World Series long time coming for alums
White Sox players past, present celebrate ALCS victory
ANAHEIM -- They've come a long way, baby, from those black shorts and demolished disco records.
Somewhere, even Bill Veeck -- the baseball Barnum who came up with those and other lamentable promotions -- was smiling Sunday night as the White Sox promoted themselves into the 2005 World Series.
But some of the former White Sox players who spent 46 years trying in vain to bring a Fall Classic to Chicago had an up-close and drenched view of the end of the dry spell.
"I'm very happy for Jerry Reinsdorf and the organization," said Harold Baines, a true Chicago legend who spent 14 seasons -- in three separate shifts -- as a White Sox player and returned on board as Ozzie Guillen's bench coach.
"It feels great. This is very special for the organization. Foremost, I'm happy for the players; they put in a lot of hard work."
"This is as good as it gets for anyone from Chicago. A World Series! It's a fantastic high," Ed Farmer, a Chicago native who also pitched 2 1/2 seasons (1979-1981) on the South Side, said in the middle of the bedlam in Angel Stadium's visiting clubhouse. "It's a big moment for everyone from Jerry Reinsdorf to the lowest guy in the office."
"Now maybe they'll talk about us more than the Cubs," grinned Tim Raines, who patrolled the outfield for the White Sox from 1991 to 1995 and is still a 'Rock,' as their first base coach.
"It's always a great feeling. We've been close a couple of times, and in 1994 were robbed by the strike," Raines added. "But you never give up."
There are dry spells and there are droughts. Before finally winning one a year ago, the Red Sox had at least been in three World Series since the White Sox's last one, in 1959 -- two years before the Angels were borne of expansion.
The final out of the White Sox 6-3 win in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series triggered a celebration that was typical, except for perhaps the strength of the sprays out of the bottles of Korbel.
After all, the champagne had been on ice a long time, at least symbolically.
As the scene shifts back to Chicago, where the 2005 World Series will begin on Saturday, there doubtless will be more reunions with former players with an AL pennant the siren song for homecomings.
But an overdue pennant won so convincingly already released the pent-up frustrations of White Sox alumni still in uniform, or in the neighborhood.
"I'm so happy for the people of Chicago," said Farmer, a right-handed reliever who had 75 saves and 30 wins in a 13-season career that peaked with the 1980 Sox, for whom he saved 30. "The World Series will be a fantastic thing for the White Sox family."
Greg Walker, the White Sox first baseman through the '80s and now their hitting coach, joined others in expressing his greatest joy for Reinsdorf, who has owned and loves this team for a quarter century.
"I'm so happy for the ownership," Walker said. "And for the fans. But it always comes down to the players. I'm happy for everyone involved. You're not going to find another bunch of people who cared as much, about the organization.
"We're not perfect, but this is such a gutsy bunch of guys. If you ever doubt or second-guess them ... watch out."
While somewhat defensively pointing out that he indeed has experienced the World Series -- in 1990, with the Oakland team which lost to the Reds -- Baines just as quickly stressed that returning there with the White Sox is special.
"It feels great. It always feels great," Baines said. "But it's the players who won it. They never gave up. There really wasn't anything unique about them ... they just handled every fundamental part of the game."
"We still have a lot of hard work to do," Raines said. "We'll go home and get ready for whatever the National League sends us."
It had been exactly 16,825 days between World Series qualifiers for the White Sox. A long time to wait, to wonder, to wish.
Finally, a resilient and relentless bunch of players is winding its way back to the Windy City with the prize -- with former players who never experienced this moment forming their support group.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.