Monday, September 27, 2010

Luis Aparicio - Rookie Season - 1956

I wish that I could say that my Luis Aparicio collection begins with his 1956 Topps #292 Rookie Card. But I have not been able to add that card to my collection as yet. I do have a 1997 reprint of the rookie card that is a certified autograph issue, which is shown below.
I did have some 1956 baseball cards when I collected back in Delphi, but I do not remember having one of Aparicio. That may be because I really did not get interested in the White Sox and Little Looie until 1958.

Aparicio's debut came on April 17, 1956. He put together a very impressive rookie season for the White Sox. He appeared in 152 games while collecting 147 hits, scoring 69 runs and putting up a .266 batting average. As a preview of what was to come, Aparicio led the league with 21 stolen bases. Aparicio won the Rookie of the Year Award easily beating out both Rocky Colavito and Tito Francona.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My First Major League Ballgame – July 13, 1962

Thanks to , I have been able to track the date and box score of the very first major league game that I attended. I talked a little about my early baseball hero, Luis Aparicio, in an previous post. When I was fourteen, my parents took me to a White Sox game in Chicago. Luis Aparicio was playing in his last season with the White Sox. In January 1963, Aparicio and Al Smith were traded to the Baltimore Orioles for Ron Hansen, Dave Nicholson, Pete Ward and Hoyt Wilhelm.

However, On July 13, 1962, my dad, my mother and myself were among 21, 191 people who saw the White Sox beat the Detroit Tigers by a score of 4 to 1. Ray Herbert pitched a complete game allowing only three hits.

Aparicio batted seventh for the White Sox, but was quiet for most of the game. In the bottom of the first, with two runners on base, Luis grounded into a force out at 2nd to end the inning. In the bottom of the third, Luis popped out to the second baseman for the 2nd out of the inning. In the bottom of the sixth, Aparicio led off the inning by flying out to the left fielder.

By the time Little Louie came to bat with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, I was getting concerned about two things. First, Aparicio had not given me anything to cheer about offensively. He had only a ground out and two flyouts so far.

The second thing that I had hoped would happen was a home run so that I could see the scoreboard fireworks show. Bill Veeck had created the famous Monster Scoreboard in 1960. Whenever a White Sox player hit a homer they would be greeted by the lighted pinwheels and fireworks display. However, other than Nellie Fox, Luis Aparicio was probably the least likely position player to light up the “exploding scoreboard”. The monster scoreboard operated until the 1990 season.

With the White Sox leading, Louie could well be the last batter for the White Sox. Aparicio took care of both of my concerns with one swing. He hit a two run homer to left field. I am sure that somehow he knew that I was in attendance and hit that home run just for me so my first ball game would be one to remember for ever.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Growing Up In Delphi, Indiana

My early years were spent in Delphi, Indiana. Delphi is located in west central Indiana near Lafayette. Along with my friends, Dave Issacs, David Cunningham and Steve Hutton, a good part of the summer was spent participating in baseball related activities. We typically either played actual baseball games or used our baseball cards and our imagination to play games.

From 1957 through 1959, we all collected baseball cards, although Steve had by far the most extensive collection. Most of my baseball cards were purchased at Ollie Limp’s Hilltop Grocery Store. I recently found this picture of Ollie in Carroll County Historical Society files. Back in 1959, you could get a pack of cards for a penny.

Cards were sorted by team and our favorite players were saved for baseball games using the Ed-U-Card game. We bought the Ed-U-Card decks at the dime store downtown, probably for less than a dollar. These vintage games go for quite a bit more on EBay today. We usually double and triple decked the Ed-U-Cards so that we could play full games without reshuffling. We would keep score of the games and log player stats in a notebook.

I recall that most of us did not really like the Yankees and in particular the 1957 and 1958, Mickey Mantle cards were not considered very valuable. It sure would be nice to have a few of those Mantle cards today.
My favorite team during this time period was the White Sox and my favorite player was Luis Aparicio. I think I liked Aparicio because he played the best position on a baseball team, shortstop. He was a sparkplug for the White Sox with his speed and defense.

When we could find enough players, we would play games in the “Big Lot”. The “Big Lot” was a full sized empty lot located between my house and Cunningham’s house. We played baseball and football on this lot. At one time David Cunningham’s dad owned a Crosley which he let my brother drive in circles on the “Big Lot”. If you are not familiar with the Crosley automobile, it was a quirkly little vehicle that was the brainchild of Powell Crosley of Cincinnati, Ohio. Crosley also owned the Crosley Broadcasting Corporation and for a time the Cincinnati Reds. The Crosley could get up to 50 mpg and were built in Richmond, Indiana up till 1942. After WWII, production resumed in a factory in Marion, Indiana. The last Crosleys rolled off the assembley line in 1950. Bob Cunningham bought two Crosleys and used the parts to make one of them operational. The picture shows some Crosleys. The second body sat in our back yard as a outdoor toy. Years later, a house was built on this lot.

My family moved from Delphi to Kokomo in the summer of 1959. I continued to follow the White Sox and Aparicio until the mid-sixties when I switched to the Red Sox……..but that is a story for another time.

I will show some of the Aparicio cards that are in my current collection and talk about thefirst Major League baseball game that I attended to see my "hero" play ball in another post.