CHICAGO -- When Robin Ventura took over as White Sox manager prior to the start of the 2012 season, one of his first official actions had very little to do with baseball. It also stood out as one of the most important ones of his now four-year tenure.
Ventura journeyed from California to Chicago to take an on-stage part in Goodman Theatre's A Christmas Carol on Dec. 21, 2011, joined by then 9-year-old Emily Beazley, who had recently been diagnosed with Stage 3 non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. The Chicago native had a wish to someday be a star, but on that particular night, Emily was happy to make a cameo with a character featuring her same name, while Ventura played Mr. Ventura.
"Today, she said she might get founded, those are her words," said her emotional mother, Nadia, of her daughter's acting opportunity in '11 provided by Goodman Theatre and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Emily never had the chance to win an Academy Award, an Emmy or a Tony. At the age of 12, she sadly lost her battle with cancer on Monday. But she inspired too many to count during her valiant battle against this insidious disease.
"She was a tough kid going through something unimaginable," said Ventura, speaking prior to Tuesday's contest against the Indians at U.S. Cellular Field. "Her attitude, being upbeat the way she was through it all, you learn things. You get a perspective on what is important."
A special tribute was paid to Emily in the White Sox game notes, with condolences wished to her friends and family. Emily was at U.S. Cellular Field with her family on Mother's Day, throwing out one of the ceremonial first pitches to Ventura. She received numerous honors from her Mount Greenwood community prior to her passing, as well as receiving a special phone call from Taylor Swift.
"Her and the family and everything the community did for her was incredible," said Ventura, a parent to four children with his wife, Stephanie. "She jammed a lot in in 12 years, especially the last three to four. Your heart breaks. It's incredibly sad."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.