By Chris Emma-
CHICAGO (CBS) — Standing before a full house at U.S. Cellular Field, Ozzie Guillen raised his hand to the sun-filled sky of the South Side.
This was a day for Paul Konerko, the White Sox’s legend whose No. 14 now lives in franchise immortality. But there was a moment for Guillen, too. When emcee Hawk Harrelson introduced the former skipper, the sellout crowd arose from its seats. So did Guillen, who embraced this warm greeting.
“I am who I am because of 14,” said Guillen of Konerko. “That guy was outstanding.”
The salute to Konerko opened with the former captain walking from center field to home plate, with his legs shaking the whole way. The ceremony brought laughs, tears and memories of a special 16-year run with the White Sox.
Through it all was Guillen, who sat alongside his replacement, Robin Ventura, former bosses, Kenny Williams and Jerry Reinsdorf, and many more from a tremendous run. But when Guillen stood up and waved his hand to the crowd, a bitter divorce seemed to be in the past. The successes of Guillen’s run were brought to the forefront.
Everything just felt right again between Guillen and the White Sox. When will the former manager get a day in his honor?
“I hope I’m still alive, just to enjoy it,” joked Guillen of the possibility.
Guillen’s honor should come this year, 2015, with the 10-year anniversary of the White Sox’s World Series championship. His No. 13 should be retired next to Luis Aparicio’s 11 and Konerko’s 14.
Time has healed a bitter end between manager and ballclub, and the White Sox can’t move on without acknowledging what Guillen accomplished. Such a remarkable season and momentous triumph must be honored by the franchise.
“He’s going to be loved,” said Konerko of Guillen. “The bottom line is this is professional sports and the man won a World Series as the manager of the team. They’re going to love him here.”
The 2005 White Sox brought greatness to the city that hadn’t been seen since 1917. It was a group that represented its fan base, with unique characters and engaging personas. There were unforgettable moments, like Konerko’s grand slam, Scott Podsednik’s walk-off winner in Game 2, and the ground ball to Juan Uribe that was thrown to Konerko’s outstretched arm in Game 4 to win the World Series.
With the leadership and personality of Guillen, this White Sox team won a championship. It was a year that brought so much to the franchise. Chairman Reinsdorf said it was the most emotional time of his life.
A gesture between Guillen and the White Sox fan base rekindled memories for a brief moment on Saturday. But each remains ingrained in the leader of this championship and fans of the storied franchise.
This season, another ceremony is warranted for a White Sox great gone forgotten. Guillen deserves his chance to stand before a sellout crowd and receive the gratitude he deserves.
“We’ll see,” Guillen said. “I hope that happens one day.”
Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.