Luis Earnesto Montiel Aparicio was signed by the Chicago White Sox in 1955. And by the end of his first tenure there he would be known as one of the greatest shortstops in Major League history.
In 1956, “Little Luis” as he had come to be called, was adopted by the White Sox faithful and quickly became a fan favorite. That year he led the league in stolen bases and, largely due to his amazing play in the field, was named Rookie of the Year.
He followed up 1956 by leading the league in stolen bases for the next eight years. In four of those years he stole more than fifty bags: In 1959 (56), 1960 (51), 1961 (53), and 1964 (57).
Year after year he combined with his second baseman, the equally great Nellie Fox, to turn more double plays than any other combination in baseball. In the White Sox pennant winning year of 1959, Aparicio finished second for the major league Most Valuable Player award. The winner that year: Nellie Fox.
Although he never became known as anything more than a passable hitter (he finished with a career .262 batting average), at some point during his career with the Sox, a walk, followed by a stolen base became known as an “Aparicio double”.
Luis ended up playing 18 years in the major leagues, mostly with the White Sox but also with the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox. He won 23 different fielding titles in that span, including 9 Gold Gloves as the best defensive shortstop in the league.
He also played in 10 different All Star games, and was named the starting shortstop for the American League in 6 of those contests. In 1984 Luis Aparicio became the first native Venezuelan to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and fittingly, the White Sox retired his number 11 that same year.
At the time of his retirement Aparicio was the all-time leader in the following categories: games played, assists, and double plays by a major league shortstop. And putouts and total chances by an American League Shortstop.
In this day and age, when you’re able to watch so many games and follow so many players, it’s easy to forget about stars from the past. But not in Chitown. Here “Little Luis” will always have a place in baseball lore; As a Chicago sports hero.
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