CHICAGO -- Call it rehearsing for the big debut in front of 24,000.
Whatever practice Minnie Driver put into her ceremonial first pitch prior to the White Sox 6-4 victory over the Tigers on Friday at U.S. Cellular Field, it paid dividends. The Academy Award-nominated actress threw a strike to John Danks in her official baseball capacity, after practicing with catcher A.J. Pierzynski during their appearance on Windy City Live on Friday morning.
Driver was in town representing the Starlight Children's Foundation and their 25th Annual Gala, where she will make a guest appearance for the black-tie event at the Standard Club in Chicago. The Starlight Children's Foundation helps "seriously ill children and their families cope with their pain, fear and isolation through entertainment, education and family activities," according to the organization's website.
Helping out children in need makes the whole celebrity thing worthwhile, in the estimation of the charming Driver.
"Celebrity is a very weird thing," said Driver before taking to the mound on Friday. "It's mostly like a sort of useless limb. And every once in a while, it kind of, you can use it for good effect. This is one of those things, shining a light on philanthropic causes. It's just great.
"Anything that is helping children and their families, a sick child, I don't think there's anything sadder or worse in the world. This foundation creates opportunities for those children to get away from their disease for an evening, or have a day with their family where they get to be actual children again and not a child with a life-threatening or terminal disease."
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen provided his in-person support to a Starlight Foundation fundraiser during the past offseason. On Friday, he watched the Good Will Hunting star show off her throwing arm.
Aside from the practice sessions leading up to the pitch, it was Driver's first such activity. It rivaled the nerves of sitting in the audience and waiting for the Best Actress in a Supporting Role to be named at the 1998 Academy Awards.
"You know what? They are pretty neck and neck. I would say pretty neck and neck," a smiling Driver said. "It's horrifying, but very fun. I love baseball."
During the filming of Good Will Hunting, Driver adopted the Red Sox as her team. But she also found a great affinity for Chicago when filming Return to Me in this city in 2000. Friday's moment gave Driver a direct connection to the South Side, specifically.
"I got a good feeling about this season for the White Sox," Driver said.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Being Ozzie Guillen, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.