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Congratulating the Chicago White Sox

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, I rise today as a Senator, as an Illinoisan, and as a proud resident of the South Side of Chicago to congratulate the Chicago White Sox for winning the 2005 World Series. As my fellow South Siders know, it has been a long time coming.

A little bit of history: Founded in 1900 as the Chicago White Stockings, this year's team reached the World Series for the first time since 1959, and this is a '59-style cap that I have here with me. 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 in 1917, 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. Winning by the skin of your teeth has been our style. Win or die trying, that is our motto this year.

I congratulate my colleague from Texas. The Houston Astros were an outstanding team. But it just so happened that this year they ran into the buzz saw of the Chicago White Sox.

I congratulate Jermaine Dye, who is the World Series MVP. But I am sure he will 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 balanced and selfless teams any of us have 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 two 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 three. 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 grew 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.

I don't want to belabor this issue. I know those of you who had to listen to Red Sox fans last year may have gotten a little weary of those of us who have all this pent-up energy when we finally win the championship.

But I do want to say that the entire city of Chicago and the entire State of Illinois are extraordinarily proud.

I 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 South Side, around the city of Chicago, and around the entire State of Illinois.

Let me make one last point. While we were watching the game the other night, in the drenching rain Sunday evening there was a sign held up by an elderly woman 92 years old. She said: I've been waiting for this for 88 years.

I think it gave you some sense of how much this means to the city of Chicago and to those blue-collar neighborhoods made up of Black, White, and Hispanic who were represented so ably by their team. It spoke to the diversity of this country and the fact that we work together in ways that make us all proud.

Senator DURBIN and myself will be introducing a resolution later today.

I want to turn it over to my senior colleague from the great State of Illinois to maybe add a few other remarks regarding this outstanding team.

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