White Sox fans warm up team's bullpen

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There's diehard and then there's another level altogether.

There's diehard and then there's another level altogether: Chicago White sox fans braving the cold Wednesday for a chance to pitch in the South Siders' bullpen.

"Cold, but ready...Ready to not get last place," said Mike LaRocque before his two-pitch attempt.

With their own loyal fans looking on, the lucky lineup competed to see who had the hottest arm.

The winner, as the Sox's senior vice president of sales and marketing Brooks Boyer explained, gets a trip for two to the team's spring training hub in Arizona. The package includes airfare, two nights in a hotel and two game tickets.

Boyer added that the top 10 would be the team's guests on Opening Day; everyone competing received a ticket voucher.

That's good news for Zach Hannah who drove from Indianapolis for the contest.

"Are you insane," I asked him jokingly.

His response: "A little bit yeah, but I'm a Sox Fan. Aren't we all?"

Waiting their turn, the Major Leaguers-for a day- tried to stay warm and loose. Contestant Nick Murawski was even pumping hand weights.

"I'm ready to go, I'm ready to go. If I break sixty it'll be a miracle."

I didn't have such luck when the reporters had our chance, though I did sneak in a couple strikes.

Some pitches flew wild into the stands with others bouncing short of the plate.

"We're hoping for no torn elbows or shoulders," said Boyer.

Out of the couple dozen challengers, two clocked in at 76 mph. But after a one-pitch playoff, Tom Petermann was crowned champ.

"My arm feels fine, I actually wanna keep going. Oh, it's fantastic to be out here. If anybody wins here it's a great thing."

Petermann added that he pitched at Rolling Meadows High School as a member of the class of 1994. He said he used to be able to zip the ball above 90 mph.

Maybe he'll have more speed on a throw when he's enjoying the warmth of Arizona next month.
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