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(CBS) The Chicago White Sox announced Thursday that former All-Star third baseman Robin Ventura has been named the team’s 38th manager.
“I realize that he wasn’t on anyone’s list and that we’ve caught many of you by surprise,” general manager Kenny Williams said. “I think it’s important to note that he’s been on our list for a long period of time. He’s been on my specific list for a long time.
Ventura, 44, was hired by the White Sox as a special advisor to director of player development Buddy Bell on June 6. He now becomes the 17th former White Sox player to manage the club.
“I don’t think it started out when I came back into the organization that this was what was going to happen,” Ventura said. “After what had gone down with Ozzie, that whole thing surprised me as much as anybody. I figured he’d be managing here for a long time.”
VIDEO: Robin Ventura beats the Rangers with a walk-off home run July 31, 1991
Ventura spent 16 seasons — 10 with the White Sox — with the White Sox, Mets, Yankees and Dodgers. In 2,079 career games, he hit .267 with 294 home runs and 1,182 RBI. His 18 career grand slams are tied for fifth in Major League history.
Though he has no previous managerial experience on any level, Ventura believes he and Williams can put the right pieces in place to succeed.
“I realize I haven’t managed, but I’m in a place where I’m going to have as much support as I could possibly have. Of any organization out there, this was going to be the one that was going to give me that support to grow and do the job.”
White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf raved about his new manager.
“Robin is one of the most popular and highly regarded players in this franchise’s history,” Reinsdorf said in a statement. “From the very first day he put on a White Sox uniform, it was apparent that Robin was a born leader. Those leadership skills were obvious to staff, players, media who covered him, and certainly to the fans of Chicago. We saw those skills again this summer as he visited and worked with our minor league players.
“You will not find a better teammate, leader and friend. His ability to motivate and lead others will be a terrific attribute as manager. I loved him as a player, from his baseball knowledge, to his professionalism, to how he went about his business in the clubhouse and on the diamond. Robin exudes class in everything he does.”
He received votes in the AL MVP balloting in 1991 and 1999. He’s a six-time Gold Glove Award winner and a two-time All Star.
The Santa Maria, Calif., native was selected by the White Sox with their first-round pick, 10th overall, in the 1988 draft out of Oklahoma State. He still holds the NCAA Division I record with a 58-game hitting streak.
“He’s one of the classiest individuals I’ve ever met in this games,” Williams said. “He’s a smart person that I believe is the man we need for this position at this particular time.”