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Ten Years Gone: 2005 White Sox reunite

Paul Konerko was a six-time All-Star who started in 15 Opening Days, experienced walk-off homers, riveting come from behind victories, and, you name it, enough highs on a baseball field to write a book.

Nothing, though, compares to the last out of the 2005 World Series to complete a White Sox four-game sweep of the Houston Astros.

Nothing even came close.

“That feeling of catching the third out, that’s right here,’’ Konerko said, raising his hand above his head Friday standing near home plate at U.S. Cellular Field. “All-Star Games, Opening Day, you name it, anything else is way down here. Not to say those aren’t good but the feeling inside is so far ahead of anything I’ve experienced on a baseball field. Not even close to it.’’

World Series Reunion Weekend kicked off Friday, 10 years removed from the Sox’ first title since 1917. Konerko, Ozzie Guillen, Jermaine Dye, Jon Garland, Joe Crede, Aaron Rowand, Geoff Blum, Orlando Hernandez, Frank Thomas, Scott Podsednik and Carl Everett were among the team members reminiscing on the field between games of the 2015 Sox’ split doubleheader against the Royals.

“Thank God we are all alive and still have a chance to live this, whoever is here, while we are still alive,’’ Guillen, the manager, said.

The Sox endured a 12-17 August and saw a 15-game lead dwindle to 1 ½ games on Sept. 22, only to finish strong and win 99 regular season games. Then they surged through the playoffs with a remarkable 11-1 postseason record.

“You could just feel it,’’ Konerko said. “We were a very good team and we had the pitching. But once we clinched and we knew we were going to the playoffs there was such a weight off our shoulders. I felt like you were going to see our best.’’

Paul Konerko

Paul Konerko reminisces about the 2005 White Sox.

Konerko, who hit 40 homers, drove in 100 runs and hit a grand slam in Game 2 of the World Series, said the team had its usual number of fights and disagreements but a close bond began to develop in spring training. As with most teams that win, there seemed to be a new hero every day.

“We had 25 leaders in that clubhouse and every day somebody else stepped up,’’ said Rowand, who shared ceremonial first pitch honors with Crede. “Everybody always pulled on the same end of the rope, working and caring about each other. It turned in to something very special. It’s really nice to come and see all those guys, the guys that you still think about as family. To be able to be out here and share it with them is awesome.’’

Players and coaches planned on hanging out throughout the weekend and some beyond. Some stuck around after Friday night’s game to hear a Journey cover band perform on the infield (Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ became a rallying tune for players and fans alike in 2005). Players will arrive on the field Saturday in vehicles in a  “Parade of Champions” (fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 12:30).

“We not only played together on the field, we actually hung out as a team off the field,’’ Dye said. “We went to dinners on road trips, we jelled with the younger guys. We made it comfortable for everybody and we believed in everybody and there were no cliques.’’

Konerko appreciates that there are Hall of Fame players who have never played in a World Series, yet he and his teammates had the good fortune to win one. When it was over, at the rally and parade that celebrated the title and in the weeks that followed it became apparent to him what it meant to Sox fans.

“It’s a good thing we didn’t how much was at stake for people in this area because we might have pressed,’’ Konerko said. “Since then you hear all these side stories, like, ‘my dad passed away a month later’ and all these types of things you realize that it meant a lot to people.

“It will be there forever. It’s something they can never take away from you.

“It’s mind boggling that we did it all.”

Aaron Rowand, Joe Crede

Aaron Rowand

Joe Crede (black shirt) and Aaron Rowand (gray) threw out the first pitches before Friday night’s game.