Without question, Paul Konerko enjoyed a long and successful career with the Chicago White Sox. And the signature moment of his tenure — his grand slam off of Chad Qualls to win game two of the 2005 World Series — has to be considered the greatest baseball moment Chicago has seen, certainly in the lifetime of anyone reading this piece. To borrow a phrase from Abraham Lincoln, it is altogether fitting and proper for that moment to be preserved for all White Sox fans to see in the future.
A Paul Konerko statue was unveiled at the White Sox’ game against the Royals on Saturday night, and it was a complete surprise to everyone in attendance, Konerko included. Not only was this a surprise, it was a secret that nobody spilled in advance on social media. Kudos to the White Sox for not only conceiving this tribute, but for carrying it out in away that makes for a great story.
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The day after the Paul Konerko statue’s unveiling, on the final game of Konerko’s career, the poseability of the statue was in full effect. White Sox fans by the hundreds — many of them wearing Konerko’s number 14 jersey themselves — stood in line to have their pictures taken with the statue.
Like the rest of the statues at U.S. Cellular Field — and unlike a lot of other statues honoring baseball players at other ballparks — Konerko’s replica is not on a pedestal, meant only to be admired from below. Fans can, and most certainly did, pose alongside the player they call “Paulie” and create a shot to be shared on Instagram or tweeted out to everyone who wasn’t at the game. It’s as if fans can place themselves into the picture when Konerko changed the course of the 2005 World Series. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen before, and I have to say it’s a very cool idea.
I wasn’t inclined to wait to have my picture taken with the statue, but I can completely understand why any Sox fan would want to do so. This was their moment, when they will always tell their friends and family about where they were and how they felt when they saw the ball leave Konerko’s bat and head toward the left field wall.
Sox manager Ozzie Guillen says that was the moment when he knew they were going to win the Series, and he’s probably not alone in that assessment, either. What White Sox fan wouldn’t want to stand alongside Paulie as he hit that home run? There aren’t any that I can think of. Again, Kudos to the White Sox for honoring Konerko in this way, and giving their fans a photo op at the ballpark for years to come.