Happy Geoff Blum Day everybody!
Eleven years ago today (and tomorrow), Blum hit my favorite home run of all-time – that glorious liner in the 14th inning of the White Sox win in Game 3 of the 2005 World Series.
I love everything about that homer: the situation, the surprise of it all, Blum’s reaction and, most importantly, when that ball buzzed into the right field seats at Minute Maid Park, I knew, I KNEW, the White Sox were going to win the World Series.
And they did.
The next night, with Blum on the bench, the Sox completed the sweep of the Astros with a 1-0 victory to clinch the franchise’s first championship since 1917.
Two days later, the Sox and Blum celebrated the title with a parade and downtown ceremony with 1,000,000 of their closest friends.
And then, as quickly as that home run exited Minute Maid Park, Blum was gone.
He would never play for the White Sox or at U.S. Cellular Field again.
I followed Blum for the rest of his career and – just by happenstance – witnessed another shining moment of his in San Diego. On Aug. 27, 2007, Blum’s two-run homer in the seventh inning gave the Padres the lead for good in a 3-1 win over the Diamondbacks. The blast enabled Jake Peavy to get the win and gave our family – in SoCal for a wedding – the chance to see what “Trevor Time” was all about as Trevor Hoffman took the field to “Hells Bells” and notched the 516th of his record 601 saves.
I recall that 2 hour and 27 minute affair as one of the best games I’ve ever seen.
I am sure it’s because Geoff Blum homered.
In fact, it is.
The SoxNerd family watching the “Geoff Blum Game” in San Diego in 2007.
Blum retired after the 2012 season and became (and still is) an excellent broadcaster for the Astros.
When Blum accompanied Houston to U.S. Cellular Field for the first time as an announcer, I was hesitant to approach him. He seemed like a nice guy and all but, really I thought, how many times would this guy want to talk about that moment?
I could envision the encounter quickly devolving into an episode of the “Chris Farley Show.”
“Remember when you hit that World Series home run?”
“Yes, Dave, I do.”
“That was awesome.”
Plus, I was afraid I might wet myself.
Anyway, my fear was eased when Blum was welcomed back on the center field scoreboard during an inning break and he couldn’t have been more appreciative. Blum stood up, acknowledged the thunderous applause and tapped his chest over and over.
OK, I ADMIT IT! I TEARED UP AT THAT MOMENT.
The next time I had a chance to meet Blum, I didn’t let it go to waste.
My admiration of Blum and his homer is well known in my circles. The fact that I have a Blum White Sox jersey and I frequently re-enact the Game 3 homer have tipped people off to my obsession.
With that in mind, my supervisor at the Cell afforded me the opportunity to interview Blum for pieces they were assembling on the retiring Paul Konerko and the 10th anniversary of the 2005 World Series title.
Oftentimes when you build things up in your mind, you are disappointed.
This was NOT one of those times.
Many veteran journalists have horror stories of meeting their heroes or people they admire.
No horror story here.
My time with Blum was 20 of the friendliest, warmest minutes I have ever had. Blum, OK, “Geoff,” was so accommodating, so friendly. He patiently answered every question as if it THE home run had happened must minutes prior.
He raved about his time with the Sox, his Chicago experience and Paulie.
When the interview was over, the three of us returned to the press area where we all would work the game.
Blum agreed to come in the Scoreboard Control Room for picture. As we walked through the door, I got another thrill that rivaled the just-completed interview and the Game 3 homer in 2005.
I opened the door and announced, “Ladies and gentlemen of the Scoreboard Crew: Geoff Blum!”
After the applause, pictures and pleasantries, we parted company.
Much like that one gorgeous swing in the wee small hours of the morning 11 years ago, it was the perfect Geoff Blum moment.