CHICAGO – Jermaine Dye (search) is off to a big start in his second World Series. Dye homered off Roger Clemens in the first inning and walked twice to help the Chicago White Sox beat the Houston Astros 5-3 Saturday night in Game 1.
The oft-injured right fielder is playing in his first World Series (search) since his rookie year with Atlanta in 1996, when he went 2-for-17 (.118) with one RBI against the New York Yankees.
"Being a rookie, you don't know what to expect out of a World Series. You're just happy to be there. It's basically a lot of rah-rah," Dye said. "Now, I've had a lot of playoff experience with Oakland. This is my fifth time in the postseason. I'm just happy to get back and I hope to get a ring this time."
Batting third in the lineup, Dye fouled off some tough pitches from Clemens and drove a 3-2 delivery over the right-field fence for his first homer in this postseason.
"Just got a fastball out over the plate and did what I wanted to do," Dye said. "I think the ball was carrying. I think the wind was bouncing off the stands and sending the ball back out."
It was Chicago's first World Series home run since Ted Kluszewski's three-run shot in Game 6 of the 1959 World Series at Comiskey Park (search) against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"When I hit it, I thought it was probably gone," Dye said.
Big Stars Back Home
Ozzie Guillen saw Luis Aparicio and moved quickly to give him a big hug, two Venezuelans and former White Sox shortstops united at the World Series.
"He deserves everything. He's been a great friend and he's the same person I've known since was a kid. He hasn't changed a bit," Aparicio said of Guillen, who managed the White Sox to their first World Series since 1959. That's the year the slick-fielding Aparicio stole 56 bases and helped the "Go-Go Sox" win the pennant before they lost the Series to the Dodgers.
Aparicio was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1956 and Guillen got the honor in 1985.
No wonder their native country is filled with White Sox fans.
"He's got Venezuela people crazy," Aparicio said. "Everybody was asking if he had a chance, if he's going to win. ... This is something that is big, huge in Venezuela," Aparicio said.
Before he caught a first pitch from Aparicio, Guillen was given a statue named after Aparicio from the Venezuelan people. White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf made the presentation.
"I remember I was Rookie of the Year, it was a great honor to be in that same position in that same level that Luis Aparicio was," Guillen said. "Too bad I was not as good a player to be a Hall of Famer like he is. But to know him is an honor."
Joining Aparicio on the mound as he threw out the first pitch Saturday night were 1959 teammates, Bob Shaw, J.C. Martin, Billy Pierce, Jim Landis and Jim Rivera.
Andy Pettitte, a seasoned veteran of the postseason and the World Series during his career with the New York Yankees, will pitch Sunday night's Game 2 against Chicago lefty Mark Buehrle.
"This is right there with my first trip in 1996," Pettitte said, describing the thrill of helping the Astros in their first appearance.
Pettitte has the reputation as a top big-game pitcher, especially in the postseason where he is 14-9 in his career, including 3-4 in the World Series. He's 1-1 so far this season.
"I've had a lot of chances to pitch in a lot of big games with New York and it's helped me I think to be able to relax and to be able to calm myself down," said Pettitte, who was injured when the Astros won the NL wild card in 2004.
"I'm like a kid in a candy store, again, though, because I missed out last year. So these postseason games are so different and I didn't have a chance to have those last year with the injury."
Buehrle, 2-0 so far in the postseason, will be making his first appearance in the World Series. And Pettitte is someone he's always admired.
"Anytime you watch World Series games, playoffs, you always see him and Roger (Clemens) playing with the Yankees," Buehrle said. "I obviously respect a guy like that and the success he's had in the major leagues."
Buehrle has pitched especially well at U.S. Cellular Field, where he is 10-2 this season.
Home and Away
Houston Astros general manager Tim Purpura got his start across the street from U.S. Cellular Field.
Purpura grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago, and his parents were White Sox fans. Not only did he go to games at old Comiskey Park, but he'd hang out by the players' parking lot, trying to get autographs.
"Got quite a few," Purpura said. "I've still got a few balls at home."
Purpura's father knew several people in the White Sox organization, and he introduced his son to all of them — including former GM Roland Hemond.
"I got to start that dream process of becoming a general manager," Purpura said. "I learned a lot of the game from coming to the park across the street."
Purpura still has family in the area, and he had to get 30 tickets for relatives and friends.
"I've described it as surreal," he said. "I grew up with my father talking to me about going to the '59 World Series. I've got the program he had at home."
Just as the Astros finished batting practice, first baseman Mike Lamb spent about 10 minutes with six or seven members of the grounds crew as they groomed the dirt cutout in front of the bag.
The groundskeepers dropped to their knees and pounded away at the dirt. Turns out, they were burying a small TV camera just a little deeper to make sure a ball in play would not hit it and perhaps deflect in another direction.
"The camera was sticking up too high, just a hair," groundskeeper Harry Smith said.
The White Sox bullpen has not allowed a run in 10 innings this postseason. ... Scott Podsednik's triple was Chicago's first in a World Series since Chick Gandil in Game 8 in 1919 against the Cincinnati Reds. ... Lamb gave the Astros their first World Series run with a homer in the second inning, becoming the 29th player to connect in his first Series at-bat. ... Chicago's Carl Everett dropped down a sacrifice bunt in the fifth, his first all year. ... Houston rookie Wandy Rodriguez walked five batters, the most by a reliever in a World Series game since Bobby Castillo also walked five for the Dodgers in Game 1 of the 1981 Series at Yankee Stadium.