Mount Rushmore of White Sox third basemen: Robin Ventura
The race for a spot on the Chicago White Sox third base Mount Rushmore wasn’t a close one. Robin Ventura made it with ease. He combined a good bat with solid defense, earning five Gold Gloves in his 10 seasons in Chicago while being named an All-Star in 1992.
The White Sox took Ventura 10th overall in the 1988 draft after he had a legendary career at Oklahoma State University, setting a record that still stands with a 58-game hitting streak as a junior in 1987, a streak broken by future Chicago teammate Jack McDowell during the College World Series.
Ventura didn’t take long to get to the bigs. After 129 games and 563 plate appearances at Double-A Birmingham in 1989, Ventura debuted Sept. 12, 1989, and never went back to the minors save for rehab assignments.
Ventura made a comeback from a grotesque dislocated right ankle sustained in a slide into the plate in spring training in 1997, making his way back to the White Sox for the final couple of months of the season. He would need surgery on the ankle after his career ended to address atrophy in his leg muscles.
He became a free agent after the 1998 season and signed with the New York Mets. Ventura would later play for the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers before retiring after the 2004 campaign.
In parts of 10 seasons for the White Sox, Ventura hit .274 with an .805 OPS in 1,254 games and 5,310 plate appearances, belting 171 home runs with 741 RBI and 658 runs scored. He added a homer and five RBI in Chicago’s six-game loss to the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1993 ALCS.
With no previous coaching or managerial experience, Ventura returned to the White Sox in October 2011 as their manager, replacing interim skipper Don Cooper, who had replaced Ozzie Guillen.
In five seasons under Ventura, the Sox were 375-435 with just one winning season, an 85-77 mark in his debut season of 2012. He resigned after the club was 78-84 in 2016. In 2020, Ventura returned to Oklahoma State to complete his degree and was a student assistant with the baseball program.