Sox pay tribute to '59 World Series squad
Aparicio among five players in attendance for ceremony
CHICAGO -- Luis Aparicio spent 10 of his 18 seasons wearing a White Sox uniform, and he hasn't suited up on the South Side of Chicago since 1970.
Yet, there's no question where the allegiances fall for the only member of Baseball's Hall of Fame from Venezuela.
Aparicio is a member of the White Sox organization forever.
"Always. All my life," said Aparicio, holding a rare interview session with the media Thursday afternoon, on the day when members of the 1959 squad were honored on the 50th anniversary of their World Series appearance against the Dodgers.
"This organization was the one that gave me the opportunity to play in this country," Aparicio said. "So, I'm very happy. It's just like home."
Five members from the "Go-Go Sox" were in attendance at Thursday's series finale against the Dodgers, with Jim Landis, Jim Rivera, Billy Pierce and Jim McAnany joining their shortstop. This exciting group of players arguably was the most famous in White Sox history, until, of course, the 2005 squad won 11 of 12 postseason games to claim the franchise's first World Series title in almost 90 years.
Receiving Thursday's honor was another nice moment for these prominent contributors from five decades ago. But for the members of the 1959 team, it was almost as if time stood still.
"I feel like I remember when I first came here in 1952 and we won the pennant in 1959," Rivera said. "It hasn't changed. The fans are still the same. I just hope that this team here will recover and win the pennant again."
"One thing I remember, and honest to God, win or lose, I know every darn one of those guys on the field busted their tail," Landis said. "We played hard every day."
Landis added that the 1959 team won 35 one-run games, a true sign of a playoff contender.
"It might be 3-2, 2-1, but we won them," said Landis, whose son, Craig, represents White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen talked about the recognition once again afforded to these one-time greats being well-deserved, but his focus quickly turned to his countryman. Guillen smiled and said he might get in trouble for the following statement, but then classified Aparicio as soon-to-be the second-best shortstop from Venezuela when Omar Vizquel goes into the Hall of Fame.
Regardless of the analysis, Guillen termed it an honor to know Aparicio and have one of eight players to have his jersey retired by the White Sox in attendance.
"Luis represents Latin America so well, and I feel proud he's a Venezuelan," Guillen said. "I wish Luis would get involved with the organization a little bit more. He doesn't have to come here every day, but I think Chicago people would like to see him more often. It's funny because I've been here for 20 years and people are still asking about Luis. They worry about Luis. I get letters asking about him."
"Thank God for giving me the opportunity to sign with this organization," said Aparicio, who had his jersey No. 11 retired in 1984. "You can see it in the fans. It's a great town for baseball -- on this side."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.