Aparicio, Robinson took the big leagues by storm in 1956
No one knew it yet – but baseball welcomed two future Hall of Famers to the big leagues on the same day in 1956.
They wasted no time establishing themselves as rising stars.
On Opening Day in 1956, Luis Aparicio made his big league debut for the Chicago White Sox, while about 300 miles away at Crosley Field, Frank Robinson debuted for the Cincinnati Reds.
A little less than eight months later, on Dec. 1, 1956, Aparicio was named the American League Rookie of the Year, while Robinson took the NL honor unanimously.
Hall of Fame Membership
There is no simpler, and more essential, way to demonstrate your support than to sign on as a Museum Member.
Be A Part of Something Greater
There are a few ways our supporters stay involved, from membership and mission support to golf and donor experiences. The greatest moments in baseball history can’t be preserved without your help. Join us today.
Robinson’s launch onto the scene was a surprise to many. The 20-year-old wasn’t even on Cincinnati’s roster going into Spring Training, but by Opening Day, he had solidified his spot as the club’s starting left fielder.
He quickly caught fire upon arriving in the big leagues, earning a chance to start the All-Star Game and helping to keep the Reds in contention for the NL pennant through the season’s final week.
“I saw no difference in this big league pitching than the minor (leagues),” Robinson told the Cincinnati Enquirer after making his debut on April 17.
“It was the sort of confidence, not a regrettable boast, that made the listener believe Robinson will be around a long time,” Enquirer sportswriter Bill Ford wrote that same day.
Robinson finished his rookie season with a .290 batting average and 83 RBI. His 38 homers that season also tied the rookie record at the time, which was set by Wally Berger in 1930.
Aparicio’s arrival, meanwhile, had been anticipated for some time.
After the White Sox traded Chico Carrasquel to the Indians in exchange for Larry Doby in October 1955, it was clear that Aparicio was a shoo-in to take over as Chicago’s starting shortstop.
Despite a slow start to the season, the 22-year-old infielder exceeded expectations in the long run, posting a .266 average and leading all shortstops in total chances (759), assists (474) and putouts (250).
Aparicio received 22 of the 24 first-place votes for AL Rookie of the Year, while Rocky Colavito and Tito Francona each garnered one vote.
It’s not uncommon for Rookie of the Year winners to struggle in subsequent seasons – but Aparicio and Robinson kept up their first-year pace well into the 1970s.
Aparicio finished his 18-year career with a .262 batting average, 2,677 hits, 506 stolen bases and 13 All-Star selections. Robinson closed out his 21-year playing career with a .294 average, 586 homers, 2,943 hits and 14 All-Star selections.
Robinson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982, while Aparicio joined him in Cooperstown in 1984.
And not only were both bound for success in their careers, but Aparicio and Robinson both broke down significant barriers in the process, as well. In 1975, Robinson became the first Black full-time manager of an AL or NL club. When Aparicio was inducted in 1984, he became the first Venezuela native to earn enshrinement in Cooperstown.
Janey Murray was the digital content specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum