Chaparral's Paul Konerko retires from the White Sox

Posted: Updated:
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.-- Paul Konerko spent 16 years playing first base for the White Sox. But his story began at Scottsdale's Chaparral High School.

"The way he carries himself, the type of career he's had, the type of person that he's been and obviously what a tremendous player that he's been," said Chaparral's current head baseball coach Sam Messina.

Long after Konerko left the fields of the Firebirds, his legacy still stands.

"Any of our players that makes it to the major leagues, we get a jersey-- ideally we like to have them sign it-- then we retire those numbers and we have those jerseys hanging up back in our baseball office," said Coach Messina.

Konerko helped lead Chaparral to its very first state championship game in 20 years in 1994.

Scott Hanish was on the CHS team with him and now has a bat company called Zinger Bats.

"He was that much better than anybody else around. He just did things differently. The ball just came off his bat differently.  And I mean, he had what it took to be able to get there and then hard work over years and years is what got him there and kept him there for so long," said Hanish.

3TV spoke to Hanish when he arrived in Chicago-- along with some other high school teammates-- to join Konerko in a celebration of his 18 year career in the major leagues.

"I think we've all lived vicariously through Paul," said Hanish.

In a tribute video, Konerko thanks the fans of the Windy City picking up baseballs to symbolize the memories there.

"It never really got to him. He kinda stayed true to who he was," said Hanish.

Chicago sent Konerko off with signs, applause, and tears.

"The town loves him. He just fits," said coach Messina.