CHICAGO -- One word pretty much encapsulated Mark Buehrle's feelings during the retirement ceremony of his jersey No. 56 at Guaranteed Rate Field Saturday afternoon, making him the 11th White Sox player to receive such an honor."Wow," was the first word said by Buehrle after three standing ovations, speeches from
CHICAGO -- One word pretty much encapsulated Mark Buehrle's feelings during the retirement ceremony of his jersey No. 56 at Guaranteed Rate Field Saturday afternoon, making him the 11th White Sox player to receive such an honor.
"Wow," was the first word said by Buehrle after three standing ovations, speeches from emcee Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, pitching coach Don Cooper, Hall of Famer and former teammate Frank Thomas and White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. "This is amazing.
"People texted me before we got here saying how crowded it was. Me trying to get here two hours before. It's usually not that busy. Amazing feeling," added Buehrle during his media session in the third inning of Saturday's contest with the A's. "Can't really put it into words how you feel. I wasn't actually as nervous as I thought I would be once I was up there. But obviously glad it's over with, and it's a special day."
Buehrle joined Nellie Fox (2), Harold Baines (3), Luke Appling (4), Minnie Minoso (9), Luis Aparicio (11), Paul Konerko (14), Ted Lyons (16), Billy Pierce (19), Thomas (35) and Carlton Fisk (72) in a ceremony lasting just over 30 minutes. Jackie Robinson's No. 42 was retired throughout baseball in 1997.
Modeling a fashion similar to his quick mound work, Buehrle took the podium at about 12:55 p.m. CT, and his speech lasted a little under a tidy five minutes. Buehrle played 12 seasons with the White Sox, compiling a record of 161-119, a 3.83 ERA and was a 16-game winner for the 2005 team that won the franchise's first World Series since 1917. He started Game 2 of that World Series and saved Game 3.
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The White Sox commissioned a piece of 56 artwork, created by one-time slugger Ron Kittle. They also presented Buehrle a four-wheeler for fishing and hunting, a truck with 27 Up, 27 Down on the back in honor of his perfect game thrown on July 23, 2009, against the Rays and a return of the baseball used by Buehrle on his miraculous between-the-legs flip on a play at first base against the Indians on Opening Day 2010.
"As I look around this stadium it's amazing how much these people love you and how many people came out to see you on this great day," said Reinsdorf, who had high praise for Buehrle, aside from joking his quick mound work killed the concessions. "In case you weren't aware of it, we don't draw 40,000 every day."
In Buehrle's speech, he thanked his wife, Jamie, his children, Braden and Brooklyn, and his parents, John and Pat. He thanked all his friends and family members in attendance, former teammates who were there and the organization from Reinsdorf to coaches to everyone else in the ballpark who helped him and his family. He also praised the fans, who responded with rousing cheers as they have pretty much every step of Buehrle's career.
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Nine-year-old Braden completed the ceremony with an inspiring rendition of the national anthem. Eight-year-old Brooklyn threw out the first pitch to her dad, with the scoreboard flashing the message: "Brooklyn Buehrle 85 mph, Mark Buehrle 77 mph in his prime." Buehrle pointed out his sweetheart of a daughter didn't want to throw out the first pitch until a few days ago because she was afraid of throwing harder than her dad.
There were emotional moments for the usually even-keel Buehrle. Nothing topped seeing the actual unveiling between Thomas and Fisk.
"Emotions and trying to breathe deep and don't start crying, tearing up," Buehrle said. "I was trying to hold my emotions together. But just looking up there and seeing that. I can't put it into words.
"Again, it doesn't make sense. It's going to take time. I don't know if it's ever going to sink in and realize there it is."
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.