Juan Uribe might be one of the most beloved players from the 2005 World Series champion White Sox, but when it came to knowing the names of his teammates, the all-or-nothing Uribe often struck out.
“He didn’t know anybody,” said A.J. Pierzynski, who played with Uribe in Chicago from 2005 to 2009. “One time, we played 'Name Your Teammate' with him and he could only name three guys on the team. It was (Mark) Buehrle. He called him ‘Bailey.’ He knew me. I think he knew Jermaine (Dye) and PK (Paul Konerko). He said, ‘Oh, PK, you’re El Capitan. I know you.’”
Pierzynski recalled what it was like playing with the eccentric Uribe in a conversation with fellow 2005 alumni on the “Be Chicago: Together We Can” telethon Wednesday on NBC Sports Chicago.
Not knowing the names of his teammates wasn't limited to Chicago. The same thing happened at Uribe's next stop when he signed with the San Francisco Giants in 2010.
“I got a chance to play with Uribe later on in San Francisco,” said outfielder Aaron Rowand, who told a story about the time they were driving on the team bus from the ballpark to the airport. “I grabbed the mic and I told Uribe, ‘We’re going to play a game. We’re going to see who you can name on your team.’ So he went down the aisle trying to name everybody. He got to our backup catcher Steve Holm and he said, ‘Uhhhh, No. 20.’ So it never changed. He never knew anybody on his squad.”
Uribe, who was a playoff hero with the White Sox as well as the Giants, might have played more than two years in San Francisco if he hadn’t misunderstood the negotiations when he became a free agent after the 2010 season.
The Giants wanted to bring him back, but the Dodgers — their biggest rival — were in hot pursuit.
“(Giants manager) Bruce Bochy called me,” recalled former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, who was Uribe’s close friend. “Tell (Uribe) we’re going to match every penny the Dodgers are going to give him. We want him back.”
Guillen got Uribe on the phone and delivered the message.
“Two days later, Uribe signed with the Dodgers. Bochy called me saying, ‘What the hell? What happened?’” Guillen said.
Uribe had agreed to a three-year, $21 million contract with the Dodgers, spurning the Giants, who he had just helped win a World Series.
Guillen called Uribe back and asked why he signed with the Dodgers and not the Giants.
“$21 million is not $20 million,” was Uribe’s answer.
“I said, ‘They were going to match! He didn’t understand it in Spanish,” Guillen said.
And that was the reason why the shortstop signed with the Dodgers.
“He was the best,” Pierzynski said of Uribe. “He was crazy, but he was just crazy enough to know what he was doing.”
Well, most of the time.
Listen to more stories from the 2005 White Sox reunion on this episode of the White Sox Talk Podcast.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.