Paul Konerko excited to join White Sox greats like Harold Baines


Like most professional athletes, Paul Konerko never thought about getting his number retired while he was out on the diamond.

In classic Paulie fashion, he just let his play do the talking as he slowly became one of the most respected players to play with the White Sox. 

16 years, 432 home runs and a host of memories later on the South Side, the humble leader and former captain will watch his number be retired with the franchise greats on Saturday in front of a sold out U.S. Cellular Field before the White Sox take on the Minnesota Twins.

“Paulie can bring them in,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said before Saturday’s ceremony. “It’s a fun day for us. For a guy like Paulie to get his number retired, you always look at it as you’re happy that it’s sooner rather than later.” 

Konerko stopped by the clubhouse before yesterday’s win and introduced himself to former teammates and some of the new offseason additions including White Sox pitcher Jeff Samardzija.

The right-hander, who grew up rooting for the White Sox, is happy to see the fan base come out in big numbers to support one of baseball’s best leaders. 

“I’m excited to sit back and watch and see the fans’ reaction to him,” Samardzija said. “I was a fan for so long and to just see the way he went out on top with a ring on his finger is just outstanding.”

[RELATED: No regrets about retirement - but lots of hockey - for Konerko]

The White Sox have retired 10 numbers of the franchise’s history, including Jackie Robinson’s number, one that every MLB team has retired.

While his No. 14 will be sandwiched between Luis Aparicio’s No. 11 and Ted Lyons’ No. 16, one name posted behind home plate stands out above all else in Konerko’s eyes: Harold Baines. 

“Being on a list with Harold - and I know there’s a lot of great players out there and all that, but Harold for me, not just with the White Sox but in the game,” Konerko said. “His name has a ring. Players know. Maybe some of the guys now don’t know because they’re younger. But anybody who is my age or my age or older knows there’s just a certain ring to Harold Baines. So to be on a list with him and up on a wall with him. Same thing with Carlton Fisk. You know it’s just kind of a weird thing to think that I’m in that group or in this little club with them.”

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