrain Vehicle and a personalized piece of art created by White Sox outfielder Ron Kittle commemorating many of the highlights of the pitcher’s White Sox career. It was just another part of an overwhelming, emotional day for Buehrle, who was honored for his 12 seasons in a White Sox uniform.

“Pretty cool,” Buehrle said. “I don’t recall signing it for him when it happened. I don’t really remember where it went. But one, for him to give that up, that was pretty awesome.”

Maloney’s father, Matt, contacted the White Sox earlier this month to see if Buehrle wanted to meet with the fan who had the ball from a moment in White Sox history that has been replayed thousands upon thousands of times.

The Maloneys also reached out to the White Sox back in 2010, too. They informed the club they had the ball that Buehrle retrieved and flipped through his legs to Paul Konerko, who caught it with a barehanded to retire Cleveland’s Lou Marson in the fifth inning of the April 5, 2010 contest. Buehrle autographed the ball in 2010, but neither he nor the White Sox asked for Tommy Maloney, who was 8 at the time, to hand it over.

“At that point it’s just a cool ball, it’s not part of White Sox history,” said Brooks Boyer, White Sox vice president of sales and marketing.

As he looked for a unique artifact for Buehrle to offer another layer to Saturday’s ceremony, Boyer came across Matt Maloney’s most recent email. He definitely thought Buehrle would have interest in reuniting with the fan who held a key artifact from a play that has become legendary around these parts over the years.

But Boyer also asked if the Maloneys would want to donate the ball to Buehrle.

“We didn’t have the unique thing,” Boyer said. “We just didn’t have it.

“Here it is.”

How it had gotten in Tommy Maloney’s hands in the first place was interesting enough. The Munster, Ind., high schooler said his father got tickets for the 2010 season opener and he left school early to watch Buehrle, his favorite pitcher as a kid. The seats were in the first row behind the far right edge of the White Sox dugout, the same ones he was in for Saturday’s ceremony.

After the improbable play to steal a hit from Marson, Buehrle fell to his knees, which brought manager Ozzie Guillen out of the dugout. Somehow Guillen retrieved the ball and upon returning to the dugout, flipped it to Maloney, who had earlier asked him for a ball several times. Even though it was a prized possession, Tommy Maloney said he’d have no problem surrendering it again if he were asked.

The White Sox rewarded Maloney for his sacrifice as club chairman Jerry Reinsdorf determined that the youngster would present Buehrle with the ball on the field. But the White Sox didn’t tell Maloney he would present the ball until Saturday, surprising him with the news about an hour before the game.

“It’s awesome the way it played out,” Maloney said. “He’s such a great guy. He was hugging me in the dugout. He looked at me when I went up there to give him the ball and said, ‘Give me a hug.’ ”

Maloney not only stood on the field before the ceremony, he had a chance to briefly meet Buehrle in the dugout. He also received another autographed baseball. And after he was applauded by the sellout crowd, several fans stopped by Maloney’s seat to pose for a picture.

Buehrle was touched by the gesture.

“I was like, ‘Brooks, we’ve got to do something here,’ ” Buehrle said. “’He can’t just give the ball and walk out of here empty-handed.’ So I ended up signing him a ball and I don’t know if we have something else in mind, but it was pretty awesome.”

Jon Lester, Cubs rotation trends in right direction with win over Marlins

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USA TODAY

Jon Lester, Cubs rotation trends in right direction with win over Marlins

MIAMI – Jon Lester dropped his head and wiped the sweat from his face. The Cubs ace didn’t jerk his neck and twist his body, hoping the swing and the sound somehow fooled him. The slow turnaround revealed the obvious – his 75-mph curveball flew over the left-field wall and nearly into the Clevelander bar billed as an adult playground.  

Lester gripped the next ball, stared out into the visual noise at Marlins Park and went to work on Saturday after J.T. Realmuto’s three-run homer in the first inning. This is the stuff, determination and tunnel vision that’s been the antidote to the pressures of playing at Fenway Park and Wrigley Field and made Lester such a big-game pitcher.

Lester retired the next 13 hitters he faced, 15 of the next 16 and 18 of his last 20 at a time when the Cubs needed that kind of performance to buy time for their young hitters, survive a brutal schedule and weather a series of injuries. 

A 5-3 win pushed the Cubs to 38-36 as Lester (5-4, 3.83 ERA) and the overall rotation continue to trend in the right direction.