Nobody saw this coming. Today the Chicago White Sox named Robin Ventura as their new manager, giving him a multi-year contract.
Ventura, who turned 44 last July, was hired by the team last June as a special advisor to Buddy Bell, the White Sox' director of player development. He is the 17th former White Sox player to manage the team. A press release from the White Sox quoted the former third baseman:
"When I rejoined the White Sox this June, I said this was my baseball home and that part of me never left the White Sox organization," Ventura said. "My family and I are thrilled to be returning to Chicago. Managing a Major League Baseball team is a tremendous honor. It’s also an opportunity and a challenge.
White Sox GM Kenny Williams said this about Ventura:
"When I met with the media as our season ended, I identified one person at the very top of my managerial list," said Ken Williams, White Sox general manager. "I wanted someone who met very specific criteria centered around his leadership abilities. Robin Ventura was that man. His baseball knowledge and expertise, his professionalism, his familiarity with the White Sox and Chicago and his outstanding character make him absolutely the right person to lead our clubhouse and this organization into the seasons ahead."
Ventura played 16 major-league seasons, hitting .267/.362/.444 with 294 home runs. Ten of those seasons were spent in a White Sox uniform, where he hit for almost exactly the same triple-slash: .274/.365/.440, with 171 home runs. A six-time Gold Glove winner, Ventura was a key piece the White Sox' 1993 division-winning team, and played in the World Series for the Mets in 2000. He was a first-round pick (10th overall) of the White Sox in the 1988 draft after setting a NCAA Division 1 record with a 58-game hitting streak; that record still stands.
Ventura has never managed or coached in professional baseball, and until today was probably most famous for getting beaten up by Nolan Ryan.