Reinsdorf soaks up first AL title

Reinsdorf soaks up first AL title

ANAHEIM -- Just one more out.

One more grounder hit to shortstop Juan Uribe, who would use his cannon-like arm to retire the Angels' Casey Kotchman and close out the White Sox first trip to the World Series since 1959.

Maybe it would be a Jose Contreras strikeout, accomplished with a 95-mph fastball or his tantalizing split-finger, serving as a more than fitting way for the de facto ace to finish off the fourth straight complete game from the White Sox staff.

Or how about a line drive to second baseman Tadahito Iguchi, whose hustle and sacrifice since coming over from Japan has embodied the team's spirit?

Whatever the manner in which it would be accomplished, sitting there with a 6-3 lead Sunday night and a 3-1 advantage in the American League Championship Series, only one thought ran through chairman Jerry Reinsdorf's mind.

"I was thinking, 'Oh, my god. We are one out from the World Series!'" said Reinsdorf with a smile, after Kotchman grounded out to Paul Konerko to end years of futility and begin a celebration that should last at least six or seven days.

"At that point, I remembered back to something that [Commissioner] Bud Selig told me in 1982," Reinsdorf added. "When the last out was made by his Brewers team at the time, he was stunned for a moment and then said to himself, 'We just won the American League pennant.'

"He couldn't believe it. I have that same feeling. My second feeling was for our fans, who suffered for a long, long time. They really deserve it."

Nobody deserves this ultimate level of baseball success more than Reinsdorf and vice chairman Eddie Einhorn, whose 25 years in charge of the White Sox rank as the second longest ownership tenure, behind club founder Charles Comiskey. Reinsdorf is no stranger to championships, having been part of six NBA titles as the owner of the Chicago Bulls.

But manager Ozzie Guillen quipped before the game that if he picked up a World Series win with the White Sox, Reinsdorf would never wear any of those Bulls rings again.

"He would trade all six of those titles for one baseball championship," said Guillen of Reinsdorf.

Before moving quickly downstairs to the jubilantly chaotic clubhouse, both Reinsdorf and Einhorn stopped in the suite of Arte Moreno, the owner of the Angels, to congratulate him on the team's great season. Moreno has talked in the past of the help Reinsdorf provided when he was buying the Angels, and how Einhorn simply is just a genuinely likeable individual.

As Reinsdorf walked out of the suite and headed to the stairway, one erstwhile reporter asked the chairman how he felt about winning the American League pennant. Reinsdorf said at the time the victory hadn't come close to sinking in.

Thirty minutes later, after taking part in a team picture and numerous radio and television interviews, Reinsdorf's opinion hadn't changed.

"I will have to take overnight to think what it means," Reinsdorf said. "The only thought going through my mind is how happy I am for Sox fans and the fans of Chicago. They contributed so much by coming out and watching us play, giving us the resources we needed to put the team together.

"I'm very proud of Kenny [Williams, GM] and Ozzie and all of our coaches and even the Minor League instructors for all they did. At the end of the day, though, the players have to get it done, and they did."

Einhorn, who served as the club's chief operating officer for 10 years, said he thought the postseason would be a regular occurrence after the White Sox won the American League West in 1983. But it took a while for the franchise to break "a culture of losing," in his estimation.

As he walked behind a stunned Reinsdorf, Einhorn pointed out that in some ways, the long time period in between World Series appearances makes the 2005 team's accomplishment even sweeter.

"What do they say, good things come to those who wait? And wait, and wait and wait," the affable Einhorn said with a smile. "The longer you wait, the better something feels. That's why I feel so good right now."

Of course, Reinsdorf and Einhorn could feel even better in about two weeks, if the White Sox win postseason series No. 3 against either the Astros or Cardinals. Reinsdorf already has expressed a preference to face St. Louis and manager Tony LaRussa, who is like a brother to the chairman.

But the Astros hold a 3-1 series edge, heading into Game 5 Monday in Houston. Reinsdorf won't qualify this success based on a World Series victory, though. He wants the organization and the fans to enjoy what they have waited so long to witness and think about the future when the time comes.

"Four more wins would be really nice," Reinsdorf said. "Regardless of what happens in the World Series, it has been a wonderful year."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.