baseball stars have been targeted by criminals for years, but Urbina has
attracted violence the way a magnet draws iron. His father was killed resisting
robbers in 1994. His mother was kidnapped in September 2004. Before she was
rescued unharmed, Urbina, refusing to negotiate with the abductors, weathered
five months of worry with a chilling hardness.
"I wish I
could be like him, sometimes," Guillen says.
For the last 15
years Guillen has been a babalao, a kind of priest, in Santer�a, the
Caribbean-based religion that blends spiritual traditions of West Africa with
those of Roman Catholicism. The practice of Santer�a involves devotion to any
one of a number of saints; altar offerings of small items such as candy,
candles and fruit; and, in rare instances, animal sacrifice. Guillen
occasionally worships informally with other santeros but mostly observes his
faith alone or with his family. In Santer�a he feels a daily connection to God
that he never felt in the Catholic church, and he says the faith helped him
understand that Polidor's death was his friend's destiny.
Some believers in
Santer�a see significance in numbers. Like most White Sox fans, Ibis Guillen
felt that first baseman Paul Konerko could bail them out of any jam in the ALCS
against the Angels, but in Ibis's case it was because Konerko wore Polidor's
number 14. After Chicago's 8-2 win in Game 4, Ibis saw the Angels' line
score--two runs, six hits, one error, four left on base--she nudged her sister
and said, "Look at that." Gus was born on Oct. 26 and wore number 14.
Two, six, one, four: an omen.
But on that same
night, Oct. 15, the murky events at Urbina's ranch began to unfold. At first
Guillen didn't care if Urbina was guilty or innocent. He considered buying
Urbina's way out of prison. Still, something happened on that ranch that night;
men were slashed and burned. "If he's guilty, he's guilty," Guillen now
says of his friend. "If you did it, then you deserve to be where you
In the World
Series, Guillen's most celebrated move came in the 14th inning of Game 3, when
his choice of a pinch hitter, little-used Geoff Blum, snapped a 5-5 tie with a
game-winning homer in his first World Series at bat. But Guillen didn't base
his masterstroke on some obscure statistic. He didn't even talk with his
coaches. The manager had already written the name of another batter, infielder
Pablo Ozuna, on the lineup card taped to the dugout wall when he noticed his
son Oney standing nearby. Ozzie asked Oney, a junior at Chicago's North Park
University who was watching the game from the dugout, what he thought.
" Blum's ready," Oney said.
" Blum hasn't
had a hit in two weeks," Ozzie said.
" Blum's going
to win you the game."
Guillen had never
before consulted one of his sons on a managerial decision. It didn't strike him
then that Polidor was Oney's godfather, but something about using Blum felt
right. When Ozzie sent Blum to home plate, the game of their lives on the line,
Oney thought, I can't believe this.
On the morning of
Game 4 Ozzie was eating breakfast in his Houston hotel room, still buzzing from
the epic win just hours before. He spoke of how nervous he felt because
Houston's bats were waking up. Ibis cut in. "Don't worry," she said.
"It's over. We win tonight. It's Gus's birthday."