CHICAGO -- White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who has run the club since 1981 and the NBA's Chicago Bulls since 1985, will be honored with the 2013 SBJ/SBD Lifetime Achievement Award during a ceremony at the Sports Business Awards in New York on Wednesday night.
"It's a pretty short list of people who have accomplished what he has accomplished in sports -- not just a sport, but in sports," said Scott Reifert, the White Sox senior vice president of communications. "You look at that level of influence over three-plus decades now. People don't own sports teams for 33 years anymore."
"To me, at least, he's one of the brightest individuals that I've ever had the pleasure of working with or seeing work," general manager Rick Hahn said. "I don't know [if] the people outside ... can really appreciate just how bright and how essential he is to all that operates around here, whether it be with the Bulls or the White Sox."
One request made by Reinsdorf in talking about this latest major award was that he not be deified, Reifert said. For more than three decades, Reinsdorf's accomplishments include six NBA titles with the Bulls, one unforgettable World Series title with the 2005 White Sox -- the club's first in 88 years -- and a great deal of influence felt in both leagues in which he has operated.
Just as important to those who work for and with him, Reinsdorf has been able to run the White Sox as a successful business while also maintaining a family atmosphere.
"You look around the organization at different places, and there are people who have worked here since they took over the team way back in the early '80s," said first baseman Paul Konerko, who has forged a 15-year bond with Reinsdorf. "That's a good thing. It definitely makes it more special when you see that.
"There have been a lot of instances over the years where something comes up with a player or a staff member or an employee, and you know it goes unsaid. People don't know on the outside that he takes care of it and really goes above and beyond what he has to do. It shows how much he cares about his employees.
"He likes to talk baseball. Personally, it is good to have a guy who runs the team that is a baseball fan that gets it, that gets how tough the game is."
Robin Ventura, who returned to manage the club largely because of Reinsdorf's support and the family feel within the organization, said that Reinsdorf will ask questions about certain game situations.
"It's one of those [situations] where he's the owner, so he gets the true answers. He doesn't get the 'It's none of your business,'" said Ventura with a smile. "He's a fan, too."
Reinsdorf's commitment has gone well beyond the field and into the community, but ultimately, he wants the focus to be on his teams and not himself, despite the many contributions that make him well deserving of this award.
"If the worst thing anybody can ever say about you is that you are too loyal, you are a pretty good person," Reifert said. "He doesn't go into a negotiation trying to beat the other guy. He goes in trying to make a deal that both sides leave happy.
"That's a long-term path for success. That's why you can last 33 years, because you are not trying to beat the other guy. You are trying for there to be two victories. If your counterpart walks away feeling that way, then you can do business the next time around, whether it's a trade or a concessions deal or sponsorship or a broadcast deal. There's a level of respect for everybody involved, and he's a great guy to work for."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin.