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Senator Barack Obama Congratulates the Chicago White Sox

Illinois Senate floor statement - October 27, 2005

"I rise today as a U.S. Senator, as an Illinoisan, and as a proud resident of the Southside of Chicago, to congratulate the Chicago White Sox for winning the 2005 World Series. As my fellow Southsiders know, it has been a long time coming.

Founded in 1900 as the Chicago White Stockings, this year's team reached the World Series for the first time since 1959. Over a century of White Sox fans have cheered for superstars such as Luke Appling, Nellie Fox, Carlton Fisk, Luis Aparicio, Harold Baines, and of course Big Frank Thomas. But we haven't savored the sweet taste of a World Series championship since 1917 - until now.

Back then, Woodrow Wilson was President, and the Great War was raging in Europe. The White Sox were a bright spot in tough times.

The Sox won last night the way they have won all season--by playing aggressively, scrapping for every base and every run. When Juan Uribe threw to Paul Konerko for the final out, it was fitting that the ball beat the runner by only half a step. The four games against the Astros were decided by a total of six runs. Win by the skin of your teeth. Win or die trying, that's our motto this year.

Jermaine Dye is the World Series MVP, and I congratulate him for that, but I'm sure he'll be the first to say that everyone on this year's team deserves a part of that award. This is a team with so many great players, but no undisputed leader on the field. I don't claim to be a baseball expert - or particularly unbiased on this matter - but this is one of the most selfless, balanced teams I've ever seen. A team of unlikely heroes.

Scott Podsednik, who hadn't hit a home run all season, stepped up and hit two in the playoffs, including the walk-off winner in Game 2 on Sunday. Willie Harris, who barely played in the playoffs, got a pinch hit to get on base and bring home the only run last night. Geoff Blum, a former Astro, who got a pinch hit homer in the 14th inning to give us the margin of victory in Game 3. And the pitching--four complete games to close out the American League Championship Series. An 11 and 1 record in the playoffs. 15 scoreless innings to finish the World Series.

Before the season started, the Sox were a consensus .500 team. Even as we built and maintained the best record in the American League all season, there were many doubters. Towards the end of the season, we hit a rough patch, and the doubters got louder. They said Cleveland had more playoff experience. They said even if we held on to make the playoffs, we would get embarrassed in the first round. But during the stretch run, manager Ozzie Guillen and his "kids," as he calls them, were calm and relaxed. Even as Cleveland came on strong and our lead in the Central Division dwindled, Ozzie's kids continued to play pranks on each other in the clubhouse, and continued to run hard on the basepaths.

Once the playoffs started, there was no looking back. That difficult September was gone in an instant. We silenced the doubters by sweeping the World Champion Boston Red Sox. We silenced the Angels during the ALCS in five games. And we swept the Astros in four games.

I had the privilege of attending game one of the World Series on Saturday, and the fans in and around the park were a cross-section of the city. There were plenty of folks old enough to remember the '59 team. Almost everyone remembered the 2000 team that made the playoffs. A few were even alive in 1917. A staffer of mine, a Southside Irishman and a Sox fan all his life, mentioned a 92-year-old woman at Saturday's game. She was jumping and cheering so much with every hit and every run that my staffer worried for her health!

I would like to congratulate the entire White Sox organization, in particular Jerry Reinsdorf, Kenny Williams, and Ozzie Guillen. We will be celebrating this victory for a long time on the Southside, around the city of Chicago, and around the entire state of Illinois.

Later today, Senator Durbin and I will be introducing a resolution honoring the White Sox, and we will be asking for its immediate consideration and adoption. Thank you, and I yield the floor."