Paul Konerko’s #14 Retirement

After I finished a 10 mile race at the 50 yard line of Soldier Field, I figured what better way to spend my afternoon than watching Paul Konerko have his number retired? Paul Konerko has always been my favorite Sox player. It’s just so easy to root for him. Even opposing fans and teams have always had the utmost respect for him as a player and competitor. It was easy to hate AJ, but Paul always let his work speak for itself.

For my birthday my mom got us tickets to the second (and yes Cubs fans, probably only) sell out of the season. Despite my achy knees and my short nap, I was VERY excited to see what the Sox had planned for the game and to enjoy the game with my mom.

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This was the first true sell out I believe I’d ever attended at Sox Park and I’ll say it was a different experience. The lines to get in were insane. I’d never seen it this crowded a full two hours before the game. They had a giveaway for the first 20,000 fans (a replica of the statue they put up in the outfield for Konerko) that despite our early arrival were we unable to procure. Not a huge loss, the day was less about a free statue and more about seeing Paulie one last time.

The marketing department did a great job with video tributes all throughout the ceremony and the game. I can neither confirm or deny if it got a little dusty in the stadium but tell me how you feel when you watch this video:

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Paul never was the great speaker that Michael was, but his speech was effective. He thanked all the usual suspects, and despite the microphone malfunction got the crowd pretty excited. As a special treat we got to hear quite a bit of Metallica. Paulie’s entrance song was always “Harvester of Sorrow” and they played an extended version when he made the long walk from center field to the mound. They also played “The Ecstasy of Gold” during one of the tributes.

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In the spirit of one of the video montage they played, my favorite Paul Konerko memory was when he hit a grand slam in game 2 of the World Series. The Sox would go on to win that game and sweep the series against the Astros, finishing the post season with an 11-1 record. The Sox winning the World Series remains my second favorite sports memory (behind IU beating Duke in the Sweet 16 my sophomore year of college). My second favorite PK memory is the game where he got hit in the face with a fastball and he stayed in the game. That’s insane. He got in the FACE with a FASTBALL and stayed in the game. The guy was a warrior and he did it all with a quiet confidence that every Sox baseball fan respected.

Thanks for the memories Paulie.

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