April 23, 2021

Thanks, Paulie

October 3, 2014 by · 2 Comments 

Goodbye, Paulie.

The final weekend of baseball’s regular season saw the last game of a legendary American Leaguer who was tough in the clutch, a perennial All-Star, a favorite among fans and peers and a World Champion.

We’re speaking, of course, about White Sox slugger Paul Konerko.

That Konerko’s farewell season played out in the shadow of Derek Jeter’s final tour is frustrating, of course. But it’s also somehow appropriate. Paulie played in Chicago; Jeter in New York. Konerko was great; Jeter is a Hall of Famer. The White Sox are your beer-drinking cousins; the Yankees are your rich, sexy, smart neighbors.

With Konerko gone the White Sox now have no one left from their 2005 World Series winners though many of us anticipate a return someday of Mark Buehrle.

Konerko was not just the Sox’ best player for the past 16 seasons, he was Chicago White Sox to the core. He embodied everything about South Side baseball in that he always played hard, often was great, sometimes was disappointing, left us with far more joy than pain and while that was enough for most of us, it wasn’t enough to make the Pale Hose a perennial playoff team, much less the dynasty some thought would emerge nine years ago.

Paulie did all he could. He was class, he was heart, he was soul, he was a damn good hitter.

And he already has a statue in the outfield and it was so nice that his final homestand featured impressive crowds and kind weather. God doesn’t hate the White Sox. It’s just that the sun doesn’t always stretch to the South Side.

Actually, it can be argued that this was the sunniest baseball season ever on Chicago’s South Side considering the charming, contagious glow generated by the Jackie Robinson West Little League champs, a team that united Chicago like few others.

And Paul Konerko is loved by Chicagoans like few others. It’s too bad the Sox didn’t win more with him, but they did win more with him than just about anyone else. In New York or St. Louis playoff appearances are like popcorn but on Chicago diamonds they’re like gold and Konerko struck it rich as he’s the only player to ever play on three White Sox playoff teams (2000, 2005, 2008.)

It’s tough to say goodbye. Paulie’s departure makes 2005 recede a little further but, thankfully, it doesn’t make the future much murkier. The Sox have already found Konerko’s replacement in Jose Abreu who might be the rookie of the year and could someday be even better than Konerko.

A better player, maybe. But the South Side of Chicago, and all of baseball, has rarely seen a better person.

So long, Paulie. Your shadow looms large on the South Side. But it’s not a cold shadow. It’s the warm memory of the good times. It’s the unknown potential of better times.

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

2 Responses to “Thanks, Paulie”
  1. Burton says:

    Frank Thomas was also on three playoff teams,1993, 2000 and 2005.

  2. Terry Keshner says:

    Technically, Frank wasn’t on the 2005 roster. But he absolutely contributed to that team so yes, you’re right, should have been more clear and given Frank his due. The 2005 White Sox would not have made the playoffs without him. @Burton

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