On Paul Konerko …

With all the Derek Jeter attention, I almost forgot that Paul Konerko also retired.

Which reminds me of a story …

Back when I was at Sports Illustrated, my editors assigned me a piece on Paul Konerko, at the time a slugging White Sox first baseman leading a hot team toward the playoffs. I was excited—Chicago was a great city, Konerko was a terrific player, nice-guy reputation, etc … etc.

So I flew out to the Windy City, arrived early at Comiskey Park, planted myself by Konerko’s locker and waited for his arrival. When he showed up, I introduced myself, congratulated him on the fantastic season, told him Sports Illustrated assigned me to write a lengthy profile of …

“No thanks,” he said.

Um … what?

“No thanks,” he said again.

I was befuddled—and he saw the confusion on my face. “Honestly,” he said, “I’m flattered. I truly am. But I believe in the team over the individual, and I really don’t want to draw any more attention to myself. It’s nothing personal. I’m sure you’re a good guy. But if it’s OK with you, I’m gonna pass.”

This had never happened before. Never, ever, ever, ever.

I was speechless.

And … dazzled.

Paul Konerko wasn’t being a dick.

He was being a ballplayer.

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