paul konerko greets fans after the final game of his career (september 28, 2014)
Paul Konerko’s Farewell Speech
Thank you, guys. This is way more than you ever dream could happen when you pick up a bat. You’re 6 years old, and you find yourself here, 32 years later, with all this going on; it’s not something that you think is going to happen. I’m guessing it’s too late to ask for a day off, Robin, because I don’t know if I’m going to be able to get out there tonight. I’ll do my best. I’ll get out there.
Before we go into what I’ve got, I just want to say congratulations to these guys over here. They should be very proud. They ended a long streak to get into the playoffs. This whole thing is keeping them from getting this game going, and I appreciate them being out here, No. 1, and having to change up their schedule. Good luck to you guys. Represent the Central. You guys remind me of a team I played for once. You guys can go do it. Represent. Thank you.
Let me start off thanking a few people here. My family — we have a bunch of them all over the place in the stadium. My mom and dad. There you go. My wife, three kids: Nick, Owen, Emilia. My brother, Pete. Tom and Holly Wells, my wife’s parents. And all their kids. You want to talk about real heroes. Right there.
All these guys that came in back here that I used to play with and were kind enough to take time out of their day to join us here tonight. There were more who couldn’t get here because of what happened, which is a shame. Believe me, they’re here in spirit. But all the guys back here, there’s a story. I could stay here all night, and they know I could, telling stories about these guys. Cliff, you know. I really appreciate that. That’s what it’s all about right there: People coming in after you play with them for years, and they want to come out to help you out and represent for you here.
The whole Chicago White Sox front office, I mean, just everybody involved from the PR. It’s just been a crazy year with all that. But the whole time I’ve been here, they have gone above and beyond. Brooks Boyer — with this whole year, with what’s going on tonight — he’s gone above and beyond what I ever thought I was getting. I didn’t expect anything, but the way this went down, this will be something that, obviously, I remember forever. I’m still trying to digest it all. I don’t understand some of it sometimes, but it’s all great.
Kenny and Rick, you guys were great, you guys were fair to me. I tried to show up and play as hard as I could for you. Sometimes it was good. Sometimes it wasn’t. But the intent was there, and I did my best for you.
Jerry Reinsdorf, I could go on forever with this one here. But the best thing I can say about him is he’s old-school, and it’s still nice to know there are people out there in the world that you don’t need a contract with, you just need a handshake. That man right there is a loyal man, and I am forever indebted to him.
My teammates here. Let’s start with the coaching staff. Robin, where are you? There you are. If you are a retiring player, and you are going through your last season, you could not pick a better manager to have than Robin Ventura. First of all, this man had a great career, and he knew at every turn this year what I was feeling, what I was going through, and he took that into account. I’m telling you, it made it a lot easier to me, and I will always appreciate it. I will always owe him one for the way he dealt with me, not only this season but in the offseason leading into this year and in past years, but specifically how he handled me this year. Robin, man, I owe you some good wine for how you treated me this year, man. I love you.
The coaches, starting with Mark Parent and going on down the line, these guys were behind me every night. This role I was in this year was all new to me, so they’re probably happy they only have two more days of me asking questions, like in the third inning, “Am I going to pinch hit tonight in the eighth?” And then having to figure out all the scenarios and wear them out every night. So I appreciate them putting up with me for the year.
Herm and Brian Ball, where are you at? Stand up. I want these two guys to stand up right here. I’m taking down as many as I can with me tonight. I’m going to embarrass a lot of people. These two guys right here, I don’t know how many times they put me back together to get out here to play. It’s really unbelievable their dedication. These guys are the first ones here and the last ones to leave. There are so many nights, hundreds of nights, you couldn’t make it out on the field, and these guys get you right, get you ready to go. I owe so much to these two guys, so thank you, guys.
All my teammates here. Obviously, all my former teammates, but these guys in particular; I caught a great team to catch my last year with. I had a lot of fun with them, just very receptive to want to learn the game. These guys are hungry. Going back to these guys over here, hopefully they’re coming after them next year and getting things in line. It’s about that time again.
All right, lastly, you guys. I’m not even going to say fans — I’m going to say friends. All my friends in this building right now. You know, for some reason, when I got here early in my career, I don’t know what it was, I really hadn’t done anything, but you guys treated me like I had been here and there was some kind of a connection I felt. I could have gone on. I was with two other teams before I got here. I could have had a good career with anybody, but there was no way that … the relationship between myself and you guys, it just fit right. I tried to earn that as best as I could for you guys. Like I said, I could have had a good career anywhere, but it never would have happened in this city and this stadium without all of you guys.
It just fit, and it worked, and I tried to run with it as long as I could, and I really appreciate all the support. Just know that when that statue is out there, it’s easy to cheer somebody on when a guy hits a home run or drives in a run or does something good. But I don’t think of that. I think of all the bad streaks, the bad months, the bad halves, some bad years. The double plays I hit into when you guys were wondering, “How the hell is this guy that slow?” All that stuff — there are millions of things I could come across — that’s when you guys lifted me up and kept pushing me through to get to where I am today. So when you look at that statue out there, or you look at that number that’s going to go right there, just realize when you look at that when I’m not there and you’re at these games, your fingerprints are all over it. It wouldn’t be there without you guys, so thank you.
Alright, let’s play some baseball here. Let’s do this. Come on.
goodbye paul konerko || lifetime: 2347 GP, 1162 R, 2340 H, 439 HR, 410 2B, 1412 RBI, .279 AVG, .354 OBP, .487 SLGone konerko, generations of dreamers.
Dear Chicago, thanks for allowing me to make so many memories here. I promise you they will always be with me. PK.
August 12, 2014
San Francisco, California
Photos by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America