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Luis Ernesto Aparicio Montiel (born April 29, 1934) is a former shortstop in professional baseball. His career spanned three decades, from through . Aparicio played for the Chicago White Sox (1956–62, 1968–70), Baltimore Orioles (1963–67) and Boston Red Sox (1971–73). He batted and threw right-handed. He was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Famemarker in 1984.

Playing career

Born in Maracaibo, Zulia Statemarker, Venezuelamarker, Aparicio came from a baseball family. His father, Luis Sr., was a notable shortstop in Venezuela and owned a Winter League team with Aparicio's uncle, Ernesto. Aparicio spent six years (top for his career in Venezuela) with Tiburones de La Guaira in the Venezuelan Winter League.

Aparicio was heavily scouted by the Cleveland Indians, but Chicago White Sox GM Frank Lane, on the recommendation of fellow Venezuelanmarker shortstop Chico Carrasquel, signed Aparicio for $5,000 down and $5,000 in first year salary. He played well in the minors and then led the American League in stolen bases in his debut year of , winning both the Rookie of the Year and The Sporting News Rookie of the Year awards.

Over the next decade, Aparicio set the standard for the spray-hitting, slick-fielding, speedy shortstop. He led the AL in stolen bases in nine consecutive seasons (1956–64) and won the Gold Glove Award nine times (1958–62, 1964, 1966, 1970). He was also a ten-time All-Star (1958–64, 1970–72). Aparicio was a key player on the 1959 "Go-Go" White Sox that won the American League pennant that year, finishing second to team mate Nellie Fox in the Most Valuable Player Award balloting. The White Sox were generally successful during his tenure, but when he showed up overweight and had an off year in 1962, the White Sox dealt him to the Baltimore Orioles the following season.

Aparicio regained his form in Baltimore and was ninth in the Most Valuable Player Award balloting in 1966 when he helped the Orioles reach the World Series, which they won. He returned to the White Sox for the 1968 season after being traded for Don Buford and had his best overall offensive season in 1970, hitting .312 and scoring 86 runs. He put in three more seasons with the Boston Red Sox before retiring for good.

Aparicio batted a more than respectable .262 for his career but he also shares the distinction of tying the longest Major League hitless streak for non-pitchers in the last 50 years by going 0 for 44 with the Boston Red Sox in 1971. He batted a career low .232 that year. But even in his last year as an active player in he rebounded to hit .271 while still playing regularly at age 39. He had 13 consecutive seasons with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title and an on-base percentage less than .325, a MLB record. (His career OBP was slightly better than the shortstops' one during those years; .311 vs .309) A more impressive streak was his 16 straight seasons with more than 500 plate appearances, tied for fifth best in MLB history.

Baseball records

At his retirement, Aparicio was the all-time leader for most games played, assist and double plays by a shortstop and the all-time leader for putouts and total chances by an AL baseball shortstop. He tied the record of most seasons leading the league in fielding average by shortstops with 8, previously set by Everett Scott and Lou Boudreau. Shortstops By The Numbers, Baseball Digest, June 2005 His 2,583 games played at shortstop stood as the Major League record for that position from his retirement in 1973 until May 2008 when it was surpassed by Omar Vizquel. His 2,677 hits was also the major league record for players from Venezuela, until it was surpassed by Omar Vizquel on June 25, 2009. Amazingly, Aparicio never played any defensive position other than shortstop.

Baseball honors

Luis Aparicio was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in , the first native of Venezuelamarker so honored. Also in 1984, the White Sox retired his number 11. Aparicio was also inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame. In 1981, Lawrence Ritter and Donald Honig included him in their book The 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time. In 1999, The Sporting News did not include him on their list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, but Major League Baseball did list him as one of their 100 nominees for their All-Century Team.

Aparicio was inducted into the Venezuelan Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003. He was given the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Game One of the 2005 World Series, the first World Series game to be played in Chicago by the Chicago White Sox since the 1959 World Series, when Aparicio had been the starting shortstop for the Sox.

Since 2004, the Luis Aparicio Award is presented annually to honor the Venezuelan player who recorded the best individual performance in Major League Baseball, as voted on by sports journalists in Venezuela.

Landmarks bearing his family name

There is a stadium in Maracaibomarker, Venezuela, bearing his father's name. The full name of the stadium is Estadio Luis Aparicio El Grandemarker (Stadium Luis Aparicio the Great) in honor to Luis Aparicio Ortega. Also, the sports complex where the stadium is located is named Polideportivo Luis Aparicio Montiel. There are also several streets and avenues bearing his name throughout Venezuela.

In 2006, two bronze statues, one depicting him, the other depicting his teammate and fellow infielder Nellie Fox, were unveiled on the outfield councourse of U.S.marker Cellular Fieldmarker. Fox's statue depicts him flipping a baseball toward Aparicio, while Aparicio is depicted as preparing to receive the ball from Fox.

See also

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