October 28, 2005

Chicago hails baseball champion White Sox

By Andrew Stern

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of delirious Chicago
White Sox fans celebrated the team's first World Series victory
in 88 years on Friday amid pledges to win another championship
next year.

Confetti shot from cannons and clumps of office paper
cascaded down through the sunlit autumn air onto the players
waving from open-air buses rolling along LaSalle Street.

The crowd jammed streets along the downtown portion of the
route through Chicago's famous Loop. The players' motorcade
first wound through a series of South Side neighborhoods
between their home park, U.S. Cellular Field, and the Loop.

Addressing the throng, die-hard White Sox fan Richard
Daley, the city's mayor, beamed as he thanked the team, its
owner and manager, adding, "We look forward to another world
championship next year."

White Sox general manager Kenny Williams, who was credited
with putting together a team not of high-salaried stars but of
players grounded in the game's fundamentals, nodded to Daley:
"Mr. Mayor, you throw one helluva a party."

"I didn't know there were this many of you out there. We
are humbled, overwhelmed, grateful," Williams told the crowd.
"We played the last game of the season and we won it."

One fan waved a sign reading "Nothing's better than a night
of great Sox."

The White Sox steamrollered through the regular season and
then compiled an 11-1 post-season record, sweeping the Houston
Astros in four straight games and clinching the team's first
championship since 1917 on Wednesday with a 1-0 victory.


"We knew it would be a big deal but we didn't think it
would be like this," said Paul Konerko, a fan favorite and the
team's slugging first baseman.

"All year we had to listen, not here of course, to people
saying we couldn't do this ... the only thing I could come up
with is maybe we'll have to do this one more time next year,"
he said.

Ozzie Guillen, the team's effusive, multilingual manager,
stood with his shoulders draped in the flag of his native
Venezuela as he hoisted the World Series trophy.

"It was really easy to manage this team ... every day,
every day you guys, they showed up to play," he said.

Then, to offset a seemingly off-hand remark earlier in the
month that he would retire if the White Sox won the
championship, the 41-year-old Guillen said, "I will be back
next year."

White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf said he bought the team
with his partners 25 years ago but "we never dreamed it would
take 25 year to win the World Series.

"I never imagined it could be so good. This is absolutely
the most fantastic day of my life," he said, tears welling up,
as he clutched the ball handed him by Konerko that made the
last out of the 2005 World Series.

(Additional reporting by Michael Conlon and Karl Plume)