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Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Gillaspie's friends in tornado's path

By Doug Padilla

CHICAGO -- Chicago White Sox infielder Conor Gillaspie said he has been unable to reach two former college teammates, who live near the area devastated by Monday's tornado in Oklahoma.

Gillaspie, an avid weather junkie who is a native of Kansas, said that two players from his Wichita State days live in the area of Moore, Okla., which took the brunt of a storm that packed winds of up to 200 mph and caused a reported 24 deaths, not to mention untold property damage.

Gillaspie sounded confident that the people he knows were not among the casualties.

"Obviously I can't get a hold of anybody," Gillaspie said. "I'm sure if there would have been a loss of life, I probably would have heard of it by now. I just can't get a hold of anybody because all the cellphones are down, phones are down, power's pretty much out everywhere in that area. It's a sad day for a lot of people down there. I feel for them. I've been around destruction like that."

A self-described storm chaser, Gillaspie has always been drawn to weather and the reason that storms like Monday's are able to become so powerful.

"This is pretty much the third or fourth year in a row that we've had a tornado of this magnitude,” he said. “A couple of years ago it was in Alabama and Mississippi, then Joplin, Mo., and now Oklahoma again.

"It's pretty much every year in that same two or three counties down there where you see this happen. It's unfortunate, but it could have been a lot worse. I know it's horrific for the people that have lost lives down there and I feel awful for them. It could have been a lot worse.”

Gillaspie is thinking of ways he can help, including a potential trip to Oklahoma on an upcoming off day to help with the cleanup efforts.

"There's not a whole lot of words that can describe I'm sure what those people saw and what they heard that day," Gillaspie said. "You hear the analogy that it sounds like a freight train. If you watch enough videos and you watch as many YouTube's as you can of people filming these tornadoes, I can only imagine just the sound those things put off. I'm not in any position to ever judge that right now. It's disheartening."