White Sox unretire Luis Aparicio's No. 11 for Vizquel

Published: 2/8/2010 10:56 AM | Updated: 2/8/2010 4:42 PM

Shortly after signing a one-year contract with the White Sox in late November, Omar Vizquel called manager Ozzie Guillen.

"I think the first thing Ozzie said was, 'You can forget about 13, that's my number,'" Vizquel said.

Since breaking into major-league baseball in 1989 with the Seattle Mariners, the 42-year-old Vizquel has worn No. 13 on his back.

Vizquel had a feeling that would change when he joined the Sox.

"Look at what Ozzie Guillen has done with the White Sox," Vizquel said. "Winning the (World Series) championship and all the years he played for them, No. 13 already has a name there."

Vizquel might not be getting his first choice in uniform numbers with the Sox, but the 11-time Gold Glove winner is going to be wearing No. 11 with similar pride this season.

The White Sox retired No. 11 in 1984 out of respect to another standout shortstop and native Venezuelan - Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio.

When Vizquel crossed paths with Aparicio in Maracaibo this winter, he asked about "unretiring" No. 11 for the upcoming season.

"I got up the courage to ask him and he thought about it for awhile," Vizquel said. "He said it would be nice. He said it would be great if there was somebody to wear that number again. 'I would love for you to do it.'"

Like Guillen, Vizquel grew up in Venezuela idolizing Cincinnati Reds shortstop Davey Concepcion, who wore No. 13.

Vizquel wasn't as familiar with Aparicio, who played 10 seasons with the White Sox and retired in 1973. Aparicio is still the only player from Venezuela in the Hall of Fame.

But after talking to his father and doing research on his fellow countryman, Vizquel realized how special Aparicio was as a player.

"This is a tremendous honor for me to wear No. 11 in honor of Mr. Luis Aparicio," Vizquel said. "I'm trying to keep his name alive and spread the word about No. 11."

Aparicio is equally as pleased.

"If there is one player who I would like to see wear my uniform number with the White Sox, it is Omar Vizquel," the 75-year-old Aparicio said in a statement. "I have known Omar for a long time. Along with being an outstanding player, he is a good and decent man."

This is the second time the White Sox have unretired a uniform number.

They did it in 1996, when Harold Baines returned to the roster, and again in 2000, when Baines came back for the third and final time.

Baines' uniform No. 3 was originally retired in 1989.