Chicago White Sox: Top 10 Moments from U.S. Cellular Field Era

Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

This morning marks the beginning of a new era for the Chicago White Sox, as the ballpark at 333 W. 35th Street once known as U.S. Cellular Field officially assumes its new namesake, Guaranteed Rate Field.

The Chicago White Sox have called U.S. Cellular Field home for the past 14 seasons, but after signing a deal with Chicago-based mortgage company Guaranteed Rate Mortgage this past August, U.S. Cellular Field is no more.

The ballpark shed its U.S. Cellular Field markings on Monday afternoon, replaced this morning by new Guaranteed Rate Field branding inside and outside of the stadium. Fans are not excited about the red downward arrow that comes with the new branding, and the White Sox understand. The White Sox attempted to have the mortgage company modify the arrow to appear to be a home plate for the purpose of the ballpark branding, and the company declined to oblige the request.

The Chicago White Sox agreed to a 13-year deal with the mortgage company that will have their home don the Guaranteed Rate Field namesake starting today. We have seen many excellent moments at U.S. Cellular Field over the years from hosting the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, to Game 1 of the 2005 World Series, and other memorable moments like Frank Thomas and Paul Konerko having their jersey numbers retired, no-hitters, fights, pennant races and milestone home runs by some of the best to ever wear a White Sox jersey.

But before we move on from “The Cell” for good, lets take a stroll down memory lane and look back at some of the best moments that the ballpark on 35th and Shields has witnessed while holding the U.S. Cellular Field name. These are the 10 most memorable moments in U.S. Cellular Field history.

10. Frank Thomas Jersey Retirement

On August 29, 2010, the Chicago White Sox honored one of the greatest players in franchise history by retiring his number 35 jersey in front of 39,433 fans. The White Sox also added Thomas’ face to the wall in left-center field in between Billy Pierce and Carlton Fisk.

Frank Thomas was arguably the most prolific slugger in White Sox franchise history, hitting 448 home runs during his tenure with the White Sox (1990-2005), and he would hit a total of 521 home runs in his career. The Big Hurt played in 1,959 games for the White Sox and accumulated over 2,000 hits during that span.

Thomas was named the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 1993 and 1994, and also represented the White Sox in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game five times (1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 ,1997).

The Chicago White Sox would lose to the visiting New York Yankees 2-1 on that day, and eventually further honor Thomas by unveiling a statue of him on the outfield concourse behind section 160. The Big Hurt’s statue was later joined by his teammate Paul Konerko, the two best first baseman in franchise history.

9. Mark Buehrle‘s No-Hitter

On April 18, 2007, Mark Buehrle took the hill versus the Texas Rangers at U.S. Cellular Field in front of 25,390 fans. Buehrle would throw his first career no-hitter on this date as the White Sox would beat the visiting Texas Rangers by a score of 6-0.

Buehrle would allow only one base-runner during the game, that being Sammy Sosa, who reached on a fifth inning walk. Sosa was then picked off at first base by Buehrle in the next at-bat. Buehrle’s no-hitter was the first in stadium history and the first by an American League pitcher in nearly five seasons.

Buehrle was his usual efficient self on that day, throwing 106 pitches while striking out eight Texas Rangers hitters, and facing the minimum 27 hitters. He would finish the 2007 season with a 15-12 record with a 3.79 ERA, while eclipsing the 200 innings pitched mark for the eighth consecutive season.

Jermaine Dye would hit a grand slam, and Jim Thome would also hit a pair of solo-home runs in the ballgame. The no-hitter would be the first of two for Buehrle during his career on the south side of Chicago.

8. World Series Banner Ceremony

On April 2, 2006, the defending World Series champion Chicago White Sox unveiled their new 2005 championship banner at U.S. Cellular Field during the home opening series against the Cleveland Indians.

The White Sox kicked off their championship festivities along with their yearlong defense of the World Series title during that Opening Day series against the Cleveland Indians. The 38,802 fans in attendance watched as the White Sox unveiled banners for the 1906, 1917 and 2005 World Series championships in the light fixtures in the outfield. The White Sox would go on to beat the rival Indians 10-4 on Opening Day 2006.

