06/01/2002 2:55 pm ET
Vizquel shares Gold Glove day with countrymen
Aparicio, Concepcion make pregame appearance
By Justice B. Hill / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- The three men are kindred souls, even if they might not be athletes from the same era.
But it's easy to see the thread that ties Omar Vizquel to Dave Concepcion and Luis Aparicio. They are all shortstops whom the baseball fields of South America had groomed for distinguished careers in the Majors.
On this sunny Saturday afternoon at Jacobs Field, these three Venezuelans stood side by side for an honor that each one had achieved at least a handful of times in his playing days -- the accepting of a Gold Glove Award.
It was Vizquel's turn this time as his retired countrymen flew in for the occasion. It was Vizquel's ninth Gold Glove, tying him with Aparicio for the most ever by an American League shortstop.
"One of the best days in my career has got to be today, because I didn't know they'd bring the three guys together," said Vizquel, smiling broadly throughout the pregame presentation.
He spoke fondly of his admiration for the 53-year-old Concepcion, his childhood idol, and his appreciation of the 68-year-old Aparicio's legacy, which was built decades before Vizquel was born.
"From Luis, I couldn't pick up too many things because I didn't have the chance to watch him play," Vizquel said as cameras and fans focused on the occasion. "I did see some videos, and he reminded me a little bit of myself.
"He's got the same kind of body structure that I do -- quickness on both sides of the field."
From Concepcion, Vizquel learned some of the finer points of playing the game well, though he was not afraid to say that Concepcion's game fit the big-shortstop era of today better than his does.
"He's kind of like the Derek Jeter-type, with long arms, long legs," Vizquel said. "I couldn't do the things he could do around shortstop."
He hasn't had to, because Vizquel has carved a reputation with his glove that is the equal to anybody else who ever played the position. This year the Indians star seems on his way to Gold Glove No. 10 as well as to a 2002 season with a little more pop in his bat than in the past.
"He's batting .300 with six home runs," said Concepcion, whom Vizquel first met as a 10-year-old. "I'd better check his bat. Maybe it's corked."
Justice B. Hill is a senior writer with MLB.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.