Paulie, Paulie, Paulie… the familiar fan chant that thundered throughout Comiskey Park and U.S. Cellular Field whenever Paul Konerko came to bat rang out loud and clear during the White Sox game versus the Royals September 29th… But was it for the last time?
The big question during the off season on Chicago’s south side is… Will the six-time American League All-Star be back for his 18th big league season, or will he decide to hang em’ up, going down in history as one of the greatest players in White Sox history?
Only Paul knows the answer to that question, and according to published reports, even he doesn’t know for sure at this point.
So before I get preoccupied with shooting post season baseball for Major League Baseball Photos (actually, I am putting the finishing touches on this blog from the photo workroom deep inside the bowels of Busch Stadium, 4 hours prior to Game 5 of the NLDS), I thought it would be fun to take a pictorial look back, as seen through my lens, of Paul’s career. I feel quite privileged to have covered a large portion of his big league career, even while he was with the Dodgers during late 1997 and 1998.
I remember the trade the White Sox made with the Cincinnati Reds, bringing Paul to the Southside in exchange for another promising young player, Mike Cameron. At the time, it seemed like an even swap. In retrospect, the White Sox most definitely got the better end of that deal.
The future for the Chicago White Sox sure seemed bright, especially with the teams offensive nucleus built around the trio of Konerko, Frank Thomas and Magglio Ordonez.
Interestingly enough, it all came together in 2005 after the team lost Magglio Ordonez to free agency following the 2004 season. As good as the team looked in 2003 and 2004, looking good on paper, as most baseball fans unfortunately know, doesn’t necessarily equate to a guarantee of post season baseball come October.
But in 2005, the stars were aligned just right and it all came together for the Konerko led White Sox to their first World Series Championship in 88 years.
Paul’s intensity and work ethic were (are), in my opinion, second to none. He seems to be always thinking about his next at-bat, whether he is working around the batting cage or in the dugout between innings. To me, that trait was old school baseball.
His commitment to excellence and leadership by example led manager Ozzie Guillen to appoint him team captain in 2006.
As I mentioned, Paul is a six-time American League All-Star, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011 and 2012. The fans voted Konerko into the All-Star Game during the “Final Vote” contest.
I selfishly hope that Paul makes the decision to come back for one final year (with the White Sox, of course) so that baseball, particularly the fans, can return a little of the love that he gave us over the years in a send off similar to the ones given Chipper Jones last season and more recently Mariano Rivera.
I hope Paul gives baseball fans everywhere the opportunity to chant Paulie, Paulie, Paulie one last time…
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