A Touch of Oro: Venezuela’s Gold Glove History

I always thought the Gold Glove was a really cool award, because it rewards defensive excellence; the dudes that really play the field.

Now, maybe in years past players who had better offensive numbers than their peers got the nod, and maybe guys who used Rawling gloves, the official sponsor, got preferential treatment, and maybe some guys just got grandfathered in year after year because the coaches and managers got a bit lazy in their exercise of baseball democracy (see Rafael Palmeiro, 1999). I’ve heard all those stories and still, I think the Gold Glove is a great thing.

Now the sabermetricians have gotten involved and added a lot of number-crunching to the process. I find that all a bit boring, but there may be some validity to the numbers they present, especially if factored in as only part of the equation (25%).

My last post congratulated Salvador Perez of Valencia for winning his second straight Gold Glove, but since they’ve been giving out the award in 1958, Venezuelans have won it 41 times, at every position but third base (maybe next year, Mr. Sandoval).

Of course, the shortstops rule the roost, with Zulia’s own Luis Aparicio winning 9 guantes de oro in his 18-year career, including five in a row from 1959-62 with the White Sox. Omar Vizquel played in four decades and won 11 Gold Gloves, eventually surpassing Little Louie in every defensive category, so much so that the White Sox “unretired” #11 for him in his one season there (Ozzie Guillen refused to give up #13 to Omar). David Ismael Concepcion, of Ocumare de la Costa,  ruled the mid-seventies, inventing the bounce throw to first base on Riverfront Stadium’s astroturf and winning five Gold Gloves.

Other multiple winners include “The Big Cat,” former Magallanes and National League star first baseman Andres Gallaraga, who captured it twice with Montreal; Manny Trillo, (born in Caripoto on Christmas Day, 1950) who won it three times in Philadelphia; and Carlos Gonzalez, who’s been honored three times in recent seasons for his outstanding outfield play for the Rockies.

We learn as we research; Vic Davalillo, who won the award in the year of my birth for the Cleveland Indians, was a true legend in his homeland in the Winter League (mostly for Caracas) and is the all-time hit leader for the LVBP. The league’s MVP trophy is named for him, too, and he didn’t retire  until age 50.

Ladies and gentlemen, your honor roll:

Shortstop

  1. Luis Aparicio  9  (1958-62, CWX; 1964, 1966, BAL; 1968, 1970, CWX)
  2. Omar Vizquel 11 (1993, SEA: 1994-2001, Cleveland; 2005-06, SF Giants)
  3. David Concepcion 5 (1974-77, 1979; Cincinnati)
  4. Cesar Izturis  (2004, Los Angeles Dodgers)

Outfield

  1. Vic Davalillo  (1964, Cleveland)
  2. Franklin “Death to Flying Things” Guitierrez (2010, Seattle)
  3. Carlos Gonzalez 3  (2010, 2012-13, Colorado)
  4. Gerardo Parra 2  (2011, 2013 Arizona)

First Base

Andres Gallaraga (1989-90, Montreal)

Second Base

Manny “Indio” Trillo 3  (1979, 81-82, Philadelphia)

Pitcher

Johan Santana, (2007,Minnesota)

Catcher

Salvador Perez 2 (2013-14, Kansas City)

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About vzbaseball

Writer, Musician, Baseball Fanatic. Lonely Planet, Fodor's, scouring the nation and globe for stories. Big fish, small pond.
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