Like countless others, Ed Farmer’s playing days with the White Sox did not end in a world championship.
The White Sox went 88 years between World Series victories, so Farmer wasn't alone. His time playing for his hometown team lasted from 1979 to 1981 and obviously didn’t end in the same October glory the team reached in 1917 or 2005.
But Farmer was a South Sider through and through, spending nearly three decades in the broadcast booth up until his death at age 70 on Wednesday night. His status as a White Sox staple grew each night as he brought baseball into fans’ homes.
So when the White Sox finally snapped that title drought in 2005, it was particularly satisfying for Farmer as such a longtime member of the South Side baseball family.
“The thing about Farmio, Farmio was born right there in Bridgeport, right next to Old Comiskey. He got to play for the White Sox back in the rougher days. And he was just a lifelong fan,” former White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said on a Thursday conference call. “Not only did he work for the organization, but he was a true fan of the White Sox.
“And to see his face and a lot of the people who had been around for 20, 30, 40 years with the White Sox, to see the joy on their face for people who had been put through the grind and never had been close to winning.
“When we won, Farmio’d come up to you and give you a hug and say, ‘We did it.’ Even though he wasn’t out there on the field, he felt like he was a part of it because of the time and the effort he’d invested.”
The White Sox have employed many who count their tenure with the organization in decades rather than years, and Farmer was one of them. He was on the roster for Jerry Reinsdorf’s first season as chairman in 1981 and started working in the radio booth in 1992 — Frank Thomas’ third season in the big leagues. Farmer is not just one of the team’s all-time best relief pitchers, he’s also one of its most legendary voices.
But even when he wasn’t on the mound or behind a microphone, he gained an equal status as a franchise fixture in his interactions with the players.
“He was just kind of like a staple in the scenery of the White Sox,” former first baseman Paul Konerko said. “Every organization does have a lot of characters, there's no doubt. But I would put the White Sox over the years up against anybody with the characters that have come in and out of the broadcast booth and the front office. Eddie was one of those guys. He was kind of like on the Mount Rushmore of that.
“You don't know what you're going to get from him on any given day in terms of the way he would joke around or just things that would come up. A lot of times, you would think it would be the players that would cause a lot of the day-to-day stuff going on. And I don't mean that in a bad way. I'm saying a lot of it was Eddie, our broadcasters in terms of what that conversation was about. Like, 'Did you see what Eddie did today? Did you hear what happened with Eddie at the golf course?' or whatever it might have been.
“He wasn't really in our world, I think we were in his.”
While Konerko and Pierzynski became South Side legends themselves, Farmer and plenty of others were there long before they arrived and remained after they moved on. Of course, the two players are part of the small number who can say they played for a world championship-winning White Sox squad. But they’re also proud to have brought a championship home for all those who couldn’t.
“That year when we won, if you look at our coaching staff, look at the people behind the scenes, look at the broadcasters, these were people who followed the team for a long time, had been with the team for a long time, had played for the team,” Konerko said. “So there was always that distinct feeling, not just with Eddie, but with all of those guys, that we kind of won it together. But it was definitely satisfying and a sense of accomplishment as if they were playing for the team because they did play for the team.
“As a player on that team, I definitely always felt proud that we were the ones to kind of bring that feeling home to the Greg Walkers, to the Ozzie Guillens, to the Tim Raines, to all those guys that were coaches and managers and broadcasters. It was pretty cool.
“A lot of teams win the World Series and their whole staff and everything they’ve got going on has been brought in as hired guns and replacements. That wasn’t the case (with the White Sox).”
But while that sentiment applied to so many, these players and the entire White Sox organization held a special place in their hearts for Farmer. Konerko and Pierzynski described him as a clubhouse presence who gave as good as he got and became a favorite for players to joke around with.
“He could take it, he could give it out. It was fun to go back and forth with Farmio because he would always laugh,” Pierzynski said. “At the end of the day, he would get mad a little bit, but the next day he'd walk back up to you with a smile on his face and start at it again.
“He was one of the faces of the White Sox organization, and he will be missed.”