Our Captain, Our Hero, Our Legend.
On September 27, 2014, the city of Chicago celebrated Paul Konerko Day at U.S. Cellular Field.
That night was by far one of the greatest ever. The retiring of our captain was done in style. Guests ranged from Paul Konerko’s family, the 2005 World Series Champions, coaches, managers, and of course the team that has held his back, the White Sox.
I for one was not emotionally prepared for this day. Seeing this man play for such a long time is incredible. Every time he stepped on the plate, it was magical. The moment Ken “Hawk” Harrelson began the ceremony, tears began to roll down my face because a true legend to the city of Chicago was hanging his cleats and shutting off all the lights to finish a magnificent 16 season journey.
For Konerko, his dream of playing baseball began when he was drafted in the first round (13th overall) of the 1994 MLB Draft, by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1997. Konerko was then traded in 1998 to join the Cincinnati Reds, and then in good ol’ 1999 Konerko made his move to the Southside, where he will forever be the hero to the game, the organization, and to every fan.
Career over the years:
1997 Season- Made his major-league debut on September 8 against Florida, collecting a pinch single off Dennis Cook (first at-bat).
1998 Season- Hits his first major-league home run June 6 at Seattle, a solo shot off Bob Wells.
1999 Season- Made his White Sox debut on April 5 at Seattle and hit his first home run in a Sox uniform in the sixth inning, a two-run shot off Jeff Fassero.
2000 Season- Collected an RBI in nine consecutive games from July 2-16. He hit an inside-the-park home run on April 11 at Tampa Bay.
2001 Season- He fell an RBI shy of 100.
2002 Season- He batted above .300 and recorded 100 RBI for the first time in his career.He also went 2 for 2 with two doubles and two RBI in his first All-Star appearance at Milwaukee’s Miller Park. He finished third in the Home Run Derby with 12 home runs. He also hit his 100th career home run on June 22 at Atlanta.
2003 Season- He was named AL Player of the Week for the first time in his career on August 25-31.
2004 Season- He fell two home runs short of becoming the first Sox player to lead the AL since Dick Allen in 1974.
2005 Season- He hit five home runs and 15 RBI in the postseason as the Sox won their first World Series since 1917. He was named ALCS MVP. He was also the third player in major-league history to hit first-inning home runs in back-to-back games of the same postseason (Games 3 and 4 at Los Angeles). His grand slam off of Houston’s Chad Qualls in the seventh inning of Game 2 of the World Series gave the Sox a 6-4 lead. He became the first player in World Series history to hit a grand slam in the seventh inning or later that turned to a deficit into a lead.
2006 Season- He was named team captain prior to the season. Joining Frank Thomas (1993-1997) and Magglio Orodonez (2000-2004), he became the third player in White Sox history to record three consecutive 30-home run, 100-RBI seasons.
2007 Season- He hit 30 home runs for the fourth consecutive season (fifth overall), the second-longest streak in White Sox history behind Frank Thomas (five from 1993-1997).
2008 Season- He hit the final home run by an opponent at Yankee Stadium on September 18. He also hit solo home runs in Game 1 and Game 4 of the ALDS against Tampa Bay.
2009 Season- He and Jermaine Dye became the first teammates in major-league history to hit century milestone homers of at least 300 in the same game on April 13 at Detroit.
2010 Season- He finished fifth in the Most Valuable Player voting after ranking among the AL leaders in home runs (2nd), slugging percentage (4th), on-base percentage (tied for 5th), RBI (6th) and average (8th, .312).
2011 Season- He posted his fourth career .300/30/100 season. Recorded and extra-base hit in a club-record nine straight games from May 30-June 10 and homered in five straight from June 17-June 21, tying the club record. He also collected his 2,000th career hit on August 23 at the Angels and hit his 10th career grand slam on September 8 vs. Cleveland, tying Robin Ventura’s club record.
2012 Season- He played in his 2,000th career game on April 7 at Texas and hit his 400th career homer on April 25 at Oakland. He hit his 400th home run with the Sox on May 27 vs. Cleveland and played in his 2,000th game with the club on July 18 at Boston.
2013 Season- Konerko collected his 2,137th hit with the White Sox on April 5th vs. Seattle, passing for third in Team History. He also played in his 2,116th game with the Sox on June 10 vs. Toronto, passing Nellie Fox for second place in franchise history.
2014 Season- Paul Konerko is completing his 16th with the White Sox, tied with Thomas (1990-2005) for the fifth-longest tenure in franchise history and second-longest among active players behind the Yankees Derek Jeter. He also collected his 3,950th total base with the Sox on April 23 at Detroit, breaking the club record held by Thomas. He also hit his 400th double with the Sox on May 7 vs. the Cubs.
- His 439 home runs rank 42nd all-time and fifth among active players.
- One of 37 players in major-league history to record 400 doubles and 400 home runs.
- Owns the White Sox record with 13 seasons of 20 or more home runs.
- Made a franchise-record 13 consecutive Opening Day starts at first base from 2001-2013.
- Is a six-time American League All-Star (2002, 2005-2006, 2010-2012).
- Ranks second all-time in interleague play with 60 home runs and tied for second with 179 RBI.
As this long baseball season comes to an end, I conclude this post by saying that Paul Konerko is a true Chicago legend. He has done so much for the city and for the organization. He is a true class act and determined individual. Through the years Paul Konerko has had big offers made to him, but decided to stay true to a goal of playing almost his entire career with the Sox. Thank you, Paulie for all of the fond memories and thrilling 16 season ride. As a fan, you made baseball a sport that I love and made the White Sox a team I treasure the most.
"I’m proud that when it made sense on paper not to come back that I stuck to doing what I wanted to do since I was young, seeing this through with one team. Anguish, sleepless nights and all."-Paul Konerko