Chico Carrasquel

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File:Chico Carrasquel 52 T-4C5D5.jpg
Chico Carrasquel - Topps baseball card - 1952 Series, #251

Alfonso Carrasquel Colón (January 23, 1928May 26, 2005), best known as Chico Carrasquel, was a shortstop in Major League Baseball. Carrasquel was born in Caracas, Venezuela. He batted and threw right-handed.

Carrasquel, the first in a great line of Latin American Chicago White Sox shortstops, was also the first Latin-American All-Star in major league history.

"El Chico" became the third Venezuelan to play in the majors after right-handed pitcher Alex Carrasquel (Washington Senators, in 1939) and first baseman/outfielder Chucho Ramos (Cincinnati Reds, in 1944). His major league career began with the White Sox, where he played from 1950 through 1955.

In 1951, Carrasquel became the first Latin American player to be selected to participate in an All-Star Game, beating out reigning MVP Phil Rizzuto as the American League's starting shortstop. Carrasquel also would go on to be selected to the All-Star team in three consecutive seasons from 1953-55.

File:001-VE-MLB-Chico CervCCS.jpg
Chico: The early years

In 1946, as a six-foot, 193-pound 17-year-old Cervecería Caracas shortstop, Carrasquel hit the first home run batted in the 'Venezuelan Winter Baseball League's history. He was signed in 1949 by the Brooklyn Dodgers, but his inability to speak English 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 journeyman pitcher Alex Carrasquel (Chico's uncle) for reliever Witto Aloma, who served as the interpreter between Chico and manager Paul Richards.

File:001-VE-MLB-Chico White Sox.jpg
Chico with the White Sox

Replacing Luke Appling in 1950, Carrasquel soon established himself as a top shortstop, and made an excellent double play combination with second baseman Nellie Fox. 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.

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

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 future Hall of Famer, and fellow Venezuelan, Luis Aparicio, Jr.

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 with 55 home runs and 474 RBI in 1325 games. A patient hitter, he posted a solid 1.052 walk-to-strikeout ratio (491-to-467).

Chico 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 Diaz; 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 Chico Carrasquel Stadium. Until 2002, he worked as a Community Relations Representative for the Chicago White Sox.

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

See also

External links

es:Chico Carrasquel