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Counting down 2014’s biggest Chicago sports stories: No. 3

The Sun-Times is counting down the 10 biggest Chicago sports stories of the 2014 calendar year one day at a time.

No. 3: Paul Konerko retires

Most of our countdown space has been devoted to new hires, acquisitions and signings.

Those stories provide excitement about the future and bring potential for celebration.

But when retiring White Sox veteran Paul Konerko was honored at U.S. Cellular Field, the moment gave fans something a little more tangible to celebrate.

Konerko was a career .279 hitter who hit 30 or more home runs seven times in his career. The longtime White Sox captain was the face of the franchise for the better part of a decade and led the South Siders to a World Series in 2005.

Konerko had a lackluster farewell season, but his career achievements are many: 439 homers, 1,412 RBIs, 2,349 games, one World Series ring, six All-Star appearances, a statue in his likeness and a retired jersey number.

His retirement was largely overshadowed by Yankee captain Derek Jeter’s farewell season, but that’s just the way the understated Konerko and White Sox fans wanted it.

Here’s some videos from Konerko’s final press conference:

And here’s the ovation he got after walking off the field for the last time:

We’re two days away from the top story of the year. Here’s our list so far:

1. Revealed Dec. 31

2. Revealed Dec. 30

3. Paul Konerko retires

4. Cubs hire Joe Maddon

5. Jay Cutler gets benched

6. Derrick Rose’s comeback, sluggish start and return to form

7. Jon Lester signs with Cubs

8. Jose Abreu takes Major League Baseball by storm, wins AL Rookie of the Year

9. Blackhawks’ playoff run reaches Western Conference Finals; Kane, Toews sign 8-year extensions

10. National Labor Relations Board says Northwestern football players are employees, orders union election