By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — The hairline may be a tad further back, but Paul Konerko at age 40 still looks like he could handle the bat.
The iconic White Sox slugger will have his uniform retired in special tribute before Saturday’s game. Having played 16 years in Chicago, Konerko holds the team record for total bases and is second in home runs and RBIs, behind Frank Thomas.
Living in Scottsdale, Ariz. in retirement, the former first baseman said there are only a few things he misses from the 162-game grind of the Major League Baseball season.
“I have not watched any baseball, except some White Sox baseball,” said Konerko, who retired at the end of the 2014 season. “If I have stuff going on, I am not racing home to watch a game … Truthfully, when the hockey playoffs are on, it will take a back seat to that. I certainly miss some of the people.”
Konerko has a lot of daddy duty these days with three young children and some time to hit the links when they’re in school.
“I am super busy with a lot of different things,” he said. “When I was playing for seven months, baseball just dominates your life every minute. Now, I have a lot of other things going on in a given day. I do have some things that cause stress, but I have plenty going on to keep me busy.”
Konerko has had some fun times in retirement, such as spending a week at Wayne Gretzky’s fantasy hockey camp. He took the advice of ex-players who had retired before him.
“A lot of guys I talked to said, ‘Listen, you have to find things to do,’” Konerko said. “When you go home, they said, ‘You can only play so much golf.’ I definitely have a lot of stuff going on to keep me sharp.”
Konerko didn’t rule out returning to the game at some point. He did make it clear that it wouldn’t be for a long time, if ever at all. He also wasn’t sure what to expect Saturday when it came to emotions or perspective on having his uniform being only one of 11 in franchise history to be retired.
“It has been only now over the last few weeks where I have thought about it,” he said. “It is not something as a kid you think about and think is attainable. Even when you’re playing, you just don’t think that can happen to you. This is just a byproduct of circumstances that occurred. It is pretty cool to think how few have had this happen, considering how long the team has been around. It’s pretty special having Harold Baines here and Carlton Fisk. Harold for me — his name in baseball, not just White Sox (history), has a ring to it. To be in a group with them is pretty cool.”
When asked for a career highlight, Konerko hesitated as 16 years floated through his mind.
“I remember most things,” he said. “The other things are well-documented. The (Mark) Buerhle and (Philip) Humber perfect games and the (World Series) parade I am looking at with a different angle. Those things stand out. We went out after those events and celebrated the parade was like something out of a whole other universe. That still feels more different than anything you can imagine. Thirty years from now, you could say you might forget all the rest of it. The parade is something I would not forget.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.