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This year marked the first time I had been involved with a championship team. As a player, my timing was always a few years off. I went to Cleveland in 1949 and was traded to the White Sox in April 1951; three years later the Indians won the pennant. I was then traded back to the Indians before the start of the '58 season. The next year the White Sox celebrated a pennant without me. Then in '62 I went to St. Louis thinking I'd have a real shot at winning a championship. But I stayed only one season. In 1964 the Cardinals went on to win the World Series over the Yankees!
To be able to finally win a ring in my 80s (I never tell my exact age and have been told I look more like 28) has truly been something special. This year's players have been great about making me feel like one of the guys. Physically, I can't do it anymore, but mentally, I was there with them every day, living and dying with every pitch.
Some days I was with them even in uniform. Well, almost. Before the second game of the American League Championship Series, I surprised the guys by showing up at the clubhouse in a MINOSO jersey, shorts and a White Sox jacket. They all got a kick out of it. When we came back in the ninth to beat the Angels in that game--thanks to a heads-up play by catcher A.J. Pierzynski and a little help from the umpires--a few of the guys started thinking that maybe my outfit was bringing us good luck. "Don't change your clothes," they told me.
So I didn't. When we went to California, I wore the same T-shirt, shorts, socks, shoes and jacket for three days straight. We didn't drop a game the entire time.
After we clinched a trip to the World Series, the players treated me to a champagne shower back in the clubhouse. I boarded the charter back to Chicago sopping wet. It took the entire 3�-hour flight to dry out. As soon as I stepped off the plane, one of the players asked me, "Hey, Minnie, are you gonna change?" How could I? I wanted a ring!
It's easy to make friends with a group like this. I like everything they do. They're just a bunch of good guys who believe in one another, who are ready for whatever the opposition throws at them. We don't have one person who thinks he's the star. When you have that kind of chemistry, good things are generally going to happen for you. That's what makes a great team. Kenny Williams should get Executive of the Year. (If he needs a vote, he's got four from me.)
But at the end of the day, the team is an extension of the manager, and Ozzie Guillen should be commended for a job well done. He has my respect. Over time we've become pretty good friends. He's had to weather his share of criticism over the years, but who could find fault with the year he had in 2005? He started with [low expectations] and ended up winning more games than anyone in the league!
Guillen has also been great about making me feel like I'm part of the family. I can't tell you how grateful I am to the White Sox organization for having invited me along for the ride. The experience is not one I'll soon forget.