In something of a surprise move, former Met Robin Ventura has been named manager of the Chicago White Sox.
Before signing with the Mets prior to the 1999 season, Ventura played 10 years with the Sox. He rejoined the team in the middle of the 2011 season as a special adviser to director of player development.
In a statement Ventura said:
“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. 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.
“I am excited to begin my career as a manager surrounded by former teammates, staff, media and White Sox fans I know very well. I already am looking forward to talking to our players, to this offseason and to getting things underway at spring training next February.”
His hiring came out of left field; there were reports the White Sox were interested in several other candidates. But in a statement of his own, general manager Ken Williams said Ventura was his man from the beginning:
“When I met with the media as our season ended, I identified one person at the very top of my managerial list. 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.”
There will always be a warm place in the heart of Mets fans for Ventura; he hit the most famous non-home run in Mets history — the so called “Grand Single” in the 15th inning to win Game 5 of the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves. Todd Pratt lifted him up (above) preventing Ventura from rounding the bases and getting credit for a grand slam.