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White Sox physician Kathy Weber reflects on last 15 years with team

Dr. Kathy Weber poses for a portrait in the Chicago White Sox training room at Guaranteed Rate Field, Wednesday morning, March 20, 2019. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

After the White Sox swept the defending World Series champion Red Sox in the American League Division Series in 2005, the crowded visitors’ clubhouse at Fenway Park turned into a zoo.

It reeked of cheap champagne, beer and cigar smoke. The combination of alcohol and smoke in such a confined space was so potent, your eyes would burn as soon as you stepped through the door.

Sox physician Kathleen Weber, who stands all of 5-3, was right in the middle of the chaos. She was drenched in champagne and God only knows what else when pitcher Mark Buehrle pulled her aside and handed her a dry T-shirt.

Though the real party would come after the Sox swept the Astros in the World Series nearly three weeks later, Weber never will forget that night.

“There’s been lots of fun memories,” said Weber, who has been with the Sox since 2004. “But that’s the one that always comes to mind.”

Weber, a sports-medicine physician with Midwest Orthopedics at Rush, always has been one of the only women in the training room. But she never has viewed it that way.

“I’ve never really thought of it as I’m the girl around town,” Weber said. “I thought of it as I’m a colleague. Fortunately, my partners also feel that I’m a colleague and I add something to the practice that they don’t have.”

Until recently, Weber was the only female trainer in Major League Baseball. Now she’s one of three women who diagnose and treat big-league players.

Weber, who also cares for the Bulls and the athletes at DePaul, plays one of the most valuable roles in the organization, though it often is overlooked by fans. She has treated some of the highest-profile Sox players in the last 15 years, from Buehrle and Paul Konerko to Jose Abreu and Michael Kopech.

Weber has helped the Sox through thick and thin. Just as she was there for the Sox’ champagne celebration when they won it all in 2005 in Houston, she was also on call when pitcher Danny Farquhar suffered a brain aneurysm in the dugout last season.

“I’ve seen life and death,” Weber said.

And that’s not an exaggeration.

On a typical day, Weber gets to Guaranteed Rate Field an hour before the game. She’ll look at a board on the wall to see which players — Sox and opponents alike — need to be examined. If there’s nothing pressing, she’ll check on some of the players’ rehab programs.

Weber said the training room is usually a fairly relaxed environment, but that can change in an instant — as it did when Farquhar collapsed in the dugout last April.

Though she wasn’t at the ballpark that day, her partner called her as soon as it happened. Weber’s first thought was that Farquhar had suffered a brain aneurysm, so she made arrangements at Rush to make sure doctors were ready when he arrived.

But the hardest part of that day might have been when Weber met with Farquhar’s wife, Lexie.

“When I met his wife for the first time, she was breastfeeding her child, and the reality of what could happen was just so stressful,” Weber said. “Even waiting for the neurosurgeon to call me when he was in the [operating room] with him, there was a little time delay from what I expected, and I was like, ‘Oh, God, I hope he’s doing OK.’”

Farquhar had a long road to recovery, and Weber was there every step of the way. Though it’s unusual for only one physician to aid a player’s rehabilitation, Farquhar’s situation wasn’t like other players’.

“Because he didn’t come back to the major-league stadium, he had to go and do rehab differently,” Weber said. “So I had to coordinate his care from [Guaranteed Rate Field] as he progressed. And when he went back home, I was in constant communication with him.”

Weber still texts with Farquhar occasionally, even though he’s in the Yankees’ organization now.

“A thing like that kind of bonds you pretty significantly,” she said.

Weber has seen just about everything during her tenure with the Sox. One of the funniest incidents in the training room came early in her career.

Weber was talking with several players before a game when a teammate of theirs ran through the room naked. He didn’t get far before he realized there was a woman in the room, too.

“He runs around, he looks at me and his eyes got so wide,” Weber said. “[He] covered his privates [with his hands], and he ran out as fast as he could. And everybody was laughing. It was hilarious. Everybody was hysterical.”

The player later apologized to Weber, who assured him it was no big deal.

“He came back to me later and said: ‘I’m really sorry. I didn’t realize you were in here,’” Weber recalled. “And I said: ‘Hey, I thought it was funny.’ And more so it was the expression on his face and how everybody reacted.”

Who was that player?

“I won’t tell you who the player was,” Weber said with a laugh. “It was early on in my tenure.”

Weber said it has been a dream come true to work for the Sox for the last 15 years. She knows how important her skills are to their success.

“If you don’t have a healthy team, you’ve got one more thing against you,” Weber said. “The goal of the training staff and medical staff is to provide the best medical care that you can to keep your athletes healthy, and that goes from a cold to Tommy John surgery.

“If you give good medical care and you can keep people healthy, you have more of a chance to be there at the end of the season and go into the playoffs.”

But next time the Sox make a championship run — which might be soon, Weber said — she’ll bring an extra pair of clothes.