Luis Aparicio is a Hall of Famer and considered one of the greatest defensive shortstops in baseball history. None other than Ted Williams called him “the best shortstop I (Williams) have ever seen.” He spent the bulk of his eighteen-year career with the Chicago White Sox in the 1950s and 1960s before finishing his playing days with three final seasons with the Red Sox.
Having won the AL Rookie of the Year in 1956 and nine Gold Gloves between 1958 and 1970, as well as a World Series in 1966 with the Baltimore Orioles (for whom he played with for five seasons in the 1960s), it looked like the Red Sox were getting one of the great players in the game when they signed him after the 1970 season. Unfortunately, by the time he got to Boston his best days were well behind him.
Aparicio was on the Red Sox from 1971 to 1973 and while he wasn’t terrible, it was clear he was at the end of the line as far as his career was concerned. In his first year with the Red Sox in 1971, he went hitless in forty-four straight at-bats, one short of the major league record for non-pitchers, before he then hit of all things a grand slam to snap out of it (for perspective, he only hit 83 career homers).
He finished that season with a .232 average, the second-lowest of his entire career. He was better in 1972 (.252) and 1973 (.271), but is mostly remembered by Red Sox fans for a gaff he made that cost them a berth in the 1972 ALCS. Needing to win two of three against the Tigers to finish the season and win the AL East, in the first game of the series on October 2, 1972, Aparicio made a baserunning blunder that cost them the game.
On base late in the game, Aparicio was rounding third on what looked like a surefire triple from Carl Yastrzemski when he fell down and had to go back to third instead of scoring the run. Yaz realized this too late and tried to head back to second base, where he was tagged out. The Red Sox ended up losing that game and the next one and finished a half-game behind Detroit for the division (having played one fewer game than the Tigers thanks to an early season players strike).