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Naperville Central graduate gets dream of playing for White Sox, giving back to community

Naperville Central graduate gets dream of playing for White Sox, giving back to community
Naperville Central graduate gets dream of playing for White Sox, giving back to community 03:28

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Nicky Lopez grew up less than an hour from Guaranteed Rate Field.

The White Sox second baseman is a Naperville Central graduate. Fans often remind him that his dream of playing Major League Baseball close to home came true.

"I do hear like the Naperville Nicky and all that, which definitely wasn't a nickname I give myself," he said. "It is special. Being able to put on a uniform where I wore the same uniform as a kid coming to World Series games, being able to be in this ballpark it is truly special."

The Royals drafted Lopez in the fifth round of the 2016 MLB draft.

He played a short stint with the Braves before being traded to the South Side.

Despite the Sox's disappointing start, Nicky says he's enjoyed a clubhouse that gets along.

"On off days after games on the road all in a hotel room playing video games," he said. "I know fans can feel it. Sometimes we're not winning a lot of games but we feel it, too. We're a close-knit group."

Lopez learned to be part of a team at a young age. He grew up on a softball field with his dad, Bobby, a Chicago 16-inch softball hall of famer.

"I followed him around everywhere when I was that young. Obviously, not old enough to bat boy, but that's my dad's bat that was taller than me that he used and then he wore on his hamstring, and it fit over his whole leg. I was an easy kid, easy baby always wanted to be around a baseball field."

Now, Nicky uses baseball to make a difference. This July, the infielder is introducing his inaugural Softball Charity Classic.

Its proceeds will benefit several organizations that assist adolescents and young adults battling cancer.

"One of the first things he says to us is, 'I want to do things in the community.' So not only is he doing the softball classic, but he's already done a hospital visit. He's got all sorts of youth groups coming out to the ballpark, so he's the real deal," said Christine O'Reilly, executive director of White Sox Charities. 

"When I was with Kansas City, I wanted to do it in the offseason when I get back home to Naperville," he said. "Then we got traded to Chicago and were like, you know what? It would be a really good idea if we did it now during the season. I've always been taught to respect others, as cliche as it sounds, treat others the way you want to be. But I just think there's so much hate in this world. If you have any chance to give back or show some love, you do it."

Lopez's goals for the rest of the season are to stay busy both on and off the field.

"You got to just take it one game at a time whether you go 4-4 0-4, good game, bad game, show up next day ready to work," he said. 

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