White Sox Pedro Grifol's emotional tribute to family's sacrifices

Grifol's emotional tribute to family's sacrifices originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

On Thursday, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn unbuttoned a No. 5 jersey and picked up a classic, black-and-white White Sox ballcap for Pedro Grifol to wear over his dress clothes.

They shook hands, exchanged a few words with ear-to-ear grins, and posed for the cameras in front of their table, holding the jersey in unison.

As Grifol addressed the media for the first time as the manager of the South Side, he thanked his family, friends and peers. He mentioned and thanked 30 names along the way.

He gave a special shoutout to Salvador Perez, who he helped coach to five All-Star games, four Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger awards during his time with the Kansas City Royals.

"Te quiero (I love you) Caballo," Grifol said to Perez, who he said he "knew was watching."

He then told a story about a discussion he initiated with his family about his decision to step down as Director of the Minor Leagues of the Seattle Mariners organization to get back to his true passion – the dugout.

RELATED: Hahn details White Sox' search process that led to Grifol

"You guys epitomize the word sacrifice," Grifol started. "In 2011, it was my third year as a farm director and I came home from the complex one day and I told my wife Ali, I said 'I'm starting to get that itch to go back on the field.' And right away she jumped, being so supportive, she jumped right back and said 'Well, go ahead and do it.' I said 'Let me sit down and talk to the girls about it.'

"We had dinner that night and the girls, they were younger, obviously 10,11 years younger and I told them, I said 'I've been in the office for three years, I don't think I like it that much. My passion is on the field. I'm getting that itch to go back on the field.' Right away they jumped and said 'Just go ahead and do it.' I said 'Not so fast, there's a couple of things we've got to talk about. The first thing is finances. Obviously, a farm director makes a hell of a lot more money than a minor-league manager. This house we're living in, we're probably going to have to downsize from this house and go into a condo close to the school in Phoenix. Then the last thing and most important is I'm going to have to go to winter ball, continue to go to winter ball, and make ends meet. That'll take me another three and a half months away from the house.'"

"They snapped right back at me and said 'How in the world can you tell us to chase our dreams if you're not chasing yours?'"

Grifol started working in the Mariners' minor leagues as a coach and manager in 2010, slowly building up his résumé.

By 2013, he had worked his way up to the Kansas City Royals franchise, where he served as a hitting coach, catchers coach, quality control, and most recently as the team's bench coach, winning the World Series in 2015-16 along the way.

Grifol interviewed for the Sox' managerial position, which Hahn mentioned the team had an original list of "22 or 24 names" of people for the job. The list quickly ballooned to 30 names. Grifol was included on a list of eight candidates who were interviewed by the organization.

RELATED: Hahn details White Sox' search process that led to Grifol

Hahn said Grifol set the bar higher than the other candidates and "knocked their socks off" in his premiere interview. From there, the rest is history, and Grifol proclaimed he was "emotional" when he found out he received the job.

"It was extremely emotional," Grifol said. "I've been in this game a long time, and all I've ever wanted to do was manage a baseball team, right? It didn't matter if it was the minor leagues or the big leagues. I wanted to manage. This game has a tendency to kind of grab you and take you to other places, and if you don't check yourself, you're going to end up somewhere where your passion doesn't sit, right? That's where I was.

"This game took me into the scouting world, then it brought me back to managing. Took me to a field coordinator and then it grabbed me and took me into the front office. And I was excited for a little bit. But, after a couple, two, three years, that's not where my passion was. It's here on the field, it’s wearing this uniform. Thank God I have them right there that they just made all the sacrifices in the world for me to be able to continue to do this and here we are."

He ascertains he wouldn't have gotten to his chair in the media room at Guaranteed Rate Field without the support and sacrifice of his family. Without that support, he might still be a farm director with the Mariners, instead of chasing his long-life dream of managing a baseball team.

"I can't thank you enough for that," Grifol said. "I can't thank you for the sacrifices that you have made, for this day right here. You guys are my rock. You've supported me throughout. I wouldn't be sitting right here without you. Thank you."

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