Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011
Posted: 9:36 p.m.
By Chuck Garfien
Exactly two years ago today, Joe Crede took the field at the Metrodome against the Oakland As. He didnt know it at the time, but it would be the final game of his major league career.
Battling an injured back that on a scale between 1 and 10 had the pain level of 10, Crede came to the plate four times that day. He struck out every time.
The pain was just out of this world. I played the whole game through that pain, Crede said in an interview with Comcast SportsNet.
Afterwards, he walked into the office of Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and told him that his season was over. So was his career. He just didnt know it at the time.
It really bothered me, trying to come back the next year and not getting much for offers at all. Not being wanted in baseball is not a good feeling after youve played so well and all of sudden it just stops, Crede said. I wish it would have been a storybook ending, but probably 95 percent of major league players dont have a fairy tale ending.
Baseball might have stopped for Crede in 2009, but the pain in his back still remains. Its a problem that may never go away.
It eats at me everyday almost. Everyday I get out of bed, Crede said. I have to get up in the middle of the night and I feel that pain again in my back. It really bothers me. It usually takes me an hour, or an hour and a half to get back to feeling normal walking around. Its what I deal with on a daily basis.
What specifically is wrong with Credes back? Seemingly just about everything.
Theres arthritis back there. My joints are just swelling up, causing irritation. Im sure theres still some herniation in the lower part of the disc, which is irritating the nerves and stuff, Crede said.
The former White Sox third baseman has had three surgeries on his back, and so many cortisone shots during his playing career he doesnt want to know the number. What hed like to know is if there is a doctor somewhere in the world who can fix his back.
Hes yet to find him.
Ive been going to doctors trying to figure out whats going on back there. I dont know. I just dont really have a good enough answer, Crede said. Im kind of at a loss for words with it. How many doctors can you see about it and still feel the same way? Thats another frustrating thing about it for me, is seeing some of the top doctors supposedly in the world and still having my back feel the same way. Ive just kind of learned to deal with it and move on. Thats life.
Joe Crede's fondest memories of his White Sox career come from the magical 2005 season that resulted in a World Series Championship. Crede hit .333 with four home runs and 10 RBIs in the ALCS and World Series. (AP)
In his nine-year White Sox career, Crede made a name for himself diving for baseballs at the hot corner. His incredible plays might have been rally killers, but they also punished just about every fiber in his lower back.
I dont know if it was hereditary or a degenerative disc, which it very possibly could be. I hate to talk about it because Im someone who doesnt like to talk about himself.
But Tuesday, Crede was willing to speak about his calamity while sitting in the White Sox dugout, just yards away from his old third base spot. The White Sox invited Crede back to U.S. Cellular Field to honor him for his celebrated career.
Looking out at the diamond, memories of his playing days started flooding back -- both good and bad.
I can remember dropping a pop fly in the top of the ninth with two outs (vs. the Red Sox in July, 2005). Manny Ramirez on the next pitch hit a home run. We lost 1-0. In the headlines the next day it said Crede E, he said with a laugh. I wanted to crawl under a rock after that.
But he redeemed himself tenfold later that season, especially on Sept. 20 at U.S. Cellular, when he hit a walk-off homer in the 10th inning against the Indians, who had cut the White Sox lead in the Central Division from 15 games to 1 12.
It felt like we were going to blow this big lead here. It just felt like they had all the momentum in the world. But then I hit the home run, that kind of swung the momentum. That was a big moment.
So was the four-game sweep of the Houston Astros, giving the White Sox their first World Series title in 88 years. And there on one of Credes fingers was his championship ring.
Its been a while since Ive worn it, he said, admitting that hes kept it hidden in a closet all this time. I should probably put it in a safe or something, but I guess I live in the country.
Living without pain. Thats Credes goal. Hopefully he gets there. If he does, hell offer the doctor an enormous thank you.
Come to think of it, thats exactly what every White Sox fan would probably say to Joe.
For the memories.
Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox slugger Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.