Ozzie 'back with my family' at SoxFest

Former White Sox player, skipper flew in from Venezuela, wants to work with organization

January 26th, 2019

CHICAGO -- Ozzie Guillen returned home on Friday night.

The man who played shortstop for the White Sox from 1985-97 and then managed eight years on the South Side, including the 2005 World Series championship season, made his first appearance at SoxFest since 2011. He received a rousing ovation when introduced during Friday's opening ceremonies at the Hilton Chicago, with fans chanting his name, and then took part in a seminar focused on Mark Buehrle's 2009 perfect game alongside Dewayne Wise and executive vice president Ken Williams.

Williams even had the crowd sing "Happy Birthday" to Guillen, who turned 55 on Jan. 20 and flew in from Caracas, Venezuela, on Thursday to be part of this weekend. It could be the first step in bringing Guillen back to the place where he belongs.

"I want to. I have a job right now. But I want to go there, bring my granddaughter to the game," said Guillen prior to his Friday seminar. "I raised my kids being a White Sox fan. Now raising my granddaughter to be a White Sox fan. It would be nice for our family to be happy and be part of it.

"[White Sox chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf] is like my father. He is always going to be. He's a guy who gave me a chance to play in the big leagues and manage in the big leagues. I'm very excited. I'm very pleased. I'm very humbled, because I'm back with my family, back with the people I grew up with, back with the people I know for so many years."

Reinsdorf and Guillen talk all the time, per Guillen, and said everything is "cool" between them. The same holds true for Guillen's relationship with Williams, with the duo operating more like brothers than front-office personnel in building the first White Sox title in almost nine decades, prior to an acrimonious finish.

But it seemed just like old times on Friday, listening to Guillen and Williams during a 45-minute session worthy of a local comedy club stage.

"Me and Kenny always have a good relationship. People thought a different way," Guillen said. "We have a job in the past -- it's not an easy job to do. We have a couple of lunches and dinners through the [2018] season, maybe four or five times, and we are cool. You talk to Kenny and me right now, two different monsters, two old men talking about baseball, and I like that."

In vintage Guillen form, he told reporters about his trouble remembering what happened for Buehrle and the White Sox on July 23, 2009, against the Rays, because "there were a few vodkas between that day and today." Once he got going, though, Guillen had no issue.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn welcomed Guillen back in his SoxFest press conference, adding he still believes Guillen should be managing in the big leagues. It's an idea Guillen hasn't given up, although he certainly didn't list White Sox manager as his dream job upon return.

"You know what? I don't believe in dreams. I believe in facts," Guillen said. "I can help. I know about baseball a little bit. I can help the organization in different ways. We have a manager and I respect him. I'm not coming here to look for a managerial job. That's the last thing I think about. I just want to help the organization the way I can."