Aside from being inducted into the Hall of Fame, there’s probably no greater individual honor a ballplayer can attain than to have his uniform number retired.
The White Sox have retired eight numbers: 2 (Nellie Fox), 3 (Harold Baines), 4 (Luke Appling), 9 (Minnie Minoso), 11 (Luis Aparicio), 16 (Ted Lyons), 19 (Billy Pierce) and 72 (Carlton Fisk). Additionally, Jackie Robinson‘s 42 has been retired throughout all of baseball.
As of today one of these numbers, Aparicio’s No. 11, is coming out of retirement and will be worn by Looie’s fellow Venezuelan shortstop Omar Vizquel (pictured above with Aparicio when Omar was acquired by the Sox during the offseason). Interestingly, this was set in motion when Vizquel couldn’t get his familiar 13 because it’s currently being worn by yet another shortstop from Venezuela–his boss, Ozzie Guillen.
“I feel privileged to have the opportunity to wear the same uniform with the White Sox as the great Luis Aparicio,” said Vizquel, who is wearing the number as a tribute to the Hall of Famer. “It is a great honor for me.”
Aparicio commented that “if there is one player who I would like to see wear my uniform number with the White Sox, it is Omar Vizquel. I have known Omar for a long time. Along with being an outstanding player, he is a good and decent man.”
I know a lot of purists will scoff at this decision, but to me this tribute is just as meaningful as having the number retired forever. In theory unretiring a number isn’t something I would condone, but this is a unique circumstance. It represents the time-honored baseball tradition of connecting generations and in this case provides the opportunity to honor part of the proud history of outstanding Venezuelan shortstops who have worn a Sox uniform–Chico Carrasquel, Aparicio, Guillen and now Vizquel. It’s a nice touch.