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Chico Carrasquel

Topps baseball card - 1952 Series, #251. Courtesy of Vintage Card Traders.
Shortstop
Born: January 23, 1928(1928-01-23)
Caracas, Venezuela
Died: May 26, 2005 (aged 77)
Caracas, Venezuela
Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
April 18, 1950 for the Chicago White Sox
Last MLB appearance
September 23, 1963 for the Baltimore Orioles
Career statistics
Batting average     .258
Runs scored      568
Home runs        55
Runs batted in      474
On-base percentage     .333
Games played     1325
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Alfonso Carrasquel Colón (January 23, 1928 – May 26, 2005) was a Venezuelan shortstop in Major League Baseball. Listed at 6' 0", 190 lb., Carrasquel batted and threw right-handed. He was born in Caracas. His uncle Alex Carrasquel and his nephew Cris Colón also played in the majors.

The first in a great line of Venezuelan shortstops, Carrasquel was also the first Hispanic American All-Star in Major League history.[1] El Chico became the third Venezuelan to play in the majors after right-handed pitcher Alex Carrasquel (Washington Senators, 1939) and 1B/OF Chucho Ramos (Cincinnati Reds, in 1944). His major league career began with the Chicago White Sox, where he played from 1950 through 1955.

In 1951, Carrasquel became the first Hispanic American player to be selected to participate in an All-Star Game, beating out reigning American League MVP Phil Rizzuto as the AL starting shortstop.[2] Carrasquel also would go on to be selected to the All-Star team in three consecutive seasons from 1953 to 1955.

In 1946, while playing for the Cervecería Caracas club as a 17-year-old shortstop, Carrasquel hit the first home run in Venezuelan Professional Baseball League history. He was signed in 1949 by the Brooklyn Dodgers, and immediately was promoted to Double-A Fort Worth Cats.[3] But his inability to speak English fluently may have caused Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey to sell him to the White Sox. Then, Sox' GM Frank Lane solved the language communication problem by trading Chico's uncle Alex for reliever Witto Aloma, who served as the interpreter between Chico and Sox' manager Paul Richards.[4]

Replacing legendary Luke Appling in 1950, Carrasquel soon established himself as a top shortstop, making an excellent double play combination with second baseman Nellie Fox.[5] As a rookie, Carrasquel hit for a career-high .282 batting average in 141 games and amassed a 24-game hitting streak until Red Sox pitcher Ellis Kinder stopped the streak.[6] He finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year Award, behind teammate Walt Dropo and New York Yankees pitcher Whitey Ford, and also was considered in the MVP balott.[7]

In 1951, Carrasquel broke an American League record by accepting 297 chances without an error in 53 games played. His most productive season came in 1954, when he posted career-highs in home runs (12), RBI (62), hits (158), runs (106), extrabases (43) and walks (85), while hitting a .255 average.

Before the 1956 season, Carrasquel was sent to the Cleveland Indians along with Jim Busby for Larry Doby. The trade was made to make room for fellow Venezuelan and future Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio.

After two and a half seasons with the Indians, Carrasquel played for the Kansas City Athletics in 1958, and finished his major league career with the Baltimore Orioles in 1959.

In a 10-season career, Carrasquel was a .258 hiitter (1199-for-4644) with 55 home runs and 474 RBI in 1325 games, including 568 runs, 172 doubles, 25 triples, 31 stolen bases, and a .333 on-base percentage. A disciplined hitter, he posted a solid 1.052 walk-to-strikeout ratio (491-to-467).

Beside this, Carrasquel collected three five-hit games against American League opponents, the Athletics (1955[8]), Orioles (1956[9]) and Boston Red Sox (1958[10]). He also hit a grand slam with a career-high seven RBI against the Athletics (1956[11]), and slams against the Red Sox (twice, in 1953[12] and 1957[13]) and White Sox (1957[14]).

Following his majors career Carrasquel played for the 1960 Montreal Royals of the International League[15], and later played, coached and managed in his native Venezuela entering the 1990s. He also guided the Venezuelan baseball team to the 1982 Caribbean Series championship title.

Carrasquel is a national legend in his native Venezuela. He was the most important and influential figure for many countrymen that have played Major League Baseball, including shortstops Aparicio, Dave Concepción, Ozzie Guillén, Omar Vizquel and César Izturis; outfielders Vic Davalillo, Tony Armas, Magglio Ordóñez and Bobby Abreu; the versatile utility César Tovar; second baseman Manny Trillo; catcher Bo Díaz; first baseman Andrés Galarraga, and many more.

The Venezuelan Baseball League belatedly honored its native son in 1991, when the Puerto La Cruz baseball park was renamed Estadio Alfonso Chico Carrasquel.[16] Until 2002, he worked as a Community Relations Representative for the White Sox.

Slowed by the effects of diabetes, Carrasquel slowly walked to the U.S. Cellular Field mound to join fellow Venezuelan shortstops Ozzie Guillén, Luis Aparicio and Dave Concepción in throwing out the first ball at the 2004 home opener. It was, he said, my proudest moment.[17]

Chico Carrasquel died in Caracas, Venezuela at the age of 77 due to a cardiac/respiratory arrest.

Chronology highlights

See also

Sources








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