Sun, Oct 30, 2005 - Page 24 News List

Chicago jubilates

WORLD SERIES CHAMPS Baseball fans in the Windy City and across the US are still wondering how the White Sox were able to win it all, and do it so quickly

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , CHICAGO

PHOTO: REUTERS

The operative word in Chicago these days is stunned. I'm speaking for myself, but I'm also speaking for fellow South Siders and fans who are stunned that the Chicago White Sox -- the Hitless Wonder White Sox of 1906, the Go-Go Sox of 1959 -- won the World Series.

Stunned.

Friday was a surreal day. I hopped on a truck that was carrying photographers along the parade route through the South Side neighborhoods that make up the White Sox's historic foundation. Every street was lined three or four rows deep with screaming fans, applauding police officers and firefighters blaring sirens. The speeches were exhortations of love.

No one saw this coming. Even Ozzie Guillen, the Sox's manager, said, "I knew we were going to make it happen, but I never believed it was going to be so fast for me to be a world champion manager in two years."

No one could have envisioned an afternoon like this or a day like Friday.

It was a perfect Midwest autumn afternoon -- crisp and cool, but not cold. A sprawling Midwestern city -- the city that works, the city of broad shoulders pouring out emotion for the team that finally brought the World Series trophy back to the South Side.

The city pulled off a celebration after only a day of planning, applying the best traits of New York, with its famed tickertape parades.

Truck horns blasted. Squad car sirens screamed. And under the Dan Ryan Expressway, car horns honked.

As the caravan made its way through the neighborhoods, class after class of schoolchildren flashed plaques and waved at the bright, red double-decker buses carrying players and their families.

The boys and girls don't yet understand the scope of what they witnessed, though they may as the decades inevitably pass without a repeat World Series performance.

I remember rushing out of my home at 78th and Calumet in September 1959 after the Sox had clinched the pennant and the air-raid alarm had sounded.

Friday represented a chance to release the pent-up emotions of 46 years without a pennant and 88 years without a World Series title.

"From the moment I left US Cellular Field to here, I had goose bumps the whole way," first baseman Paul Konerko said. "This is an amazing feeling. I can't explain to you guys how awesome this feeling is."

Konerko asked Jerry Reinsdorf, the White Sox's owner, to step up to the microphone. He handed him the ball from the last out of the World Series.

"You earned it," Konerko said.

Reinsdorf choked up, hugged Konerko, who is now a free agent, then turned away. Later, Reinsdorf told the audience that after 25 years of team ownership, the celebration made everything worthwhile.

"I never imagined it could be so good," he said. "But this is absolutely the most fantastic day of my life."

Receiving the ball, he said, was "the most emotional moment of my life."

Chicago never made a display of its long baseball drought like Boston did. Until they won the Series last season, the Red Sox had created a cottage industry of longing and suffering. The White Sox's curse is more tangible: the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs came into existence in 1876, the White Sox in 1901. The Sox have always been in the Cubs' shadow.

The White Sox are South Side. The Cubs are North Side. The division is as close to North and South Korea as you will get in sports. This is every bit as deep and bitter a relationship as the one between the Yankees and the Red Sox, with the added twist that all of the bitterness is concentrated in one city.

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