Luis Aparicio is the first Venezuelan-born player to be elected to the the Baseball Hall of Fame. Click here to see a video from fellow shortstop and countryman Omar Vizquel speaking about Aparicio, Dave Concepcion, and himself and what they mean to their homeland.
The American League stolen base leader for each of his first nine years, Aparicio hit the ground running soon after his big league debut. Little Louie was also an all star in seven of his first nine seasons and ten overall.
The nine-time Gold Glover and 1966 World Series champ with the Orioles finished his 18-year playing career with 2,677 hits and 506 stolen bases.
In the collection is this contract from before his big league debut. The deal is for an item purchased by thousands of fans. For years souvenir stands at MLB stadiums offered baseballs with stamped signatures of the home team. This contract, signed by Aparicio, is for the shortstop to have his autograph appear on those balls.
The terms of the contract? Aparicio received one cent per ball sold. Interestingly Aparicio signed the contract on March 1, 1956 but would not debut in the big leagues until nearly a month later on April 17, 1957.
After a career that spanned from 1956 to 1973, Aparicio found a home in Cooperstown. His Hall of Fame plaque reads, “Regular shortstop for all of his 18 seasons. Set career records for most games played (2,581), chances accepted (12,564), and double plays (1,553), by a shortstop, and has the most A.L. putouts (4,548). Led A.L. in fielding 8 times. Topped league in steals his first 9 seasons, beginning stolen base renaissance. A.L. Rookie of the Year in 1956.”