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Omar Vizquel Sits, Waiting to Reach Milestones
by Asher B. Chancey, BaseballEvolution.com
April 8, 2010
Omar Vizquel has joined the Chicago White Sox for the 2010 season. The White Sox are his fifth team in 22 seasons (but third in the last three), and he will be wearing a White Sox uniform as he reaches some pretty major milestones.
First, having debuted with the Seattle Mariners in 1989, when Vizquel next appears in a game he will become a member of the Four Decade Club (former 1989 Mariners teammate Ken Griffey, Jr., joined the club earlier this week). I am not sure if any shortstop has ever joined the club before, but Vizquel’s second milestone would indicate not: with his first appearance at shortstop, Vizquel will extend his major-league record by playing at least one game at the position in 22 different seasons.
Finally, Omar Vizquel’s next hit will put him in a tie for second all-time on the career list for hits by a shortstop, tying former White Sox shortstop, and fellow Venezuelan, Luis Aparicio. And this is where it starts to get fun.
Vizquel has reached the point in his career where his future induction into the Hall of Fame is all but certain. In addition to his longevity records, Vizquel has to be considered the elite defensive shortstop of his era, the successor to Ozzie Smith and perhaps the predecessor to Elvis Andrus. However, after a career wearing the number 13, Vizquel had to switch numbers in 2010 because number 13 was already taken. Instead, Vizquel will spend the 2010 season wearing the number 11 in homage to Aparicio, who wore that number with the White Sox and subsequently had the number retired by the White Sox in 1984. Vizquel has been said to be wearing Aparicio’s number, taken out of retirement, with Aparicio’s blessing, as Aparicio and Vizquel are apparently quite close.
This raises a couple of questions, right? First of all, why did Vizquel have to switch numbers in the first place? Second, it’s Thursday of the first week of the season, and the White Sox have already played two games – why hasn’t Vizquel gotten into one of them yet?
The answer to both of those questions is another former White Sox shortstop that is currently in charge of the team, Ozzie Guillen. Guillen, who is also from Venezuela, wears the number 13 and has since his playing days. But unlike Aparicio, who is in the Hall of Fame, and Vizquel, who will be one day, Guillen is not now and will not one day be in the Hall of Fame, and Guillen has also not had his number retired by his former team. And, Guillen was never considered the best defensive shortstop in baseball in his day - indeed, Guillen won his only Gold Glove in 1990, and Vizquel one his first of nine Gold Gloves in 1993.
And so here we are, on Thursday of the first week of the season, and a future Hall of Famer who needs to play in just one game to reach three different milestones sits on the White Sox bench wearing a number he’s never worn before.
I dare you to say this doesn’t sound like the type of thing Ozzie Guillen is capable of.
Questions? Concerns? Comments? Asher lives in Philadelphia, PA, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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