Teams: Chicago White Sox 1956-1962, 1968-1970; Baltimore Orioles1963-1967; Boston Red Sox 1971-1973
While shortstop Luis Aparicio was patrolling American League infields from the mid-1950s to the 1970s, he was widely regarded as one of the best fielders at that position that the game has ever seen. Along with White Sox teammate Nellie Fox, Luis formed one of the best keystone combinations in baseball history.
Luis Ernesto Aparicio y Montiel was born in 1934 in Venezuela, to one of the most highly regarded baseball players in that country's history. Luis Aparicio Sr. was the best shortstop in Venezuela for 25 years, and he passed on his skill to his son. Luis Jr. took over his father's position on the town team in 1953, and was signed by the Chicago White Sox in '54.
"Little Looie" so impressed the White Sox during his two years in the minors that the White Sox traded their starting shortstop, Chico Carrasquel (also a Venezuelan native), to make room for Aparicio in 1956. He made an immediate impact on the league, hitting .266 with a league-best 21 stolen bases and winning the Rookie of the Year Award.
During his 20-year career, Luis Aparicio
never performed for a single inning
at any position other than shortstop.
Aparicio was also the catalyst of a "Go-Go" Sox team that challenged the Yankees dominance in the 1950s. After being runners-up for several years, the Sox finally won the flag in 1959. They finished dead last in home runs but first in steals. All-Star Aparicio teamed with keystone partner Fox as each led the league at his position in putouts, assists, and fielding percentage. Fox won the Most Valuable Player Award, and Luis was second in the voting.
Aparicio's 56 steals in 1959 (his previous best was 29) not only led the league, but represented a new level of performance for Luis, a level that left the rest of the league in the dust. He posted totals of 51, 53, 31, 40, and 57 over the next five seasons, but only one rival was able to swipe more than 30 during the same span. He won nine consecutive stolen base titles, a record that has never been broken. Along with Maury Wills of the Dodgers, Aparicio was a vanguard of an emerging generation that relied on speed.
Aparicio was unparalleled as a defensive player. He played more games at shortstop (2,581), was involved in more double plays (1,553), and threw out more men than any shortstop in history. He had more assists than any other shortstop and won nine Gold Gloves in three decades. He led AL shortstops in fielding average in eight seasons, in assists seven times, and in putouts four times. Luis was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984.
Here are Luis Aparicio's major league totals:
|BA||G ||AB ||R ||H ||2B ||3B ||HR ||RBI ||SB |
|.262 ||2,599||10,230||1,335||2,677||394 ||92 ||83 ||791 ||506 |
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