Rowand: Chicago is best sports town

Aaron Rowand returns to Chicago this weekend to help celebrate SoxFest. The former fan favorite makes no bones about his feelings for the city to which he helped bring a baseball world championship in 2005.

“I’ve been all over the country and played in some great cities, but no town has the passion for their sports teams like Chicago,” the former outfielder said. “The Sox fans are terrific and really into the game, and no team has fans like the Bears.”

Rowand comes back to town with fellow championship teammates Jermaine Dye, Joe Crede, Frank Thomas and current Chicago White Sox star first baseman Paul Konerko.

“We had a special group that caught lightning in a bottle that season,” Rowand said from his home in Las Vegas. “Whenever we needed a run, we would manufacture one. If we needed a great pitching performance, we got it. Heck, we had three closers, and all of them did a great job. The last guy no one had ever heard of, Bobby Jenks, came out of nowhere throwing 100 mph with a stupid breaking ball nobody could hit to ice down a championship for us.”

Rowand was traded to the Phillies for Jim Thome after the 2005 season and eventually played on the 2010 World Series champion San Francisco Giants. The White Sox won 90 games in 2006 but failed to make the playoffs.

“You can’t really define the reason why teams with great players don’t usually win every year,” Rowand said. “That 2005 team had the closeness that you need to go along with the talent on the field. We had every type of guy with all different backgrounds hanging out, having dinner together and just enjoying one another.

“Other than my kids being born, I can say that season was the best time and the most fun I have ever had,” he said.

Of the 2005 World Series champion roster, only Konerko is still with the White Sox.

“Paulie is the most unselfish player I ever saw or played with,” Rowand said. “He would give himself up to move a runner and help us set up a run. His way of playing team-first baseball was picked up by everyone else on the club. He never worried about his numbers, just team wins.

“We as a group will always be brothers and have that special bond,” he said. “I guess that is why they keep asking us back to SoxFest.”