Omar Vizquel

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Omar Vizquel
Omar Vizquel on April 26, 2012.jpg
Vizquel with the Toronto Blue Jays
Detroit Tigers – No. 31
Shortstop/Coach
Born: (1967-04-24) April 24, 1967 (age 47)
Caracas, Venezuela
Batted: Switch Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 3, 1989 for the Seattle Mariners
Last MLB appearance
October 3, 2012 for the Toronto Blue Jays
Career statistics
Batting average .272
Hits 2,877
Home runs 80
Runs batted in 951
Teams

As a player

As a coach

Career highlights and awards
This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Vizquel and the second or maternal family name is González.

Omar Enrique Vizquel González (Spanish pronunciation: [oˈmar βisˈkel]; born April 24, 1967), nicknamed "Little O", is a Venezuelan former Major League Baseball infielder. Vizquel played for the Seattle Mariners (1989–1993), Cleveland Indians (1994–2004), San Francisco Giants (2005–2008), Texas Rangers (2009) Chicago White Sox (2010–2011), and Toronto Blue Jays (2012). In Venezuela he played for Leones del Caracas. He is the Detroit Tigers' first-base, infield and baserunning coach for the 2014 Major League Baseball season.

Vizquel is considered one of baseball's all-time best fielding shortstops, winning nine consecutive Gold Gloves (1993–2001) and two more in 2005 and 2006. He tied Cal Ripken, Jr.'s American League record, since surpassed, for most consecutive games at shortstop without an error (95, between September 26, 1999 and July 21, 2000).[1] Currently, his .985 career fielding percentage is the highest of all-time for a shortstop in Major League history. On May 25, 2008, Vizquel became the all-time leader in games played at shortstop, passing Luis Aparicio but the record was broken by Derek Jeter on July 18th, 2014. Vizquel is the all-time leader in double plays made while playing shortstop. He has the most hits recorded by any player from Venezuela (2,877; 40th all-time), surpassing Aparicio's record of 2,677 on June 25, 2009. On May 24, 2010, Vizquel became the shortstop with the third most hits all time, behind second place Derek Jeter and Honus Wagner. Vizquel is the sacrifice hit leader of the live-ball era.

At the time of his retirement, Vizquel was the oldest player in the Major Leagues, and the only active player with service time in the 1980s. He is one of only 29 players in baseball history to play in Major League games in four decades. On May 7, 2012, Vizquel became the oldest player to play at shortstop in the Major League history, surpassing Bobby Wallace, who played 12 games with the St. Louis Cardinals at the age of 44 in 1918.[2]

Career[edit]

Seattle Mariners[edit]

Vizquel started his career with the Leones del Caracas of the Venezuelan Winter League together with Tony Armas, Bo Díaz and Andrés Galarraga. Originally signed by the Mariners as a non-drafted free agent in 1984, Vizquel made his Major League debut on April 3, 1989.

Cleveland Indians[edit]

At the end of the 1993 season, Vizquel was traded by the Mariners to the Indians for Félix Fermín, Reggie Jefferson, and cash. The specialized sports press, such as Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News and Baseball Digest, and sports observers, including writers Dom Forker, Cliff Eastham, Wayne Stewart, Michael Pellowski and others, have recognized Vizquel and second baseman Roberto Alomar as one of the top all-time defensive duos in the history of baseball.

During Vizquel's career in Cleveland, the Indians made it to the World Series twice, losing to the Atlanta Braves in 1995 and to the Florida Marlins in 1997. Vizquel is a lifetime .250 hitter in 57 postseason games.

Vizquel won nine consecutive Gold Gloves with the Mariners and Indians, starting with his first in 1993 with Seattle and continuing until 2001. Alex Rodriguez broke Vizquel's streak and won the award in 2002. Vizquel won two additional Gold Gloves in 2005 and 2006 with the San Francisco Giants.

In 1999, Vizquel hit over .300 and scored 100 runs for the first time in his career, finishing the season with a .333 batting average and 112 runs scored for an Indians team that scored a league-leading 1,009 runs. Vizquel hit second in the line-up between lead-off man Kenny Lofton and third-place hitter Alomar in the most productive offensive line-up in Cleveland baseball history. This line-up also included power hitters Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez.

On August 5, 2001, Vizquel hit a three-run triple in the ninth inning against the Seattle Mariners to tie the game 14–14, capping a comeback from a 14–2 deficit. The Indians went on to win 15–14 in eleven innings, tying the record for the largest comeback win in history. Vizquel reached career highs in 2002 hitting 14 homers and 72 RBI, but his success was interrupted by the need for surgery on his right knee. He tied the 2002 All-Star Game 7–7 with an RBI triple in the eighth inning. As a result of his knee injury in 2002 and a follow-up operation, he appeared in only 64 games in 2003. In a game on May 27, 2003, Vizquel had a straight steal of home against the Detroit Tigers. He caught Tigers pitcher Steve Avery by surprise and made it home without a throw. Vizquel returned in 2004 to hit .291 in 148 games. At the end of the season, Vizquel was signed by the Giants as a free agent.

Vizquel with the San Francisco Giants in 2008.

San Francisco Giants[edit]

On June 23, 2007 the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame inducted Vizquel, along with former Giants outfielder Matty Alou, into its Hall of Fame during an on-field, pre-game ceremony.

Vizquel underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on February 27, 2008. He started the 2008 season on the disabled list and played in his first game on May 10. Vizquel stole home for the second time in his career against Oakland Athletics pitcher Greg Smith on June 13.

