All of a sudden, Crede's got street cred
His huge play now makes him a huge fan favorite
CHICAGO -- Katie Kerr can pinpoint the exact moment that her feelings for Joe Crede changed.
It was Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, in the bottom of the ninth inning. A.J. Pierzynski had just reached base on the infamous strikeout call and then Crede doubled to give the White Sox a 2-1 victory over the Angels and square the ALCS at one game apiece.
"All year long I had said how much I wished the White Sox would have traded him," Kerr said. "I wasn't even upset when they left his name off the division T-shirts. But when he hit that double, that was the point of my forgiveness. Now, I'm a total Crede supporter."
Kerr's change of heart has become the norm for Sox fans as Crede has emerged as a local hero this postseason. The player who suffered through numerous boos and questions as to whether he was the Sox third baseman of the future is now the one that every Sox diehard has embraced.
Game-changing home runs, such as the one in the fourth inning of Game 1 of the World Series on Saturday, have put Crede's name in the spotlight. Even without the timely offensive hits, Crede's always-steady glove at third has made him one of the stars to emerge from this Chicago team.
It has been such a coming out party for Crede and Kerr's opinion of him changed so dramatically that Kerr, 21, felt she owed the third baseman an apology. The apology came as a column in the St. Ambrose college paper, for which Kerr is the sports editor.
"I was at Game 2 [of the ALCS] and as soon as I returned to school the next day I started writing the article," Kerr said. "I felt I owed him that after all that he had done. My mom sent it to the Sox and I hope he sees it and knows that Sox fans are appreciating what he's done."
Crede may not quite appreciate the stark change in fans' opinions of him, but someone who does is Sox fan Dan Zgobica. Zgobica, 35, of Oaklawn, Ill., stood amid a crowd of people on the U.S. Cellular Field concourse Sunday afternoon proudly wearing his authentic No. 24 grey Crede jersey.
A game-worn item that Zgobica won at the team's annual Soxfest in February 2002, the jersey was a source of ridicule for Zgobica. As Crede suffered through his own share of ups and downs early in career, Zgobica was the recipient of many opinions and thoughts on the player.
"I've been suffering through all of the criticisms that he received since I got this jersey," Zgobica said. "I got so sick of people bashing the poor lad."
Though the jersey helped his interest in Crede, Zgobica had followed him through the Sox Minor League system and knew that he would eventually break out to be a household name.
"When you see his stats in the Minor Leagues, you just knew he was the 'Next Big Guy,' so I got on the bandwagon and stuck with him in the hard times and the good times," Zgobica said. "Now he's coming up in the clutch when the Sox need him and he's doing it on a national stage. Finally, people are seeing the type of player he can be."
Rich Kwiatowski of Woodridge, Ill., was like Zgobica and saw that Crede was a future star. His opinion created a bit of controversy in the Kwiatowski family. The debate over what type of player Crede was created a feud between Rich and his brother, Dan.
"I always felt Crede was one of the best players in the league," Rich Kwiatowski said. "Even when he was in a slump, he still came up big for us defensively. He is a clutch player and he has proven that in the playoffs."
Brother Dan felt otherwise and wasn't afraid to voice his opinion. Despite the success Crede has shown recently on both the offensive and defensive ends of the field, Dan Kwiatowski is hesitant to change his opinion. But it's not because he still believes Crede isn't a good player.
"I can't change my opinion now only because it would be bad luck," he said with a smile.
The folk hero status of Crede has grown to great proportions and Kerr is very happy about that. But there is still one opinion about Crede that she hasn't changed and it has absolutely nothing to do with Crede's performance on the field.
"At the end of the article, I said that 'seriously, you have to do something about that hair, buddy,' " Kerr said with a laugh. "It's so hard to watch him with that hair of his. I'm OK with it because I know it's superstition. I'll allow it for now, but as soon as we win it's got to be cut."
Sure, the hair might not be Kerr's favorite, but what would a hero be without his trademark?
Kelly Thesier is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.