CHICAGO | Conor Gillaspie couldn't keep his eyes of the images from Moore, Okla., as the White Sox prepared for Monday night's game.
“I was lost for 24 hours,” he said.
The newly-arrived third baseman — who has impressed manager Robin Ventura with his line-drive hitting — says he's glad to have been out of the lineup that night as social media and news coverage brought horror stories of the EF-5 tornado that left the Oklahoma City suburb flat as if a nuclear bomb had hit.
The tragedy hit home for Gillaspie. Two of his former Wichita State teammates grew up in Moore. Former pitchers Noah Booth and Clint McKeever both attended Westmoore High School, which was severely damaged by another tornado in 1999.
Gillaspie lives just a few hours north of the stricken zone near Wichita, Kan., also squarely in “Tornado Alley.” He's witnessed “monster wall clouds rotating” 100 yards away from him.
“When you live on that I-35 corridor from Wichita to Oklahoma City, it’s different man; there’s a different feel in the air," Gillaspie said. "I really feel the pain those people felt. The power of something like that is something most guys in this room don’t know.”
Gillaspie is a weather bug who was excited to meet WGN meteorologist Tom Skilling earlier this season. Throughout the day Monday, he checked websites of storm chasers trailing the Moore twister, watching from afar as the normally calm, professional chasers issued doomsday-style warnings for people to get underground immediately.
The 25-year-old hopes he and some teammates can go to Moore on an off day to help in the cleanup. Other Sox players — including ace Jake Peavy, who affected by a similarly strong twister in 2011 that tore through Tuscaloosa in his native Alabama — have expressed interest in helping as well.
"Count me in — and print that," ace Jake Peavy said Wednesday.