CHICAGO -- In honor of the 30 minutes the members of the 2005 team spent remembering their championship season Friday, the following is a compact oral history of the season.
In town for a reunion weekend 10 years after the fact, approximately 15 players from the 2005 club were on the field between games of Friday’s doubleheader against the Kansas City Royals talking about how a retooled roster ended up unifying so quickly and winning the championship.
THE WINTER OF 2004-2005
Ozzie Guillen, who was known to have his issues with general manager Kenny Williams, had no problem giving credit to the front office for a sometimes curious yet impressive roster rebuild: “Kenny should be Executive of the Year because Kenny made more of a difference than we did. Kenny went out and traded some players like, ‘What we doing?’ I think nobody gives him any credit. They give it to the guy in Cleveland. I don’t know why.”
Jermaine Dye, fresh from a four-year stint with the Oakland Athletics, liked what he saw early: “You know what, I saw it kind of in spring training a little bit just looking around and looking at our lineup on paper. You had a few guys with great careers already and I just felt like our pitching was the key. The lineup, we had unselfish guys.”
As far as Paul Konerko was concerned, championship potential showed up even before the first pitch of the regular season was thrown: “I think you can see it by the end of spring because people were talking third place, or we wouldn’t even be fighting for first. I think we knew we would be competing for the division. But I’m not going to lie and sit here and say I thought we were great or anything.”
To starter Jon Garland, the season was one big competition between the starting rotation: “We all wanted to go out and throw complete games. 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.”
Reliever Cliff Politte said the team’s hot start took him by surprise, and it took a glance at the scoreboard in June to put it into perspective: “There was a time when we were shagging batting practice. It was (Mark) Buehrle, Garland, myself and maybe one other person in the outfield and we looked at the scoreboard and they were running the standings. We had a 10-game lead. We looked at each other and said, ‘Ten-game lead? We’re pretty good.’ It kind of hit us then that we had a good club.”
Geoff Blum said he recognized the White Sox had a chance at greatness when he checked the standings the day in July when he was traded from the San Diego Padres: “Yeah, it was the record. I came over and they were 15 games up. My job was to give to the situation and just kind of blend in and be a fly on the wall so to speak, and these guys took me in and I just rode their coattails until the end of the season.”
Guillen wasn’t sure the White Sox would ever clinch the division, but when the team did, he could sense what was ahead: “When we clinched in Detroit, I told myself, ‘This ball club has got a chance to win,’ because we got the pitching staff ready for it, we got the heavy (lifting) done. It’s all loaded. Now we start over. We already passed a really tough time. We played through it. I think we were ready mentally, prepared better for the playoffs than we were before the season.”
When the White Sox had trouble wrapping up the division title, Aaron Rowand said the pressure was palpable: “We went through a stretch when fans and everyone was booing me. Even my own wife was booing me because we were losing it. That's part of the game. Cleveland had a great team. Those guys were the same people when they were winning as when they were losing. That's what makes them so special.”
The single most impressive moment of the ALDS against the Boston Red Sox was probably Orlando Hernandez getting out of a bases-loaded jam with no outs in the sixth inning of Game 3. His take: “I remember it like it was yesterday. Everything was good and everything was big. I feel happy. Sometimes I do remember back on that inning and I look at that situation. That’s how things go.”
Garland remains in awe of the White Sox delivering four consecutive complete games in the ALCS: “It is hard to believe. Every time I watch the playoffs, it's hard to believe. Playing in the playoffs and then sitting watching it on TV at home when you're done, you do realize the pressure that is put on you and you realize how much the games mean.”
Willie Harris had just one at-bat in Game 4 of the World Series, but he ended up with a single in the ninth inning and scored the winning run on a Dye single in the White Sox’s clinching 1-0 victory. Harris watched the game with his son recently: “We watched the entire game on YouTube. Back then, I didn’t really understand the significance of how big of a hit that was. For Jermaine to drive me and Scotty (Podsednik) to bump me over. I can take you through the entire thing.”
The final out of the World Series came when Konerko caught Juan Uribe’s throw at first base: “That feeling of catching the third out is right up here. All-Star Games, you name it, anything else is way down here. I’m not saying those aren’t good, but the feeling of winning a World Series is far ahead of anything I have experienced on a baseball field.”
Aaron Rowand put a nice bow on the accomplishments of the 2005 season: “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 caring about each other. It turned into something very special. It’s really nice to come and see all those guys, the guys that you still think about as family. To be able to be out here and share it with them is awesome.”