Konerko humbled by Lifetime Achievement Award

Konerko humbled by Lifetime Achievement Award

CHICAGO -- Paul Konerko may no longer wear a White Sox uniform, but his place among elite Chicago athletes remains.

The former White Sox captain was honored on Wednesday night with a Lifetime Achievement Award during the 27th annual Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards, which benefits the March of Dimes.

"It's pretty special. There's a lot of names on that list," Konerko said. "When you're a kid growing up, you think you want to make it to the big leagues and you think you want to do something as a player, but even that you know is a long shot. To be considered in the same breath as some of those other guys in this town, for whatever it might be -- this event or for any event -- when you start seeing some of the names on there, you just don't think of yourself as one of those guys."

Konerko is conspicuously missing from White Sox camp in Arizona, having retired at the end of last season after an 18-year career. The final 16 seasons were with the White Sox, and Konerko was a six-time All-Star and World Series champion on the South Side.

"One of my goals was to spend much of my career in one place, and I was lucky to do that here," he said. "The town treated me great while I was here. I tried to earn my way the whole time I was here."

The event, which honored Chicago athletes of multiple sports, also paid tribute to Ernie Banks and Minnie Minoso, both of whom died in the last two months. Minoso, who died on Sunday and whose memorial service will take place in Chicago this weekend, also spent nearly his entire career with the White Sox.

"A million little talks in front of my locker, Minnie just comes rolling through the clubhouse," Konerko said. "Most of the time you'd see him pop in when the team wasn't playing well, and he's got to be the ultimate White Sox fan of all time. He would come through and no matter how bad the team was doing or what was going on with us, whether he came through the clubhouse -- whether it was personally or as a team -- you'd think, well Minnie thinks we just won the World Series. He was very positive, and a legend, really."

Konerko retired as the franchise's leader in total bases (4,010) and ranks among White Sox leaders in nearly every offensive category. His 432 homers are 16 behind Frank Thomas' club record, and Konerko ranks third in hits (2,292) and doubles (406).

Konerko lives in Arizona -- the Sox shipped his U.S. Cellular Field locker to him there -- but he will likely return to the South Side this summer when the White Sox retire his No. 14 before the first pitch of a 3:10 p.m. CT game against the Twins on May 23. He will be the 11th White Sox player to have his number retired.

"I don't think until I see it up there that you'll actually think you're that guy or that deserving of it," Konerko said. "There's plenty of guys that I looked up to when I was a kid or while I was playing that don't have their numbers retired that no matter what ever happens, they'll always be better than me in my eyes because I'm looking at it from inside out. But I think, more than anything, it's just a really nice gesture by the team to not only do it -- but a lot of teams make players wait, for whatever reason I have no idea -- but the fact that it's happening just months after I retire says a lot about the White Sox and it says a lot about [owner Jerry Reinsdorf]."

Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.