Second stint in Chicago for Aparicio brings more honors
While he was at home in Venezuela after the 1967 season, Luis Aparicio got a phone call from White Sox general manager Ed Short.
After five years in Baltimore, Aparicio was coming back to the team that signed him as an amateur free agent out of Venezuela at age 19. He was part of a six-player trade between the Orioles and White Sox.
“Aparicio still has good range and by acquiring him the Sox have greatly improved their inner defense,” the Chicago Tribune wrote. “There is another thing that Sox fans will remember about Aparicio and that is his speed and daring on the bases.”
Aparicio began his career with the White Sox and played 244 games in the minors before making his major league debut in 1956. He quickly became the White Sox everyday shortstop and led the league in steals with 21. Aparicio played in 152 games and was named American League Rookie of the Year.
In seven seasons with the White Sox from 1956-1962, Aparicio led the league in steals every year as a member of the “Go Go Sox”. In 1959, he swiped 56 bases, won his second consecutive Gold Glove Award and finished second in AL MVP balloting as the White Sox won the American League pennant.
In January 1963, Aparicio was a part of a six-player deal that sent him and Al Smith to Baltimore in exchange for Hoyt Wilhelm and three other players.
“Some people say he has slowed down a step in the field, but he’s still a great shortstop and he should be great for several more years,” the Virginian-Pilot wrote as news of the trade to the Orioles broke. “His biggest weakness is balls hit right at him but with Aparicio and Brooks Robinson in the Oriole infield, it’ll take a shotgun to get a ball through the left side this season.”
Aparicio led the league in steals each of his first two years in Baltimore, including a career high 57 in 1964. He was a member of the 1966 World Series-winning team, and Aparicio finished ninth in the MVP vote with teammate Frank Robinson taking home the award.
On Nov. 29, 1967, at age 34 and with six Gold Glove Awards and 435 stolen bases under his belt, Aparicio was headed back to the Windy City. The Orioles also sent John Matias and Russ Snyder to the White Sox, receiving Don Buford, Bruce Howard and Roger Nelson in return.
Aparicio “was ‘very happy to know’ he would return to the Chicago White Sox,” UPI reported, and Short added that the White Sox “think Aparicio has three or four years left.”
Over the next three years, Aparicio proved he could still play at the highest level. In 1968, he played in 155 games and won his seventh Gold Glove Award while also receiving MVP votes. The next year, at age 35, Aparicio stole 24 bases – his 11th season with 20 or more steals and he tied a career high by playing in 156 games.
When he played his 2,219th game at shortstop on Sept. 25, 1970, Aparicio broke the major league record for most games played at short. Former White Sox shortstop Luke Appling was the previous record-holder.
Aparicio played the final three seasons of his career in Boston, picking up two more All-Star nods and receiving MVP votes in 1972.
Aparicio was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1984.
Arielle Gordon is the Digital Content Specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum