Robin Ventura proved himself to be a baseball lifer in so many applications at the term.
A power-hitting third baseman in his prime, Ventura — possibly best known for his Grand Slam Single— played 16 seasons and retired with impressive numbers. Ventura later managed the Chicago White Sox and helped developed some of the team’s top players into All-Stars.
Ventura has been out of Major League Baseball for the last few years, but he’s continuing his journey by turning the dial back to the 1980s.
Robin Ventura had a long MLB career
That Robin Ventura only made two All-Star Games in a 16-season career is fairly surprising.
Debuting in 1989 with the Chicago White Sox, Ventura hit .267 with 294 home runs, 1,182 RBIs, and 338 doubles for his career.
An excellent defender who won six Gold Glove Awards, Ventura showed impressive discipline at the plate, too. Across a full 162-game season, Ventura only struck out 92 times and drew 84 walks.
Ventura struggled mightily in the postseason, however. Despite being known for his Grand Slam Single, Ventura hit only .177 with three home runs and 19 RBIs in 37 career playoff games.
According to Baseball-Reference, Ventura totaled 56.1 Wins Above Replacement. Most of that WAR, 39.4, came in his 10 seasons with the White Sox from 1989-98.
Ventura managed the Chicago White Sox for five seasons
Robin Ventura played his final MLB game in 2004 as a 37-year-old third baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
A 1997 ankle injury limited Ventura’s effectiveness in his final years. Ventura had an ankle allograft in November 2005, a procedure which removed Ventura’s limp.
Ventura returned to the baseball spotlight in October 2011, when the Chicago White Sox hired him as their manager. Once the White Sox’s star third baseman, Ventura went 375-435 in five seasons with the White Sox and resigned following the 2016 season.
Although the record was spotty, Ventura did an excellent job developing some of the team’s top young players. Chris Sale became a Cy Young Award-winning ace with Ventura leading the White Sox.
First baseman and designated hitter Jose Abreu joined the White Sox from Cuba in 2014. Abreu immediately impressed and recently won the AL MVP Award.
Robin Ventura is headed back to school
Robin Ventura is channeling his inner Rodney Dangerfield at this point in his life.
Before he reached the majors, Ventura starred at Oklahoma State in the 1980s. Ventura never graduated, however, and left school without a degree.
Earlier this year, Ventura officially joined Oklahoma State’s baseball team as a coach. In a recent interview with the New York Post, Ventura explained how a loophole put him on a new journey in Stillwater, Okla.
“They said, ‘There is a way, but you’d have to be a student. The only spot open was student-coach because I didn’t graduate. I kind of fit the description even though I am 53 and most of the guys that do this are 21 or 23. I said, ‘Let’s do it. Let’s do it for a year and see what happens.’”
Ventura, who had a 58-game hitting streak at Oklahoma State in 1988, is pursuing a bachelor of arts degree.
Ventura added that the team’s current players call him “Thornton Melon,” Dangerfield’s character in Back to School, a 1986 movie with a similar presence.
Melon was a successful millionaire who never graduated from college. Ventura made over $67 million in the majors, and he never graduated college. It’s like poetry.