Sale aware of his impact on fans young, old

White Sox ace emphasizes making right decisions to remain 'positive influence'

Sale aware of his impact on fans young, old

CHICAGO -- Chris Sale considers himself a father, a husband, a son and -- as he said during SoxFest this past weekend -- someone who is "somewhat all right at pitching."

The talented White Sox southpaw is not concerned with the trappings of fame, but Sale does seem amused and often touched by those who recognize him, as happened recently when picking up his 5-year-old son and his friend from jujitsu class.

"I called a pizza place, and I gave them my address and name," Sale said. "And he's like, 'Wait a minute. You are Chris Sale the baseball player?' and I'm like, 'Yeah.'

"I'm in my truck on my speaker phone and this guy recognizes who I am. I get done with the pizza order and his little buddy, Jack, is like, 'You are famous enough that people know who you are?' It was just funny. You don't think about stuff like that. But looking at it from the eyes of a kid, it's interesting."

Sale takes photos with fans

Sale encountered many more similar interactions during three days of autographs, photo opportunities and seminars during his winter visit to a surprisingly warm Chicago. He joined Adam Eaton, Jose Abreu and Zoraida Sambolin, a local TV personality and the wife of White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams, as part of Saturday's Kids Only Q&A, one of the weekend highlights.

One young fan told Sale that he originally wore No. 22 as a Little League player in honor of Bill Buckner, who was a favorite of his dad. But he changed that jersey to No. 49 because of his Sale fandom. That got Sale thinking about how he wore jersey No. 51 as a young player in tribute to his idol, Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, and how surreal the situation has become that kids do the same for him.

"It's really cool. On top of that, it's also a responsibility," Sale said. "You have certain standards that you need to keep to be a positive influence. If he's that influenced by not only myself, but by other people, we need to be on top of and make sure we are making the right decisions and being good role models as well.

"Baseball is literally the most dedicated sport you have to be for a fan. Football, you get up on Saturdays or Sundays, once a week, and cheer for your team. We are playing every single day. So you have to show your appreciation to them as well. It's important."

Sale talks baseball with kids

That sort of connection often is witnessed by Sale's son, Rylan. He understands dad plays baseball and plays on TV, yet he can't quite comprehend all the people who approach his dad.

"He asked me, 'Daddy, why does everybody want you to write your name on stuff? How come all these people want to take pictures with you?'" Sale said with a laugh. "He just jumps in. He stands right in front when they want to take a picture.

"He's just thinking, 'We are going to take a picture.' He has those questions, and I tell him people watch baseball and they appreciate what I do, and this is what I do for them to give back."

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.