CHICAGO -- Jerry Reinsdorf has said one of the biggest highlights of his 33-year career as owner of the White Sox came when Paul Konerko handed him the baseball from the final out of the 2005 World Series-clinching Game 4.
It was one of the true moments of surprise for the 77-year-old Reinsdorf, coming on the parade dais where the city of Chicago celebrated this moment in history following a 99-win season and a four-game sweep of the Astros completing an 11-1 postseason run.
"It was just a no-brainer for me -- that's where it would go," Konerko said of presenting the ball to the White Sox chairman, who was honored Wednesday night with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2013 Sports Business Awards in New York. "It was planned that I was going to give him the ball, but it wasn't planned. I just really had not seen him since the last out of the World Series, and I was not going to see him again.
"I was leaving that day. I thought this would be a cool idea. There wasn't much choice. I suppose I could have given it to him earlier in the day and just said, 'Here you go.' It wasn't something I concocted weeks in advance. But I could tell it really hit home with him."
The franchise's first World Series title in 88 years came in Konerko's seventh season on the South Side. For Reinsdorf, who has run the team since January 1981, the wait had been a little bit longer.
"He had been chasing them for a long time," Konerko said of Reinsdorf's World Series championship, to go with his six NBA crowns with the Bulls. "You could just see the fan come out in him, more so than the owner of the team that won the World Series. That was pretty cool."
"It was a blessing and fun and for me and all of us who have been around a long time, it was great," said White Sox senior executive vice president Howard Pizer, who has worked with Reinsdorf for more than 41 years. "But his love is baseball, and you've arrived at that point. You've really done it. He deserves it for always being so thoughtful and generous and very kindhearted, but he's still able to understand that there are hard business decisions that have to be made, and he makes them."
Reinsdorf displayed his largesse in the distribution of World Series rings throughout the organization. As Pizer explains, there are usually two or three different grades of rings for most winning teams.
Not for the White Sox.
"That the person who comes in all year and works every day in the kitchen, slicing vegetables, that that person gets the same ring as the players and the manager and everybody? Many people would think that's crazy," Pizer said. "Jerry's response is, 'It's the only thing that makes sense. It's for all of us. You don't do it individually. You do it as a team and as an organization.' He has a strong sense of what's right and wrong."
"One of my frustrations was always that the public perception of Jerry didn't match the guy we knew," White Sox senior vice president of communications Scott Reifert said. "And I think winning in '05 allowed people to see him the way we see him."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin.