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Aparicio pays visit to Guillen

Aparicio pays visit to Guillen

CHICAGO -- White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was doing his usual pregame mingling with the press before Game 1 of the World Series when all of a sudden his fast rambling stopped midsentence and Guillen's face broke into a huge smile.

The reason for Guillen's sudden lack of words was that the Sox skipper had just spotted Sox legend Luis Aparicio.

Guillen rushed over to Aparicio, a fellow Venezuelan, and hugged the man that has long been one of his mentors and greatest friends. The two shared a brief conversation in Spanish while cameras captured the emotional moment.

Aparicio, a member of the 1959 Go-Go Sox, was on hand Saturday to throw out the ceremonial first pitch with Guillen behind the plate for the historic moment.

"I think I'm the first manager to catch a first pitch in the opening game of the World Series," Guillen said with a laugh.

Though Guillen inserted his usual humor about the first pitch, he wasn't shy about the emotions that he was feeling in having one of his fellow Venezuelan legends beside him on one of the biggest days in Sox history.

"Having him here today, he was also here for Opening Day in my first year, it's a real special day for me and my country," Guillen said. "He's one of the reasons why I played the game. I played all my life because of him."

Known as one of the best players to come out of Venezuela, Aparicio's name is also synonymous with the White Sox. Aparicio spent 10 seasons with Chicago, earning numerous awards during that span, including Rookie of the Year honors in 1956 and seven Gold Gloves at shortstop.

Being in Chicago for the first World Series since the one he participated in as a player in 1959, Aparicio felt the excitement around the city, but more than anything understood the excitement that Guillen has generated for the fans from Venezuela.

"All the people are crazy about it in Venezuela," Aparicio said. "Just yesterday I was reading the paper about the fans and they will be so happy. I think Ozzie is doing a tremendous job."

It may have been an honor for Guillen to hear such accolades from Aparicio, but the White Sox manager was really taken aback when he was presented with an honor in Aparicio's name.

During Guillen's pregame press conference, White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and Aparicio presented the White Sox manager with a Luis Aparicio Award from the people of Venezuela to honor Guillen's accomplishments in managing the White Sox.

"There's a lot of trophies that have been sitting in my house in the past, Gold Glove and Rookie of the Year, a lot of different things," Guillen said. "But to me -- having this for my country and in Luis' name and getting it when I'm still alive is an honor."

Hearing his name in the same breath as Aparicio's was something that meant a lot to Guillen, but the skipper still feels that he pales in comparison to the legend of Aparicio in their native country.

"I think he's the best player ever to come from my country," Guillen said. "Just to know him is an honor."

Kelly Thesier is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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