White Sox employee wrongfully imprisoned for 23 years receives World Series watch

Mark Townsend
Yahoo Sports Contributor

On Wednesday, a ceremony that was 13 years in the making was quietly held at Guaranteed Rate Field. Before fans filled the stands, Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf presented groundskeeper Nevest Coleman with a watch commemorating the team’s World Series title in 2005.

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Coleman was the final recipient of this special token of Reinsdorf’s appreciation. All of the grounds crew members who were employed during that magical 2005 season were rewarded the following year.

The delay on Coleman’s ceremony wasn’t due to an oversight by the White Sox. It was due to the 23 years of hell he faced while wrongfully serving a prison sentence.

The short ceremony was attended by members of Coleman’s family. Many of them were responsible for leading the fight for Coleman to receive a retrial. The retrial was finally granted in November of 2017. In February, his name was officially cleared. The following month, he was rehired as a White Sox groundskeeper.

It was emotional. It was heartfelt. It was undeniably a well deserved moment for a man who has endured through unfathomable circumstances.

What led to Nevest Coleman’s wrongful imprisonment?

In 1994, a then 25-year-old Coleman was arrested, tried, and convicted of a brutal rape and murder of a 20-year-old woman. He and an accomplice were sentenced to life in prison, but both spent over two decades maintaining their innocence while stating that they were coerced into confessing by detectives. Initiatives were set forth to bring attention to the case, but those were dismissed until last year. 

What led to Nevest Coleman’s release from prison?

In 2017, new DNA evidence was discovered that seriously called into question the previous conviction. A judge called for a retrial in November and prosecutors officially dropped charges against both men after DNA matched a serial rapist.

Why did Nevest Coleman receive a World Series watch?

As Jerry Reinsdorf explained during the presentation, “Nevest should have been with the team in 2005 when they won the World Series.”

Coleman was clearly a well-liked and respected member of the organization then. By all accounts, he’s seamlessly stepped back into his role this season. Reinsdorf feels strongly that because Coleman never should have missed being a part of that moment, he shouldn’t be left out of the celebration. To Reinsdorf, that meant giving him the same watch every other grounds crew member received. 

Nothing can replace the time Coleman missed with his family. But this gesture gives him something uplifting to reflect on and take with him moving forward.

White Sox groundskeeper Nevest Coleman receives World Series watch after spending 23 wrongful years in prison. (Getty Images)

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