The White Sox would distribute their World Series championship rings two days later on April 4, 2006, in the finale of the three-game series with the Tribe. Since World Series rings weren’t introduced until 1922, these were the first ever Chicago White Sox World Series rings issued.

The White Sox were defeated by the Cleveland Indians 8-2 in front of 37,591 fans that day.

7. Paul Konerko Day

On September 27, 2014, Paul Konerko was honored by the White Sox before the game, his last game at U.S. Cellular Field before retirement.

Konerko played in 2,268 games as a member of the Chicago White Sox, during which time he accumulated a .281 batting average with 432 home runs and 1,383 RBI for the Pale Hose. Konerko finished his career after that 2014 season with a total of 439 home runs and 1,412 RBI over parts of 18 major league seasons.

The Captain would appear in six Major League Baseball All-Star Games for the Chicago White Sox over the course of his 16 seasons on the south side of Chicago, and finish in the top 25 in American League Most Valuable Player Award voting five times, reaching as high as fifth in 2010.

The White Sox unveiled a statue in the former captain’s honor in the outfield concourse behind section 160 right beside his former teammate Frank Thomas.

The White Sox would defeat the Kansas City Royals 5-4 in front of 38,160 fans, and eventually retire Konerko’s number 14 jersey on May 27, 2015. Paul Konerko still remains the last player in Major League Baseball to hit a grand slam home run in the World Series.

6. Crosstown Showdown Rumble

On May 20, 2006, in a game between the two crosstown foes at U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago Cubs catcher Michael Barrett would take exception to the celebration at the plate by White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski after scoring. After a collision at the plate jarred the ball loose from the glove of Barrett, Pierzynski would slap home plate aggressively. After exchanging words, Barrett punched Pierzynski in the face, sparking a benches-clearing tussle.

After the brawl, umpires debated for 15 minutes who would be ejected from the game, eventually deciding that Pierzynski, Barrett, Brian Anderson and John Mabry would be removed from the ballgame.

White Sox outfielder Scott Podsednik would get the last laugh as he would take Cubs catcher Michael Barrett down with a tackle during the tussle. After the brawl was sorted out and play resumed, Podsednik proceeded to reach base, loading the bases and setting the stage for a Tadahito Iguchi grand slam. The White Sox would win the ballgame by a score of 7-0.

5. Blackout Game

On September 30, 2008, the Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins required a one-game playoff to crown the 2008 American League Central champion. The game would be played at U.S. Cellular Field and become known as “The Blackout Game” as the Chicago crowd dressed in all black in support of the White Sox.

The White Sox would defeat the Twins 1-0 in front of 40,354 fans, as John Danks pitched his best game as a member of the White Sox, an eight-inning, two-hit shutout, while future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey, Jr. would make his most memorable play during his short tenure with the White Sox, throwing out a runner at the plate to preserve the lead and eventual victory.

The lone run in the ballgame would come off of the bat of slugger Jim Thome in the form of a solo home run, and White Sox outfielder Brian Anderson would make a diving catch in right field for the final out of the game, securing victory for the White Sox.

The White Sox were crowned American League Central champions before losing to the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS.

4. Buehrle’s Perfect Game/The Catch

On July 23, 2009, Mark Buehrle would further ingrain himself into U.S. Cellular Field history as he threw his second career no-hitter and the first perfect game in U.S. Cellular Field history.

Buehrle would lead the White Sox to a victory over the Tampa Bay Rays and become the first pitcher at the time to throw a perfect game since Randy Johnson did it in May of 2004 versus the Atlanta Braves. It was just the second perfect game in White Sox history, and the 17th no-hitter in franchise history as well.

Buehrle would get some help from former White Sox outfielder Dewayne Wise as he climbed the wall to make a marvelous game saving catch late in the game, which would go on to be known as “The Catch” on the south side of Chicago.

