Monday will mark the 10th anniversary of the White Sox winning the World Series and Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf said that celebration was bigger than any other sports celebration in Chicago sports history, including the Bears’ Super Bowl title in 1986.
Reinsdorf, the boss of the Sox and the six-time NBA champion Bulls, brought seven top trophies to town and he is not bashful about stating the importance of the White Sox sweep of Houston, which concluded on Oct. 26, 2005.
“The impact on the community of winning a World Series was far greater than winning a basketball championship,” he said. “It was far greater than winning a Super Bowl. Baseball is the one sport that spans generations. Everybody remembers their first baseball game he or she went to and who they went with and who was playing. You ask people about basketball or football, they don’t really remember their first game. Everybody remembers their first baseball game.
“And if the Cubs win a World Series, it will be even a bigger effect on the community because there are apparently more Cub fans. But our fans are better baseball fans.’’
Reinsdorf sat down with this newspaper at a lunch at Schaller’s Pump in Chicago brokered by Oak Lawn legend Ed McElroy. I am on the wrong side of 50 and was the pacifier sucker at a table featuring Reinsdorf (age 79), McElroy (90) and restaurant owner Jack Schaller (91). That’s 260 years between this trio.
I covered the playoffs and World Series in 2005 and have my own stories about getting drenched by champagne in the winning locker room in Houston, a sportswriters’ postgame meal at 4 a.m. at a Denny’s after the 14-inning Game 3 and other amusing tales.
But when McElroy offered a sitdown with Reinsdorf, I figured he would have better stories to tell and he didn’t fail to deliver.
After the clincher, Reinsdorf said he finally got to bed at the team hotel at 4 a.m.
At about 6:30 a.m. the phone rang.
“Some woman said ‘hold for the President of the United States,’ ” Reinsdorf said. “[George W. Bush] got on the phone and apologized for waking me up so early but he said he and Laura were going someplace. He told me what a remarkable achievement it was to win a world championship in two sports.’’
A couple of days later, Reindsdorf and some of the players were supposed to appear on the “Oprah Winfrey Show.’’
The players made it.
But not the Chairman.
“I overslept,” Reinsdorf said. “I didn’t wake up until noon.”
As soon as the final out was made and I witnessed the clinching of the first Chicago World Series championship in my lifetime and in 88 years, I turned to whoever would listen and said “Well, the coyote finally caught the Road Runner.’’
Reinsdorf said that immediately after the game, things were hectic with the trophy presentations and celebration. It took a little while to sink in.
“Obviously I was excited and happy,” he said. “But it didn’t hit me and I didn’t realize the enormity of it until the parade. There were two million people on that parade route. And there wasn’t one arrest.
“The other thing was that you could have gone to any cemetery the next day and the graves were decorated with White Sox stuff – including Mayor (Richard J.) Daley’s. That’s when it hit me. It was surreal. It was hard to believe.’’
Like him or hate him, Reinsdorf brought championships to a city that had been starving for the sports title for years.
He has no plans on stepping down anytime soon.
“I want to do this until I reach his age,” Reinsdof said, pointing to the 90-year-old McElroy. “The business of the Bulls is pretty much run by my son, Michael. I have that off my plate. I’m still active day-to-day with the White Sox. But I don’t see any reason to stop unless I die or get feeble. I have a lot of time before I retire.’’
This year’s Cubs team is having a magic year so far and despite biting a rotten apple in New York this weekend, has a chance to win a World Series of its own in the near or distant future and if that happens, it will push the Sox’s accomplishment further in the backs of the minds of a lot of Chicago sports fans.
“Look, if the Cubs win the World Series, it would be a great thing for the city of Chicago,” Reinsdorf said. “But most White Sox fans don’t look at it that way and my allegiance is to the White Sox fans.’’