Friday, September 17, 2010

Unpossible Autograph Friday-Chico Carrasquel

This is an autograph that remained just out of my grasp at the National Card Show; a dealer had it for sale, but it would have pushed me beyond my personal budget for the show. I tried to bargain with him but he wouldn't come down from his price, so I had to walk away. Luckily, I've recently had some success selling a few items on ebay, so I was able to flip my money back on this card with a dealer who was willing to bargain the price down to where I was comfortable with it. 

Chico was the third ever Venezuelan native to play in the Major Leagues, following the footsteps of his uncle, Alex Carrasquel, and a player named Chucho Ramos, who had a brief career with the Reds. Chico's nephew, Cris Colon, played briefly with the Rangers in 1992, so his family is truly a baseball dynasty.

While he wasn't the first player from Venezuela to play in the Majors, he was certainly his country's first star. Over his ten year career, he was a 4 time All-Star (and the first Latin player to be selected for that team), twice received MVP votes and came in third in the 1950 ROY balloting behind Walt Dropo and Whitey Ford. Chico started a long tradition of Venezuelan shortstops which still continues to this day; in fact the current O's SS, Cesar Izturis, is from Venezuela.

Chico is mostly known for the 6 seasons he spent with the White Sox from 1950-55 at the beginning of his career, but he also spent time with the Indians and the KC Athletics before he wrapped up his Major League career with the O's in 1959.

After his playing career ended he returned to Venezuela where he coached, and managed local teams before he turned to scouting for the Royals and Mets. He eventually returned to the U.S. to work in the White Sox' front office and work on their Spanish language radio broadcasts.  In 2002, a baseball stadium was named after him in his home country and he was a member of the inaugural 2003 class of the Venezuela Baseball Hall of Fame. In his later years, he also established The Chico Carrasquel Foundation to help the children of Venezuela through baseball.  He was 75 years old when he passed away in 2005 of cardiac arrest.

RIP Chico.

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