Ten years after debuting as a World Series-winning closer, Bobby Jenks returned to the mound at U.S. Cellular Field.
Back problems forced him to retire, even though he’s only 34 years old, and they were evident as he bounced his ceremonial first pitch to John Danks. But the music — “Boom” by P.O.D. — and the rousing ovation from the crowd all sounded the same as it did a decade ago.
“It’s meaningful,” Jenks said. “More than just coming back for a visit, it was a special year or everybody, it was a special team and obviously with the history of not winning in so many years, it means a lot more to the city as well. But just for us as players alone, most of us aren’t playing anymore due to injuries or retirement so it’s nice to be remembered and come back for other reasons.”
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The White Sox gave out Jenks bobbleheads to fans on Saturday and, two weeks from now, will have a proper celebration for the 2005 championship team. Jenks isn’t sure if he can make the July 18 reunion (the list of players who are scheduled to appear can be found here) but even without his teammates here, the memories flooded back of winning the city’s first World Series in 88 years.
“It just went by in such a flash,” Jenks said. “It was so amazing not just that it was your rookie year but to be part of a team that goes to a World Series and not only goes but wins. It’s incredible. That’s the only word for it.”
Jenks went on to earn two All-Star bids with the White Sox and tied the then-major league record for most consecutive batters retired (41) in 2007. He last pitched on July 7, 2011, as serious back issues cut his career short only a few months after his 30th birthday.
Jenks has no desire to return to baseball and is happy those issues are behind him and he can live a normal life.
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“I gave it a run it’s just too much pain off the mound,” Jenks said. “I can play catch again, I can play with the kids, throw the football around on the beach, do all those things that you want to do to live your life, but getting on a mound again, that ship has sailed.”
While he wasn’t able to end his career on his terms, Jenks said he doesn’t have any regrets about his seven years in the majors.
“All in all I was very fortunate, very blessed to be able to put on a major league uniform,” Jenks said. “And (to) still have the opportunity to come back and have my own bobblehead day after the fact is still pretty special.