Anyone who regularly attends high school and college basketball games in the Joliet area and around the Midwest may not realize it, but probably has seen Mike Kashirsky hard at work.
He was one of those guys wearing the striped shirts.
However, Kashirsky also has a career in major league baseball that is priority No. 1. So, his final basketball game this winter will be Feb. 10. He will fly to Glendale, Arizona, on Feb. 13, get his physical the next day and will jump right into his spring training duties as the White Sox pitchers and catchers report.
“I’m close to putting the stripes away and hopefully getting to warm weather,” he said. “Going from basketball officiating to the White Sox is an easy transition. I enjoy every day of it.”
Kashirsky, 40 and a Lockport resident who graduated from Providence Catholic in 1996, has been with the Sox since June 2012. The former manager of the Windy City ThunderBolts in the independent Frontier League and the former head baseball coach at Robert Morris University in Chicago, he joined the Sox as a part-time, left-handed batting practice pitcher.
The Sox liked what he brought and offered him full-time work the next season. He jumped at the opportunity.
In addition to pitching batting practice and performing other preparatory tasks before games, he also became a video assistant a couple of years ago. He gets information to Sox manager Rick Renteria to help him decide whether he should challenge an umpire’s call.
Known to his friends as “Kash,” Kashirsky sees up close what is happening with the rebuilding Sox, and he is impressed.
“I attended the workout Friday morning last weekend, when they were kicking off SoxFest,” Kashirsky said. “It was great to see the guys, so great to see everybody.
“This is an electric group the Sox have coming up on the field, and it’s an awesome group off it. They’re hungry, they have pride in what they do and how they do it. You really can see success for them. These guys are just special. Even when some of them came up the past couple years, you could see it.”
Staying in shape
Himself a onetime Sox farmhand, Kashirsky relishes the opportunity to play a role in transforming the young prospects into the best major leaguers they can be.
“I know I have to take care of my arm. A big priority for me is to stay in shape,” said Kashirsky, who pitches to major leaguers from the Chicago area during the offseason. “I feel great.
“I’ve been officiating a lot of basketball, six or seven days a week, and Curtis [Granderson] started hitting with me a month early this offseason. I just left him, [Jason] Kipnis, Chris Johnson and Tim Anderson. Anderson has been in for a week.”
Kashirsky may cross paths this spring with versatile infielder Dean Anna, a Lincoln-Way East graduate who has briefly played in the big leagues with the Yankees and Cardinals and recently signed a minor-league deal with the Sox.
“I’m hoping this job with the White Sox lasts forever,” Kashirsky said.
That may happen, especially if he continues to make other contributions such as one he made last summer.
Sox first-base coach Daryl Boston is in charge of positioning outfielders defensively, but his whistling ability was not the best, so he was having trouble getting the outfielders’ attention from the dugout. Kashirsky gave him a couple of basketball official’s whistles. Problem solved.
Kashirsky termed the other major portion of his job, video replays, “very interesting. Just to have a huge basketball background, that really helps out from an official’s standpoint.
“I’ve been doing video for a couple of years, and it has gotten a lot easier. Getting used to the software was the hardest part. I’m not a real computer guy. It’s still a struggle.”
Kashirsky said he and the umpires whose calls he suggests be challenged have no interaction – it has to be that way.
“There is always that respect,” he said. “A lot of times, I’ll see umpires out at a restaurant or somewhere and we just say hello. They may not even realize it’s me.
“Now, the local guys like John Tumpane and Mark Carlson, of course, know me. We’ll talk about things, but not anything about calls that were made or challenges.”
Tumpane, an Evergreen Park native, was in the news as a hero last summer. He saved the life of a woman in Pittsburgh who threatened to commit suicide by jumping off the Roberto Clemente Bridge.
“I ran into John Tumpane at a DePaul basketball game [Sunday],” Kashirsky said. “We used to do lower-level basketball together. What an amazing, character guy. He’s a great person.
“That story from Pittsburgh last season, that’s him.”
• Dick Goss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.