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10 things that define Luis Aparicio's legacy

@goodforball
October 6, 2020

Luis Aparicio was a pioneer to some, a multi-talented performer to many and a winner to most. He established himself as the quintessential shortstop -- deft defensively, more than adequate offensively and consistently an asset throughout his 18 Major League seasons. Here’s a look at 10 moments or events that

Luis Aparicio was a pioneer to some, a multi-talented performer to many and a winner to most.

He established himself as the quintessential shortstop -- deft defensively, more than adequate offensively and consistently an asset throughout his 18 Major League seasons.

Here’s a look at 10 moments or events that distinguished Aparicio’s career.

1. Victory for Venezuela -- 1984
Aparicio unlocked the doors of Cooperstown for his countrymen, becoming the first Venezuelan to earn induction to the Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the shrine in his sixth year of eligibility while sporting impressive credentials, including nine Gold Glove Awards for defensive excellence and 13 All-Star Game selections.

Picking the all-time Venezuelan and Dominican teams

2. Making thievery an art -- 1956-64
Aparicio stole 506 bases, reaching a high of 57 in 1964. That was the last of nine years in a row in which he led the American League in thefts. He was so effective that, when he was on offense, a single and a subsequent stolen base became known as an “Aparicio double.”

3. Synonymous with shortstop -- 1956-73
Aparicio appeared in 2,583 games at shortstop, an all-time high until Omar Vizquel eclipsed the mark in 2018 as a member of the Giants. Aparicio’s father and one of his uncles shaped his diligence and durability, which showed as he played more than 150 games in eight seasons.

Aparicio vs. Vizquel: A HOF comparison

4. Put a ring on it -- 1959, '66
Aparicio missed out on a World Series title in 1959 as his “Go-Go” White Sox dropped the Fall Classic to the Dodgers in six games. But he proved to be an asset for the Baltimore Orioles, who acquired him in a six-player deal before the '63 season. In 1966, Aparicio amassed 182 hits, tying Triple Crown-winning teammate Frank Robinson for second in the AL, as Baltimore charged to the pennant. The Orioles proceeded to sweep the two-time defending champion Dodgers in four games to win a surprisingly one-sided World Series.

5. Homecoming, of sorts -- 1968
Aparicio returned to the White Sox in a five-player swap before the '68 season. Applying modern metrics to Aparicio’s defensive prowess demonstrated that he truly was a timeless performer. He led AL shortstops in Range Factor in 1968-69.

6. Proficient at the plate -- 1970
Though Aparicio was nearing the end of his career, nobody would have known it based on his offensive output this season. He ranked fourth in the AL with .313 batting average and scored 86 runs. This was good enough to earn Aparicio a 12th-place finish in the AL’s MVP balloting despite Chicago’s last-place finish.

7. When it all began -- 1956
Aparicio replaced fellow Venezuelan Chico Carrasquel as the White Sox shortstop for the 1956 season and impressed observers instantly. Aparicio finished with a .266 batting average, as well as an AL-high 21 stolen bases and 14 sacrifice bunts. This was enough to make Aparicio the first Venezuelan to be named Rookie of the Year.

Luis Aparicio (left) poses with Chico Carrasquel before the season opener in Chicago on April 17, 1956. AP

8. Durability defined -- 1956-71
Aparicio strung together 16 consecutive seasons with at least 500 plate appearances, reflecting his value to the lineup for each team that employed him. Remarkably, he never played any defensive position except shortstop.

9. Living legend -- 21st century
Aparicio joined a contingent of foreign-born stars to whom the 2001 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was dedicated. Alongside Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, Tony Perez and Ferguson Jenkins, Aparicio tossed one of the ceremonial first pitches.

10. Never forget -- 2005
Aparicio also drew first-pitch honors before Game 1 of the 2005 World Series -- the first Fall Classic involving the White Sox since he was their standout shortstop in 1959.

Chris Haft has covered the Major Leagues since 1991 and has worked for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @goodforball.