José Oquendo

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José Oquendo
Joseoquendocards2013.jpg
St. Louis Cardinals
Infielder, Coach
Born: (1963-07-04) July 4, 1963 (age 51)
Río Piedras, Puerto Rico
Batted: Switch Threw: Right
MLB debut
May 2, 1983 for the New York Mets
Last MLB appearance
September 29, 1995 for the St. Louis Cardinals
Career statistics
Batting average .256
Hits 821
Runs batted in 254
Teams

As Player

As Manager

Career highlights and awards
This name uses Spanish naming customs; the first or paternal family name is Oquendo and the second or maternal family name is Contreras.

José Manuel Roberto Guillermo Oquendo Contreras (born July 4, 1963 in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico) is a former Major League Baseball infielder and the current third base coach for the St. Louis Cardinals. He also served as manager of the team representing Puerto Rico in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classic.[1]

New York Mets[edit]

Oquendo signed with the New York Mets as an amateur free agent in 1979 at only fifteen years old. When he made his major league debut with the Mets in 1983, he became the first player in franchise history to be younger than the franchise (the Mets began play in 1962; Oquendo was born in 1963). After two seasons bouncing back and forth between the Mets and their triple A affiliate the Tidewater Tides, Oquendo was traded with Mark J. Davis to the St. Louis Cardinals for Ángel Salazar and John Young.

St. Louis Cardinals[edit]

Oquendo spent all of 1985 with the Cardinals' triple A affiliate the Louisville Redbirds. With the Mets, Oquendo had only ever played shortstop; with perennial All-star Ozzie Smith firmly entrenched there, the Cards experimented with Oquendo at other positions when they brought him up for the 1986 season. Along with short, Oquendo played second base, third and in the outfield.

In 1987, Oquendo played every position, except catcher, and was nicknamed "The Secret Weapon" by manager Whitey Herzog. His one emergency appearance on the mound came on August 7. Already down 12–4 to the Philadelphia Phillies, Oquendo pitched the eighth inning and gave up three earned runs.[2] Oquendo reached the post season for the only time in his career in 1987. He batted .222, including a three run home run in the second inning of the seventh game of the 1987 National League Championship Series against the San Francisco Giants.

In 1988, Oquendo became one of only a handful of players to have played every position on the diamond when he made his debut behind the plate. He also took the mound again, this time it was in a nineteen inning marathon against the Atlanta Braves on May 14. After pitching three scoreless innings, Oquendo was tagged for a two run double by Ken Griffey in the nineteenth, and took the loss.[3]

With Luis Alicea back in the minors in 1989, Oquendo emerged as the Cardinals' regular second baseman. He responded by committing only five errors in 851 chances and a .994 fielding percentage. He also enjoyed his best season with the bat, batting .291, and was in the top ten in hits, triples, walks and on-base percentage. He also played in a league leading 163 games that season.

His best season with the glove was the following season, when he set a major league record for the fewest errors (three) by a second baseman in a 150+ game season.[4] However, perennial Gold Glover and future Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg won the Gold Glove Award that year.

In the first game of the 1992 season, Oquendo suffered a hamstring injury that sidelined him for most of the season. Oquendo spent three more seasons with the Cardinals as a utility infielder. He retired after failing to make the Cardinal roster out of spring training in 1996.

Career stats[edit]

Games PA AB Runs Hits 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB HBP SO Avg. OBP Fld%
1190 3737 3202 339 821 104 24 14 254 35 33 448 5 376 .256 .346 .983

Oquendo was 0–1 with a 12.00 earned run average over six innings in three games pitched. His career fielding percentage as a second baseman was .992.

Coaching[edit]

José Oquendo 2009.jpg

Oquendo accepted a minor league coaching position with the Cardinals in 1997, and became manager of the New Jersey Cardinals of the New York–Penn League in 1998. He became bench coach for St. Louis in 1999, and a year later, he moved to third base coach, where he has remained ever since.[5]

Oquendo was thrown out of a game against the Philadelphia Phillies on June 13, 2008 for arguing. Earlier in the game, already a blowout loss for the Cardinals, Cardinals pitcher Russ Springer threw an inside pitch that grazed the hip of Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard. Springer was thrown out without warning, which caused Cardinals manager Tony La Russa to argue with umpire Larry Vanover. La Russa was subsequently thrown out of the game, and bench coach Joe Petini assumed the role of manager. Later in the game, Phillies pitcher Rudy Seánez threw a pitch that went behind Cardinals batter Brendan Ryan and was not ejected or warned. Oquendo began arguing from his position in the coaching box behind third and was tossed by Vanover.

On April 4, 2009, Oquendo appeared as a Cardinals pinch hitter in a preseason exhibition game against the Cardinals' triple A affiliate, the Memphis Redbirds. Oquendo fouled off several pitches before being walked. He was advanced to 3rd base on a hit and walk before an inning ending groundout.

Over the past few years Oquendo has interviewed for managerial positions with San Diego, Seattle, and the New York Mets. Also during the 2011 offseason he was interviewed for the managing position with the Cardinals. The spot would later go to Mike Matheny.

On August 17, 2012, Oquendo was again ejected from a game for arguing balls and strikes. After a called strike to Jon Jay from Pittsburgh Pirates starter James McDonald, Oquendo came down the third base line arguing with home plate umpire Lance Barrett. He was immediately ejected from the game. Manager Mike Matheny came out to try to prevent further argument while Oquendo kicked dirt across the plate.

Oquendo developed "speed-feed" drills for the infielders. Besides lobbing the standard ground balls, Oquendo had third basemen Matt Carpenter and catching prospect Carson Kelly standing foul territory about three paces away, bowling baseballs at a rapid pace until they grew tired and increased their endurance in and improved footwork and positioning.[6]

The Sklar Brothers and the "Utility Man"[edit]

Main article: Cheap Seats

In 2004, a comical one hour special aired on ESPN and was produced by MLB Productions about José Oquendo. It featured Randy and Jason Sklar of Cheap Seats going on a trip all the way to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on a campaign to get José "The Utilityman" Oquendo inducted for his versatility to play any position on the baseball field. The special included the Sklars receiving Oquendo's blessing to lobby for his spot in Cooperstown, collecting signatures for the petition, and giving a lackluster presentation to the Hall of Fame's committee. After initially denying their claim, the committee agreed to place his plaque in a spot that fits his utility specialty- the utility closet.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "World Baseball Classic: Puerto Rico". Retrieved 2009-05-14. 
  2. ^ "Philadelphia Phillies 15, St. Louis Cardinals 5". Retrieved 1987-08-07. 
  3. ^ "Atlanta Braves 7, St. Louis Cardinals 5". Retrieved 1988-05-14. 
  4. ^ "Error Records by Second Basemen". Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  5. ^ "Manager & coaches". Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  6. ^ Goold, Derrick (February 11, 2014). "Oquendo gets Carpenter, infielders up to speed". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved February 11, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Carney Lansford
St. Louis Cardinals bench coach
1999
Succeeded by
Joe Pettini
Preceded by
??
St. Louis Cardinals third base coach
2000–present
Succeeded by
Incumbent