A Season–and a Reunion Weekend–to Remember
Monday, July 20, 2015
A Fitting Finale
In the finale of the 2005 World Championship Reunion Weekend, close to 1,000 die-hard White Sox fans gathered for “A Season to Remember” celebration at the iconic Chicago Theatre to honor their ’05 heroes and to benefit Chicago White Sox Charities.
It was an emotion-filled evening as panels of players and skipper Ozzie Guillen shared a plethora of stories and insights about the run to the World Series title. There were also video presentations that included some of the most memorable moments of the season and in-depth interviews with members of the team. Comedian Pat McGann, a Sox fan himself, added a good measure of levity.
Here are some highlights:
Panel 1 — Moderator Chuck Garfien of CSNChicago and players Carl Everett, Timo Perez, Pablo Ozuna and Willie Harris.
Harris was asked why he was nowhere to be found in the clubhouse during the various clubhouse celebrations when the Sox clinched the Central Division, the American League Division Series, AL Championship Series and World Series. His answer? He’s allergic to champagne.
Garfien asked Harris about the four fingers he held up in the dugout at certain points during the playoffs. Harris explained that it represented Group 4, the Sox bench crew that consisted of players such as Willie, Pablo, Timo, Geoff Blum and Chris Widger, who had a special bond and were committed to being ready when called upon. He also made a point of giving Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye credit for caring about and supporting the Group 4 guys.
Willie, of course, scored the only run in the decisive Game 4 of the fall classic as the Sox prevailed, 1-0. He led off the eighth inning with a single, moved to second on Scott Podsednik‘s sac bunt, to third on Everett’s groundout and trotted home on Dye’s game- and series-winning RBI single. Harris called that base hit the “highlight of my life, the highlight of my career.” And when asked what items he kept from that season, he said, “I have memories and love for this team.”
Everett, a hard-nose player in his day, joked around with Perez when Timo was struggling with his English, playfully acting as his interpreter. Ozuna’s words were heartfelt and it was apparent that winning in 2005 meant a lot to him.
Panel 2 — Moderator McGann, Bobby Jenks, Dustin Hermanson, Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, Jon Garland and Cliff Politte. Ozzie Guillen Jr. was called up to translate for El Duque just as he did in 2005.
Needless to say, pitching was the focus of this panel. The demonstrative El Duque stood up and walked to the front of the stage at the beginning of the session and started speaking to the crowd. He finally asked for Guillen Jr. to help him and they both sat down on the comfortable sofa provided for the players.
El Duque was asked about one of ’05’s iconic moments–coming in to pitch with the bags full in the sixth inning of Game 3 of the ALDS and proceeding to retire three straight Boston hitters. Hernandez admitted, “I wanted to pitch in the playoffs, but not come in with the bases loaded.” He then went on to say that those were the circumstances and he felt that he had to get the job done.
McGann also asked El Duque if he felt pressure in that situation. Hernandez laughed and said, “I pitched in Cuba a lot of years. That’s pressure.” Not to mention, of course, his harrowing escape to the United States.
Garland said that from the time El Duque spoke to the players in spring training that year he had the utmost respect for him. Jon also talked about the starting rotation throwing a remarkable four straight complete games in the ALCS. Garland pitched a four-hit CG in Game 3.
Jenks, who arrived during the regular season, gave a lot of credit to Hermanson, who was a lockdown closer before hurting his back. Jenks revealed that he “didn’t know what the hell I was doing” when he first came up, which is where Hermanson came in to provide some mentorship.
Dustin thanked God he was part of this team and remembered that as a kid playing in the backyard he dreamed of playing in the Series. And he did it in 2005 after missing much of the season with his injury.
Politte, who was one of the bullpen’s shining stars that season, said he had one regret from ’05. It was that he wished at least one of the victories among the division, ALDS, ALCS and World Series would have been clinched at home for the fans.
Cliff also said: “I’ve played on a few teams, but this was the first organization, starting with Jerry (Reinsdorf), where being a family really meant somethng. It was an honor to play here.”
Panel 3 — Moderator Garfien, manager Guillen, Dye, Podsednik and Konerko.
Ozzie talked about how easy it was to manage this team from Day One. And he made the following revelation: “I’m the biggest White Sox fan.”
Dye talked about agreeing to join the Sox before the 2005 season only to get a better offer from Texas shortly after. Jermaine said he talked to his Dad, who said that he raised his son to honor his commitment.
Pods, of course, was asked to talk about his walkoff homer in Game 2 of the Series and admitted it would have been more consistent with his game if he was known for a bunt or a stolen base. Scott then talked about how he focused on Konerko right after Paulie’s grand slam. “I just wondered what it felt like to do something like that in the World Series”–and he found out a couple of innings later. How does he describe it? “It’s really hard to put into words.”
Paulie talked about how the team that year was one group, all going in the same direction. He then coined a phrase that Garfien said would be perfect for a T-shirt:
Acknowledging that the ’05 Sox had very good players, PK said, “This team was more badass than talent.”
And how about the fans?
Pods: “Passion, Enthusiasm, Support.”
Dye: “Diehards. You guys are family and it made us step up to another level.”
The event ended with all the team members in attendance getting back on stage, tossing souvenirs to the crowd with confetti falling and the ’05 theme song, “Don’t Stop Believin’,” playing in the background.
It was a great night.
Tyler Saladino belted his first major-league homer to lead off the ninth inning in the 4-1 Sox loss. The rookie infielder is now batting .308…Matt Albers, fresh off the disabled list, tossed 2.2 scoreless innings in relief of Chris Sale.
Click on the link to see Tyler’s home run and there he is in the photo below crossing home plate after hitting No. 1.
Paulie, Jermaine On the Air
Konerko and Dye talked about being World Champions yesterday with Hawk and Steve Stone on the Sox telecast.
Sox Notes of Note
Prior to yesterday’s game, the Sox designated Conor Gillaspie for assignment, which made room for Albers…”El Duque” had the honor of throwing out yesterday’s ceremonial first pitch…RHP Carson Fulmer, the Sox’ No. 1 draft pick out of Vanderbilt, made his professional debut on Saturday with the White Sox team in the Arizona Rookie League. He tossed a scoreless inning, allowing one hit along with one strikeout.
White Sox vs. Cardinals at U.S. Cellular Field (7:10 p.m. CT, WPWR) in the opener of a two-game series. Probable Starters: LHP Carlos Rodon (3-2, 3.80) for the Sox, RHP Carlos Martinez (10-3, 2.52) for St. Louis.
Since today is an off day, many of the Sox players and front office execs will be participating in the Field of Greens Celebrity Golf Tournament at Harborside International Golf Course in Chicago. The tournament supports pediatric cancer research and treatment programs at local hospitals.
Photo of the Day
We knew Joe Crede could play, now we know he can tweet. Here he is taking over the @whitesox twitter acount yesterday.