During Buehrle’s next start on July 29, 2009, the southpaw tossed five and 2/3 scoreless innings to begin the game, giving him the Major League Baseball record for consecutive batters retired at 41 in a row, with number 41 being former teammate Joe Crede.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn would name July 30, 2009 “Mark Buehrle Day” across the State of Illinois, and Buehrle even received a congratulatory phone call from President Barack Obama on the day of the perfect game.

3. 2003 MLB All-Star Game

On July 15, 2003, the Chicago White Sox hosted the 74th Major League Baseball All-Star Game in the inaugural season for the U.S. Cellular Field branding.

The 2003 All-Star Game still stands as the lone All-Star Game in the ballpark’s history, and a crowd of 47,609 (a U.S. Cellular Field record) would watch the American League All-Stars defeat the National League All-Stars by a score of 7-6.

In the eighth inning of the ballgame Dodgers closer Eric Gagne entered the game with a 6-4 lead over the American League All-Stars. Gagne gave up a one-out double to Garret Anderson, who was replaced by pinch-runner Melvin Mora. Vernon Wells singled Mora home to make it a one-run game. Then Hank Blalock hit a dramatic two-out, go-ahead home run to put the AL up 7-6.

That would be the only time that Eric Gagne would allow a lead to slip away the entire 2003 season. The American League All-Stars would go on to win the game by the same score after former White Sox closer Keith Foulke entered the game in the ninth inning and retired the side in order. Angels outfielder Garret Anderson went 3-for-4 on the night with a double, a home run and two RBI, earning him MVP honors for the game.

The White Sox were represented by Esteban Loaiza, Magglio Ordonez and Carl Everett in the 74th annual Midsummer Classic at U.S. Cellular Field.

This game was also the first All-Star Game in which the winning team would earn home field advantage in the World Series for their respective league champion in October.

2. Game 1 of the 2005 World Series

On October 22, 2005, the Chicago White Sox hosted Game 1 of the 2005 World Series versus the Houston Astros. The game would be one of only two World Series games in the ballpark’s history as the White Sox would clinch the series victory on the road in Houston.

The 101st edition of Major League Baseball’s Fall Classic featured the White Sox, hosting their first World Series game since 1959, and the Houston Astros, who were appearing in their first ever World Series.

Former teammates with the New York Yankees, Jose Contreras and Roger Clemens squared off in Game 1 of the World Series, with Contreras getting the best of Clemens and the Astros on that night as he threw seven innings, allowing three runs and earning the victory for the White Sox.

White Sox outfielder Jermaine Dye gave the White Sox and early lead in the first inning with a solo home run against Roger Clemens, who would post the shortest World Series start of his career that night, lasting only two innings and surrendering three runs.

In the eighth inning, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen walked onto the field and signaled to the White Sox bullpen for “The Big Guy” Bobby Jenks, who would record the save and secure a 1-0 series lead for the White Sox.

A crowd of 41,206 would watch the White Sox strike first in the 2005 World Series as they defeated the visiting Houston Astros by a score of 5-3.

1. Paul Konerko’s World Series Grand Slam

In Game 2 of the 2005 World Series, with rain persistent throughout the entire game, White Sox starter Mark Buehrle allowed a first pitch home run to Astros infielder Morgan Ensberg, before the Sox answered with two runs of their own in the bottom of the second inning against Astros starter Andy Pettitte.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, the White Sox would trail the Astros by a score of 4-2 before loading the bases against Astros reliever Dan Wheeler with a double by Juan Uribe, a walk by Tadahito Iguchi and a hit-by-pitch by Jermaine Dye.

The Astros brought in reliever Chad Qualls to face Paul Konerko, who promptly blasted the 18th grand slam in World Series history on the first pitch of the at-bat.

The image of Konerko pumping his fist in the air as he rounded first base was immortalized forever by the White Sox when they chose to use that depiction for his statue in the outfield of U.S. Cellular Field.

Scott Podsednik would eventually hit a rare walk-off home run to give the White Sox a 7-6 victory, as well as a 2-0 lead in the World Series, with the series shifting to Houston. The White Sox would sweep the Astros and that would be the last World Series game played at U.S. Cellular Field to date, as well as the last World Series grand slam in Major League Baseball to date.

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