White Sox old and new share Konerko memories
A plethora of highlight-reel memories have come from 16 years of Paul Konerko's White Sox excellence, a run which ends this Sunday, when Konerko hangs up the cleats after 18 years in the game. MLB.com asked a few of Konerko's teammates, both new and old, and members of the White Sox organization to share a few of those leading up to the captain's retirement.
Conor Gillaspie, White Sox third baseman
"For the most part, everybody talks about some of the things that he did on the field. What I'm probably going to miss the most is the little talks and the little bits and pieces that I take from him on the plane or after games, or just things that he's learned over the years that he's shared with me that sound familiar to something I may be going through at the time. Those are the things that probably leave the biggest impact with me is stuff off the field. I wasn't fortunate enough to see him in his prime when he was playing, so I couldn't tell you really other than his numbers were incredible. It's more about the talks on the plane and at the hotel or after games."
Chris Sale, White Sox starting pitcher
"My first day here, when I signed, he was the first guy that came up to me. He showed me through the entire clubhouse. That's just who he is. That's the kind of guy that he is. This is his team. He's the guy. It's his clubhouse. I guess for lack of a better word, this is his team, his city. This is him. This is what Paul is. That's just what he has been about for his whole career, and especially since I've been here. It has been fun to watch."
Jordan Danks, White Sox outfielder
"Usually he comes in and whenever we make eye contact, he looks at me and asks, 'What do you got for me?' in the form of a movie quote or something funny or something I watched on YouTube today. So I have to do my research or get on my iPad to get something funny. I have to be his entertainment. I've picked his brain a bunch over the past three years, and it's going to be really cool to be able to say, 'I played with Paul Konerko. He was a teammate of mine.' It has been really fun."
Rick Hahn, White Sox general manager
"It's easy to go to the [2005 Game 2 World Series] grand slam. That's a big one. But the lasting memory or the image I probably have of him is -- and probably because there's a picture of it in my office -- the image of him after he caught the ball at first base in the [American League Championship Series], running toward the mound with a big smile on his face, celebrating. It sort of encapsulated the euphoria that the players and White Sox Nation felt at that time in one picture. And there wasn't a guy more appropriate to capture that emotion than Paul."
Adam Eaton, White Sox center fielder and leadoff man
"It's probably his overall work ethic when it comes to persistence. That's what he's more renowned with the players and the coaches. He goes about his work very professionally and very relentlessly until he finds something that works for him or that he feels is necessary to get where he feels comfortable. I hit with him in the offseason in his cage, and just his thought process and him talking out loud about how to get to where he needs to be was eye-opening to me that someone going into his last year, that was going to be a player-coach, is still going about his work intelligently and hard. It was amazing."
John Danks, White Sox starting pitcher
"Having been with him for eight years now, he's always the guy who is looking. … We get into a new city and he's wanting to take guys out to dinner. Come up to his room and play guitar and watch the football game. I'll remember those parts. Obviously, the time we spent together here at the field and on the plane and hotels, what not, I think that's what I'll take away. You can't stop there with Paul. He's got it all, he really does. That's not just saying that. He's a good leader, he's a good ballplayer, obviously. He's a pretty good guitar player. He's a man of many traits. Pretty consistent. You know what you are going to get, and I've enjoyed my time with him."
Andy Wilkins, White Sox first baseman/designated hitter
"This spring, we really got to know each other pretty well. There was a moment when we played the Royals, and he was hitting behind me. I'm not sure of the pitcher, but I think it was [Danny] Duffy. He was DHing that day, and he really didn't want to have to lead off the inning. He really wanted me to get a hit. He was telling me as I was going on deck, 'Hey, get a hit right here. We need you to get a hit.' That was his last at-bat of the day, so he was ready to go. That was pretty cool. Just to be able to have a moment where you are just like a teammate. It's obviously a guy in the organization you look up to. He's been awesome to me. He treats you just like a normal human being. You would never know anything different. He's been really great."
Tyler Flowers, White Sox catcher
"All the humorous ones in my head aren't shareable. Knowing the guy and having become pretty good friends with him, there are so many adjectives you can use to describe him: from his analytical side to his political side. One of the moments that stands out to me is when he got hit at Wrigley in the face [by Jeff Samardzija pitch in 2012]. Everyone knows he's tough, but that kind of puts it on a new level. Not that I didn't have a tremendous amount of respect before that. But even more so just to see it physically, it was obviously scary at first, and then it was just, you see why he's done what he has done with his career. That's just a small piece. That's just something that's easier for people to visually relate to and see. He's done a ton of other things in this game and for this organization, but that one sticks out to me as the toughness and character of the guy."
Scott Carroll, White Sox pitcher
"With this being my first year and being around Paulie and getting to play next to him and with him, he's still just a student of the game. He's so technical and very analytical. That's something to appreciate. It shows you the work he has put in to last this long and be good for this long. It's something that I've tried to just pick his brain about and try to learn some things. He has so much information to give out and things that he has seen. At this stage of his career and for us, just being a guy who is giving out knowledge and answering as many questions as possible, he's been a big help for me."
Jose Abreu, White Sox first baseman
"Paulie is a person who cares about all this and tries to help people out. But the one thing I always remember is that when I get a hit on a difficult pitch, he goes, 'Oh, wow. How did you do that?' That's the one thing that comes to mind."
Brian Anderson, former White Sox outfielder
"I had caught a ball and I was feeling pretty good. I think I ran it down in the gap and thought there were three outs. So I put my head down and kind of pointed at the crowd, got halfway in and looked up, and Alexei [Ramirez] was like, 'Throw me the ball,' because there weren't three outs. After the inning, Paul came up and chewed [me out]. I just wore it. I mean, he doesn't rage or raise his voice, ever. But a couple of minutes later, he came up to me in the dugout and he was like, 'You know I love you, kid. But you can't be doing that.' I just kind of laughed, because I deserved it."