Derek Jeter’s farewell is a national story, but in Chicago, we’re also saying good-bye to a special player.
Paul Konerko is hanging them up after 16 years with the White Sox. While he never received the fanfare of a Jeter, he quietly put together an awesome career: 439 homers and six trips to the All-Star game.
Paulie has been all class, the kind of player you’d want to represent your franchise.
I have been watching the White Sox faithfully for nearly 50 years. Unfortunately, I have endured more bad than good.
However, I always will be grateful to Konerko for giving me my most memorable moment as a sports fan.
In Game 2 of the 2005 World Series, the Sox trailed 4-2 to Houston in the seventh. Konerko came up to face reliever Chad Qualls with the bases loaded.
Sitting next to me was father, Jerry, in what would be the last game he ever would see in person as a long-time Sox fan. At his side was my brother, Steve, who flew in from California so he could actually see the Sox in the World Series.
On my lap was my 8-year old son, Sam, who was starting his love affair with my team. Three generations of White Sox fans at one of their biggest moments in history.
As Konerko came to the plate, we all were hoping, make that, praying. “One time, Paulie. One time.”
Sure enough, Konerko creamed Qualls’ first pitch. You knew it was gone the moment he made contact. Grand slam, Sox lead!
The ballpark exploded. We jumped up and down, hugging each other.
In all my years of following sports, I never can recall that sense of exhilaration running through me. Pure joy. It was as if I finally was being rewarded for all those years of frustration.
It’s the one sports moment that will stay with me forever. Thanks, Paulie.