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‘Jungle Jim’ Rivera, member of 1959 ‘Go-Go White Sox,’ dies at 96

‘‘Jungle Jim’’ Rivera, an outfielder on the White Sox’ 1959 team that lost to the Dodgers in the World Series, died Monday in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He was 96.

Rivera played for the Sox from 1952 to 1961, batting .257 with 77 home runs, 382 RBI and 146 stolen bases in 1,010 games with them.

‘‘Jim was a key member of the ‘Go-Go White Sox’ teams of the 1950s, teaming with fellow outfielders Minnie Minoso, Jim Landis and others,’’ the White Sox said in a statement. ‘‘It was amazing to see the friendship and camaraderie among those men whenever they gathered together at a Sox game, even if it was decades after they last played together. We imagine they are having quite a clubhouse meeting today.’’

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In this May 6, 1953 photo, Manuel "Jungle Jim" Rivera, of the White Sox 1953, poses in a batting stance. | AP photo

Rivera got the nickname ‘‘Jungle Jim’’ from Sun-Times sportswriter Edgar Munzel for the way he swung his arms back and forth while leading off while on base.

‘‘I was head-firsting way before Pete Rose,’’ Rivera said. ‘‘Baseball was nothing but fun for me.’’

After retiring, he owned and operated the Captain’s Cabin Restaurant in Angola, Indiana, for 23 years.

‘‘Thank God I was able to play baseball,’’ Rivera told the Sun-Times in 2002. ‘‘Without it, I wouldn’t have been anything. I wouldn’t have even met [wife] Nancy. I first saw her in my restaurant and said, ‘There she is! That’s the one for me.’ I had to chase her for a year, but it was worth it. She’s the greatest.’’

Sun-Times staff