Story of the Week
Hank Greenberg had a choice of Venezuelan shortstops in the 1950’s, and guessed wrong. The Indians’ General Manager didn’t think Luis Aparicio was worth a $10,000 bonus, and traded instead for his countryman, "Chico" Carrasquel. Carrasquel’s career ended in 1959, the same year Aparicio led his Chicago White Sox to a pennant, their first since the scandal year of 1919.
While Maury Wills is generally given credit for glamorizing the stolen base in 1962, Aparicio had made pilferage pay six years earlier. In his rookie year, Aparicio led the AL in stolen bases, handled more chances than any AL shortstop, and was named Rookie of the Year. Luis actually led the league in stolen bases his first nine years in the AL, once stole 26 consecutive bases, and was successful on 79% of his base-stealing attempts.
In truth, Luis was not a prototypical leadoff hitter. His on-base average was just .313. Part of his success was due to the bat-handling ability of second baseman and second place hitter, Nellie Fox. Luis respected Fox’ hitting ability so much, and what Fox did for his career, that he named his son after Nellie. When Nelson Fox won the MVP Award in 1959, Luis Aparicio was right behind him in second place in the voting.
Aparicio and Fox won more fielding titles together than any other double play combination, and no shortstop at the time ever led his league in the major defensive categories as often as Luis. He won nine Gold Gloves, was selected to the Sporting News All-Star team five times, and the All-Star fielding team ten times. Aparicio attributed his success to using a much heavier glove in infield practice to make his own glove feel lighter during the game. True pros in any profession have their own way of making themselves better than the rest; they obviously work hard at doing so, and Luis was no exception.
In January, 1963, the White Sox broke up the double play combo, trading Aparicio to the Baltimore Orioles. Aparicio provided some of the leadership that enabled the Orioles to win the 1966 AL pennant, and sweep the Dodgers in the World Series.
Luis began a second hitch with the White Sox in 1968, hit over .300 for the only time in his career in 1970, .313, and finished his career by playing three seasons for the Boston Red Sox, giving him 18 consecutive seasons in which he played 100 or more games. Aparicio was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1984.
Last Week’s Trivia
Who was the first college QB to pass for 10,000 career yards? A little guy with a great big heart, Doug Flutie at Boston College. He’s always been a winner and a exceptional leader, and still is to this day.
Trivia Question of the Week
Kurt Warner of the Rams fumbled six times in game 1 this season. What NFL quarterback holds the ominous record for most fumbles in one game? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.