Family-friendly fun to be had at SoxFest

Sale, Abreu, Eaton ready for questions at first kids-only press conference

Family-friendly fun to be had at SoxFest

CHICAGO -- Kids attending SoxFest from Jan. 29-31 at the Hilton Chicago need to do a little more preparation than picking out their favorite players for autographs and photos.

That change emanates from the first kids-only press conference during this White Sox winter weekend, with Chris Sale, Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton on stage Saturday afternoon. So it's the kids' responsibility to come up with any and all questions for these three standouts.

"They ask the funniest questions," said White Sox director of public relations Sheena Quinn of the newest SoxFest addition. "I'm expecting everything from 'What's your favorite dessert?' to 'What's your favorite dance move?' to I'm sure there's some really savvy baseball fans that are really asking what they expect for 2016.

"Sale, Abreu and Eaton will have to be on their game. Baseball is a family sport. We wanted to make sure it's family-friendly."

To that family-friendly extent, the White Sox have amped up the Little Sluggers Field that will be in Salon A with a bunch of kid-friendly activities. There also will be other kids-directed programming throughout the three days.

SoxFest will feature a blend of top current players, prospects and players from the franchise's storied past. That list includes Sale, Abreu, newcomer Todd Frazier, Hall of Famers Frank Thomas (Saturday) and Carlton Fisk, as well as Tim Anderson, Carson Fulmer and Trey Michalczewski, the organization's Nos. 1, 2 and 4 prospects per MLB.com, to name a few.

"We are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the ballpark here, so we wanted to make sure that we brought in guys from all generations and eras of White Sox baseball," Quinn said. "It's going to be a nice range of people."

Town Hall Meetings with general manager Rick Hahn and manager Robin Ventura are scheduled for Friday evening and Saturday morning. Other seminars include 2005 World Series Memories with Willie Harris, Jose Contreras and Carl Everett, Chess Game on the Mound with pitching coach Don Cooper, Erik Johnson and Nate Jones, and Down on the Farm with Eddy Alvarez, Fulmer, Anderson and Adam Engel.

Friday marked the last day to purchase two-night hotel packages. Passes for next Saturday are sold out, and there are a limited amount of two-day passes and then Sunday only.

"It definitely exceeded what we thought our goals would be," said Quinn of the SoxFest fan response. "We are really excited about the number of people."

Premium upgrade packages off the two-night hotel packages provide three different experiences on different days. Friday night is a photo with Sale and the strikeout record ring. Saturday is a private Q&A with Thomas, and then Sunday is a private autograph session with Abreu.

People who buy the premium upgrades packages get a T-shirt that's akin to the '76 shirt jersey. And they receive three speed passes so they don't have to wait in line for some more marquee autograph sessions that include Abreu, Sale and Thomas.

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.