LOS ANGELES -- With each final trip to a stadium this season, Paul Konerko has taken in the sights and sounds one last time.
With plans to retire at the end of the season, the White Sox veteran has snapped a photo at each and every park the White Sox have played at for the last time this season. Though Konerko has created memories at many of these venues, he admits that Dodger Stadium has more sentimental value than most as it was the site of his first major league hit and his major league debut.
Konerko singled in a pinch-hit at-bat on Sept. 8, 1997 in the eighth inning of a loss to the Florida Marlins.
A first-round pick of the Dodgers in 1994, Konerko spent 3 1/2 seasons in the minors with the franchise and appeared in 55 games with the team before he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds, who after the season dealt him to the White Sox.
“I think every player remembers the first team he’s with when he comes to the big leagues,” Konerko said. “Unfortunately it was pretty short-lived here.
“When I think about the Dodgers I think of my minor league time. I don’t really think about my big league time.”
Konerko didn’t have much time to get a lay of the land, though he loves the history attached to Dodger Stadium. The first baseman only had 166 plate appearances with the Dodgers before they traded him and Dennys Reyes to the Reds for Brian Shaw on July 4, 1998. Of his 437 career home runs, only four came with the Dodgers. He hit three more with Cincinnati before the offseason deal for Mike Cameron.
Konerko said he holds no ill will towards Los Angeles nor does he spend much time thinking about how his career might have gone had he remained with the Dodgers.
“Maybe I wouldn’t have done stuff I did with the White Sox had I not been traded twice and had the experiences I’ve had to kind of put it into place,” Konerko said. “You have to factor all that in. You can’t say I would have done the same thing. It’s not fair.
“The way my mindset was when I was young is like, ‘I’m going to have a good big league career, I’m going to do everything I want to do’ and it’s just a matter of what team kind of allowed me to go out there and develop and play. No hard feelings with the Dodgers, they just weren’t the place to do that at the time. This team was.”