Successors in spirit to Ring Lardner, Carl Sandburg and Studs Terkel, a baseball team on 35th Street on the South Side of Chicago authored a civics history lesson that will outlive this generation. The sons and daughters of Chicago, the newest of whom began life swaddled in White Sox blankets at local hospitals, have lived to see a World Series in their town, something no one born since 1959 had known. Not only that, but with a second breathtaking win they'll be talking about for ages, the White Sox were halfway home to giving everyone under the age of 88 their first look at a world championship in Chicago.
"The republic is a dream," Sandburg once wrote in what could pass for the credo of a Sox fan. "Nothing happens unless first a dream."
Nicholas Konerko did not need to wait long for the dream of a World Series in Chicago to come true. Four days, to be exact. Born Oct. 18 in Scottsdale, Ariz., 10 days ahead of his due date, as if to be sure not to miss out on history, Nicholas is the firstborn of Paul and Jennifer Konerko. And since he was born, the White Sox have won more World Series games in Chicago than in all the years since Joe Jackson and the Black Sox threw the 1919 Series.
"He told me," the first baseman said with a wink about Nicholas, "that I better not come home without the trophy."
Konerko is one of the many proud Chicago fathers who finally have World Series stories to tell, though his is uniquely personal. Konerko can tell Nicholas about the grand slam he hit in Game 2, the first one in World Series history from the seventh inning or later that turned a deficit into a lead.
"How lucky am I," Konerko said after that game, "that I hit a grand slam in the World Series and it's still the second-best thing to happen to me this week."
Houston recovered from the slam with two runs in the ninth to tie the game at six--it was the first time in 32 days anybody scored more than four runs off Sox pitchers--though the rally served only to set up another addition to this new oral history in Chicago. White Sox fans will remember where they were when Scott Podsednik ended the game with a bottom-of-the-ninth home run off closer Brad Lidge, becoming the first player ever to hit a walk-off World Series homer after hitting no home runs in the regular season.
"I don't think anybody in the ballpark was thinking about me hitting the ball out," Podsednik said. "Two-and-one I was thinking that he was probably going to challenge me with a fastball. Luckily I got into a hitter's count. I was looking fastball the entire at bat and got one."
The victory and how it was achieved continued what seemed like Groundhog Month for the Sox. They put together a 14-1 run on a foundation of strong starting pitching (Game 2 starter Mark Buehrle, like Contreras in Game 1, threw seven strong innings without a walk), timely hitting and occasional help from the umpires.
With Houston holding a 4-2 lead in the seventh with two on and two out, Dye admittedly fouled off a 3-and-2 pitch from Dan Wheeler. But home plate umpire Jeff Nelson ruled the pitch hit Dye and awarded him first base. Nelson refused the request of catcher Brad Ausmus to ask other umpires for assistance with the call.