To say Ventura was a surprise hire would be an understatement. Possible candidates such as Dave Martinez, Sandy Alomar Jr., Ryne Sandberg, Terry Francona, Tony La Russa and Joe McEwing were tossed about, analyzed and then favorites were broken down, as the White Sox sought a replacment for Ozzie Guillen, who parted ways with the team last month.
That surprise was reserved for everyone outside of the organization. For general manager Ken Williams, as he looked at the long list of Guillen replacements on the left side of his ledger, only two or three names made their way on to the right side as finalists. Ventura held the main focus of those remaining three, with the offer presented by Williams and Bell last week.
"It's important to note he's been on my specific list for a long time," Williams said during a conference call on Thursday. "I started interviewing Robin from 1994-98 [when he was a player], but he just didn't know it.
"Those follow-up interviews and conversations happened in years that followed. He's one of the classiest people in this game, a very smart person and the man we need for this position at this time."
There was a specific list of criteria used by Williams in finalizing this process. Those requirements included having a passion for the city and the organization and a drive to win another World Series championship, as well as possessing the leadership and communicative ability that will translate into working with young players who are still trying to find themselves and veteran players trying to rediscover their old form.
"I don't know [what Williams saw in me]," Ventura said Tuesday. "It's being part of the family that's the White Sox and being in the organization this last year. I haven't talked through it, it's one of those that I feel confident that they're making a good decision, too. I don't know exactly what that is but hopefully sometime he tells me."
Ventura will be the 17th former player to manage the club. Ventura was the 10th pick overall by the White Sox in the first round of the 1988 First-Year Player Draft, and the third baseman spent 16 Major League seasons with the White Sox (1989-98), New York Mets (1999-2001), New York Yankees (2002-03) and Los Angeles Dodgers (2003-04), playing for a managerial list that included Jeff Torborg, Bobby Valentine and Joe Torre, while winning six Gold Gloves and becoming a two-time All-Star.
Of his 2,079 career games, during which he posted a .267 average with 294 homers and 1,182 RBIs, as well as 18 grand slams, Ventura played in 1,254 games over 10 seasons for the White Sox.