Tuesday, February 16, 2010

#410 Luis Aparicio

#410 Luis Aparicio
In keeping with this week's trend of Class of 1984 Hall of Famers with solid nicknames, today brings "Little Looie". The half-obscured patch on his left sleeve was worn by the Orioles in 1964 to commemorate the sesquicentennial (that's 150th) anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner, which was written by Francis Scott Key in 1814 during the British bombardment of Baltimore's Fort McHenry. Nothing like a little history lesson with your baseball card blog reading, huh?

Fun facts about Luis Aparicio:

-Luis was born in Maracaibo, Venezuela, and signed with the White Sox in 1954. His father Luis Sr. and his uncle Ernesto were well-known infielders in their home country.

-At age 22, he began the 1956 season as Chicago's starting shortstop and became the first foreign-born player to win the American League Rookie of the Year award. That year he hit .266 and led the league in steals with 21; it was the first of nine consecutive seasons that he would be the stolen base king.

-Was an All-Star in ten different seasons and also won nine Gold Gloves.

-In 1959, he sparked the "Go-Go Sox" with 56 steals in addition to his flashy defense, and finished second in MVP voting to his double play partner Nellie Fox. The two were good friends off the field, and Luis named his son after Nellie.

-Despite Aparicio's strong performance in the 1959 World Series (8-for-26 [.308]), Chicago was bested by the Dodgers in six games.

-Was traded to the Orioles in a six-player deal prior to the 1963 season. The swap involved another former Rookie of the Year (Ron Hansen) and a fellow future Hall of Famer (Hoyt Wilhelm).

-Spent five years with the O's, winning a World Championship with them in 1966. That season he hit .276 with 25 swipes and a career-high 25 doubles and finished ninth in MVP balloting.

-Returned to Chicago in another six-player trade in November 1967. Spent only three seasons with the Pale Hose the second time around but posted the two highest single-season batting averages of his career despite being in his mid-thirties (.280 in 1969 and .313 in 1970).

-Finished his career with three years in Boston, retiring in 1973 as a .262 hitter over his 18 seasons. He hit 394 doubles, 83 home runs, and 791 RBI, and stole 506 bases (20th-best in history when he retired, still 34th-best). Also held the following records (since broken) for a shortstop: most games played, assists, and double plays.

-Was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984. The White Sox retired his #11 that year, though he gave permission for it to be "un-retired" in 2010 for fellow countryman Omar Vizquel, who broke his record for games played by a shortstop. Among other honors, he was inducted into the Venezuelan Hall of Fame in 2003, threw out the first pitch at the White Sox' first home World Series game in 2005, and had a statue in his likeness (alongside a statue of keystone partner Nellie Fox) unveiled at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field in 2006. Additionally, the best Venezuelan player in the major leagues has received the Luis Aparicio Award each year since 2004.
#410 Luis Aparicio (back)


  1. Absolutely a fabulous card. One of my favorite players in my favorite O's hat, striking a classic baseball card pose, with Yankee Stadium (where I saw so many games) in the background. Glad this one popped up.

  2. Bob - You'll probably like tomorrow's card too...wink wink.

  3. He also tripped and fell rounding third base in the penultimate game of the 1972 regular season, costing the Red Sox the American League East.

    But we still love him.

  4. Sawx - Yeah, we all make mistakes. Just ask Jack Cust.