CHICAGO -- Three months after accomplishing his goal, Ozzie
Guillen realized a dream.
The manager of the World Series champion Chicago White Sox
celebrated his 42nd birthday Friday by becoming a U.S. citizen
along with his wife Ibis and their son Oney.
"It's a great feeling," Guillen said. "The funny thing about
this is when I won the World Series, a lot of people felt that was
my dream. That was my goal, to win the World Series. ... To do this
is something real special."
Ozzie Guillen was his usual self, smiling and waving as he
entered the room where he, Ibis and Oney were sworn in as citizens
after passing an exam. He was funny and serious, a study in
Guillen said he was asked during the test to name the mayor of
Chicago. That was easy.
"I said Ozzie Guillen," he said.
If he ran for office, Guillen probably wouldn't have to win over
voters -- on the South Side, anyway. Not after leading the White Sox
to the city's first World Series victory since 1917.
He called gaining U.S. citizenship "a dream come true" and
said, "A lot of people fight and die to be American citizens. A
lot of Latin people are dying to be where I am right now."
He also acknowledged there were practical reasons for doing
Guillen started thinking about becoming a citizen in the past
decade and became more serious about it in recent years, when the
two oldest of this three children entered college. He also said
acquiring a visa from his native Venezuela every year was a hassle.
A three-time All-Star shortstop who spent most of his 16-year
playing career with the White Sox, Ozzie Guillen was born in
Ocumare del Tuy, Venezuela. Ibis and Oney, who turns 20 next week,
are natives of the South American country, as is 14-year-old son
Oldest son Ozzie Jr., 22, was born in Las Vegas.
"We're going to do those papers soon," Ozzie Guillen said of
his youngest son.
Guillen said gaining U.S. citizenship "makes it easier for
Guillen said he doesn't anticipate much backlash from his native
country, where he received a hero's welcome after winning the World
"I did this for a reason -- a good reason," Guillen said.
"It's nobody's business why I did it."
He expects most Venezuelans to "see me the same way," although
he half-jokingly acknowledged there might be one notable exception:
President Hugo Chavez.
"He'll probably be mad at me," Guillen said. "I don't blame
him, but it's a decision I've got to make for my family. It's a
decision I've got to make for my own good. ... I couldn't care less
what people think, and I'm going to do what's best for my family."
He said the United States is "not an easy country," but
provides the best opportunity "to be what you want to be."
"Do you know how many people die every week just to live in
this country? Hundreds," Guillen said. "That's a dream. A lot of
people want to be Americans. It's not an easy thing to do."
Guillen acknowledged he was nervous while taking the test. He
joked that "50 percent of the people don't know" the answers to
the questions on the exam and vowed to test his players during
spring training. Oney Guillen, a student at North Park University
in Chicago, said he and his parents studied for several hours
Thursday and crammed before heading out Friday morning.
"They were harassing him about not knowing anything about the
States, and now he knows a lot," said Oney Guillen, a student at
North Park University in Chicago.