White Sox to retire Paul Konerko’s #14 tonight.
2014 was Paul Konerko’s last season. As planned, Paulie spent the year as a pinch hitter and part-time player — and as a mentor to some of the younger players.
Here’s 14 “Paulie Things” from his 16 years with the White Sox. They are in no particular order and some are obscure or just plain silly.
Paulie’s Last Weekend.
The White Sox ended the season at home (vs. the Royals). This enabled Sox fans to give Paul Konerko a proper sendoff. I was fortunate to attend the three weekend games. No surprise — Paulie received a standing ovation with each at bat.
On Friday, the Royals beat the White Sox 3-1 behind Jeremy Guthrie. The win clinched a playoff spot for the Royals — their first visit to the playoffs since they won the “I-70” World Series in 1985 over the Cardinals. That Royals team featured Bret Saberhagen (Series MVP) and George Brett.
In the picture, the Royals celebrate their victory over the Sox while donning some kind of “playoff” shirt.
On Saturday, the Sox held a pre-game ceremony to say goodbye to Paulie.
From my view, all I could see was Paulie’s back. Note the Royals players all standing on the top step and applauding as Paulie moves to the podium. During his speech, Paulie congratulated the Royals, and apologized to them for delaying the start of the game.
My favorite line in Paul’s farewell speech was when he thanked the fans. It began, “I’m not even going to say fans, I’m going to say friends. All my friends in this building right now…”
Paul was presented with many gifts. The “14” frame contains baseballs signed by all his current teammates and coaches. Other gifts included a portrait and a guitar.
Season Ticket holders received a replica of the painting that Paulie received from the White Sox.
Finally, Jerry Reinsdorf called for the balloons to be released unveiling the Paul Konerko statue. It is located in left field, next to the Frank Thomas statue, and features Paulie’s pose as he rounded first base following his World Series Grand Slam.
Paul was also presented with a smaller version of the statue, and the “fan version” will be distributed at tonight’s game.
Of course, the White Sox won the “Paul Konerko Day” game — 5-4 behind Jose Areu’s 36th HR and two round trippers by Josh Phegley. Johnnie Danks go the W.
On Sunday, Paul was replaced mid-game by Andy Wilkins, and he received his final standing ovation.
Thank You Video.
Toward the end of the season, the White Sox released a video of Paulie writing and narrating a thank you letter to fans interspersed with shots of Paul working alone in the batting cage. This video was Paul’s idea and he helped create the content and theme.
Back-to-Back with Jermaine.
On April 13, 2009, Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko each hit their 300th career home run — Back-to-Back! It’s pretty safe to say that that will never happen again.
White Sox season ticket holders were given a memento of the occasion.
One of Paulie’s nicknames is “King”. The Konerko King of Clubs (holding a baseball bat) was one of about a dozen mini-posters that the Sox produced some years ago.
A lesser known nickname among the players was “Slash”. Paulie was very intense and following a tough loss the other players were afraid that he would slash his wrists.
In 2014, Paul Konerko was named co- winner of the Roberto Clemente Award (with Jimmy Rollins). This award recognizes players who best represent the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement.
Following the 2005 season, Paulie was a free agent sought after by many teams. The KonerkoMeter web site analyzed each day’s rumors and moved the needle accordingly.
Paulie reportedly turned down bigger contracts from a couple teams.
Stealing Bases — 4 at a Time
This was from a commercial that the Sox ran one year that featured a bunch of Konerko homeruns. Of course, Paul was one of the slowest runners in the majors and often made fun of his lack of speed.
It may surprise you to find out that Paulie was 9-for-12 in stolen base attempts for the White Sox — once swiping 2 in one year.
Inside the Park Homer.
Unlikely as it seems, Paulie once had an Inside-the-Park Homerun. (link below)
Charities & Farewell Tour.
As evidenced by Paul’s Roberto Clemente Award, Paul was a contributor off the field.
In 2007, Paul and Jim Thome, working with children’s home + aid launched the “Bring Me Home” campaign. Sox fans pledged a given amount to contribute for every run that Paulie or Jim scored during the season. After Jim left the Sox, Gordon Beckham partnered with Paulie.
One nice thing about a Farewell Tour is that you can receive those ginormous checks made out to your favorite charity.
Of course, Paulie’s Farewell Tour did not get the publicity of the presentations for future 1st ballot Hall-of-Famer Derek Jeter, but Paulie was honored in many of the opponents’ parks for playing the game “the right way”.
Future White Sox Jeff Samardzija presented Paulie with #14 from the Wrigley Field Scoreboard.
In Yankee Stadium, Derek Jeter presented Paulie with a base signed by the Yankees.
From Tigers Omar Vizquel at Comerica Park.
One last gift to mention as reported on the SportsPickle web site —
This story contrasts Paulie’s low key Farewell Tour with that of Derek Jeter. It points out many of Paulie’s accomplishments and areas where he bested Jeter (career OPS,HRs, RBIs). According to this article, “With all those accomplishments in mind, MLB did not overlook Konerko and honored him with a $20 Amazon gift card.”
In the article, Paulie is quoted as saying, “It’s nice to be remembered…I got an email this morning from Amazon…baseball had ordered gift card for me. Apparently every team chipped in, so that’s pretty cool.”
A link to the complete story is shown below.
In case you’re not quite sure about this, the site SportsPickle specializes in satire.
For several years, I was part of a group that split a Season Tickets Package. One year, our draft happened to be on March 5 — Paulie’s birthday.
So, in addition to the normal draft night food of hotdogs, nacho’s, peanuts, etc., we had a birthday cake.
This happened on the last Saturday of the 2014 season — Paul Konerko Day. But, I didn’t include it there because I think that Chris Claeys deserves his own item.
Chris Claeys caught Paulie’s Grand Slam in game-2 of the World Series. During the pre-game ceremonies, Chris surprised Paulie by presenting him with the baseball!
As you might guess, Chris received some autographed stuff from the White Sox and was their guest for that Saturday Night’s game. What you would never guess is that Chris caught a foul ball in the 3rd inning hit by —- wait for it —- Paul Konerko!
Last Halloween, Southpaw was disguised as Paul Konerko.
Note the name on Sothpaw’s back.
Sold to raise money for White Sox Charities.