It’s easy to point to individual moments that defined the 2005 White Sox World Series run.
Paul Konerko’s grand slam in Game 2. Scott Podsednik’s walkoff home run just two innings later. Geoff Blum’s home run in the 14th inning of Game 3.
But one decade after the Sox championship run, the players reflected on personal moments ever so briefly during their reunion on Friday at U.S. Cellular Field, while diving deeper into the chemistry and close bond the group of men shared on and off the field.
“We not only played together on the field, we actually hung out as a team off the field,” 2005 World Series MVP Jermaine Dye said. “We went to dinners on road trips, we gelled with the younger guys. We made it comfortable for everybody and we believed in everybody and there was no cliques. We all pulled for each other and our pitching went out and kept us in the ballgames and we had timely hitting.”
Former manager Ozzie Guillen believes the bonding process started in spring training when there were plenty of uncertain situations about a team that finished 83-79 the year before.
“I remember in spring training people were second guessing Kenny (Williams) because we got a shortstop that doesn’t play everyday, we got a Japanese player that never played here before, we got A.J. and everybody hates him,” Guillen said.
“I don’t think anybody knew we were going to be a great team,” outfielder Podsednik added. “There were a lot of question marks. There were a lot of new faces in that clubhouse. No one really knew what to expect.”
But the South Siders gained an identity quickly. They found themselves in almost every game thanks to reliable pitching, a strong defense and timely hitting. Jon Garland was part of that rotation that gave the team a chance to win, and he admitted the guys on the staff fed off each other.
“We all wanted to go out and throw complete games,” he said. “I don't know if it was that inner competition, we definitely built off each other that year. It was just fun to be a part of that. At some point in everybody's career you want to be a part of that. To be a part of that pitching staff, it's something special.”
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The 2005 White Sox continued to check off the boxes of a winning team during the regular season, even though they weren’t all positive. The South Siders battled adversity, dropping 11 of 14 games in September sending the city of Chicago into a panic (“Even my own wife was booing me because we losing it,” Guillen said). Their hold on the AL Central shrank to just 1.5 games at one point.
“I remember after that game everybody was looking around at each other like we squandered off a lot of games it was time to get back to work here,” Podsednik said.
The next day, the Sox rattled off eight wins in their last 10 games to close out the season, carrying not only a division championship into the playoffs with them but a lot of momentum as well.
“The fact that we did it the way we did it and got in, that was the best way to propel us to winning the whole thing,” first baseman Paul Konerko said. “But again it wasn’t that fun thinking back to August and September of that year.”
The White Sox then entered their first round matchup against the Boston Red Sox and just didn’t know how to lose. The South Siders recorded 11 wins in 12 games during the postseason, sending the Windy City into hysteria over their first World Series title since 1917.
“Everybody, every day it was somebody different,” Guillen said. “It was good pitching, big plays, big hits. We're not waiting for Bobby (Jenks) or (Dustin) Hermanson or anybody to win the game. We didn't wait for Konerko to hit a home run. Like I said in the past, I don't think we had the best names but we had the best team."
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Ten years later with everyone still alive (“It surprises me that nobody is dead,” Guillen joked) the friendships between the players on that magical team remain as strong as they ever were. It’s clear that the “fun and honest” clubhouse in 2005 was full of a group of men fighting for one cause instead of 25.
“I think it was everybody,” outfielder Aaron Rowand said. “There wasn’t any one leader on this team. It was the entire squad. It was a group of guys that got along well together. It was a group of guys that really cared about each other. We came in and we dealt with each other like family on a daily basis.
“We had 25 leaders in that clubhouse and every day somebody else stepped up. Everybody always pulled on the same end of the rope, working and care about each other. It turned in to something very special.”