Vizquel won the Hutch Award and the Willie Mac Award, and was a finalist for the Heart & Hustle Award. Only two other players, Dave Dravecky and Craig Biggio, have won more than one of these awards, although Willie McCovey himself won the Hutch Award before having the Willie Mac Award named for him.

Texas Rangers[edit]

On January 21, 2009, Vizquel signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers[3] and made the team's major league roster. He served mainly as a backup middle infielder.

Chicago White Sox[edit]

On November 23, 2009, Vizquel agreed to a one-year contract with the Chicago White Sox worth $1.4 million.[4] After making the deal official, former shortstop and White Sox legend Luis Aparicio asked that his number 11 be temporarily "unretired" for Vizquel during the 2010 season,[5] mostly due to the fact that White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen — like Vizquel and Aparicio, a Venezuelan shortstop — had rights to #13, the number Vizquel has worn through his career.

On May 25, 2010, Vizquel became the shortstop with the second most hits all time, behind Derek Jeter. On June 25, he hit his first home run of 2010, putting him on the short list of players who have hit home runs in four different decades (with Ted Williams, Willie McCovey, and Rickey Henderson). On November 2, 2010, Vizquel signed a one-year deal to remain in Chicago.[6] On April 3, 2011, Vizquel got a single for his 2,800th career hit. Despite being well into his forties, Vizquel is still regarded as one of the better defensive shortstops in the game and seen by his former White Sox teammates as one of the most physically fit.[7]

Toronto Blue Jays[edit]

Vizquel signed a 1 year minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays for the 2012 season. He made the team out of spring training, and made his first appearance on Opening Day, against his former club, the Cleveland Indians. His first start came on April 22, against the Kansas City Royals. Vizquel was ejected from a game against the Texas Rangers on May 1, arguing with the home plate umpire from the bench. Vizquel jokingly danced to mock the umpire before exiting the dugout.[8] Vizquel hinted at retirement upon the conclusion of the 2012 season. Despite being 45 years of age and appearing in only five games at that point in the season with the Blue Jays, he stated "I feel excited about coming to the ballpark. Maybe not every day, because there are going to be some days you're going to be sore. But I still feel I want to be here. I want to compete."[9]

In a game against the Detroit Tigers on July 27, Vizquel hit his first two extra-base hits of the season, a double and triple. Vizquel became the third oldest player to hit a triple (behind Julio Franco and Nick Altrock) and became the oldest player in major league history to hit a double and a triple in the same game.[10]

In the first game of a day-night doubleheader against the New York Yankees on September 19, Vizquel recorded his 2,874th career hit, passing Babe Ruth for 41st all-time.[11]

In the final game of the 2012 season, Brett Lawrie wore a #17 jersey as opposed to his usual #13. This allowed Vizquel to wear #13 (the number he wore through most of his career) when he played his final game on October 3, 2012. Vizquel went 1 for 3, hitting a single in his last at bat, the 2,877th hit of his career moving him ahead of Mel Ott for 40th position on the all-time hits list. Vizquel retired after the season and was the last position player born in the 1960s, as well as the last to play in the 1980s, to retire.

Coaching[edit]

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim[edit]

On January 30, 2013, Vizquel was hired by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to become a co-infield coach with Bobby Knoop, to replace Dick Schofield, whose contract was not renewed for 2013.[12]

Detroit Tigers[edit]

On November 18, 2013, the Detroit Tigers named Vizquel as their new first-base coach, replacing Rafael Belliard. Under first-year manager Brad Ausmus, Vizquel also serves as the Tigers infield and baserunning instructor.[13]

Personal[edit]

Vizquel during his tenure with the Indians in 1996.

Vizquel is active in community service, having served as an honorary spokesperson for "Young Audiences", an arts education organization in Cleveland, and "Schools Now", which raises funds through the sale of entertainment booklets. Following the 1999 Vargas mudslide disaster that killed 25,000 in his native Venezuela, Vizquel volunteered for the relief effort and helped raise over $500,000 for the cause.[14] Vizquel has held various charitable events in downtown Cleveland such as Tribe Jam, where he and some other teammates get together with each other or with retired singers and sing some of their favorite songs.

His 2002 autobiography, Omar!: My Life on and Off the Field, which he co-wrote with Bob Dyer,[15] spent four weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List. It was released in paperback in 2003.

Vizquel is referenced in an episode of The Simpsons entitled "Bart's Friend Falls in Love" (May 1992). In the episode, Bart takes a distracted Milhouse's Carl Yastrzemski baseball card in exchange for one of Vizquel with the head cut out.[16]

Vizquel is married to Nicole.[17] The couple has a son, Nicholas Enrique "Nico",[17] and an adopted daughter, Caylee Rae.[18]

Feud with José Mesa[edit]

A long-running and well-publicized feud erupted between Vizquel and former teammate and friend José Mesa. In 2002, following the publication of his autobiography, Omar! My Life On and Off the Field, Vizquel criticized Mesa's performance in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series:

"The eyes of the world were focused on every move we made. Unfortunately, Jose's own eyes were vacant. Completely empty. Nobody home. You could almost see right through him. Not long after I looked into his vacant eyes, he blew the save and the Marlins tied the game."

[19] Mesa reacted furiously, pledging to hit Vizquel upon every subsequent opportunity:

"Even my little boy told me to get him. If I face him 10 more times, I'll hit him 10 times. I want to kill him."

On June 12, 2002, Mesa hit Vizquel with a pitch in the ninth inning. Mesa was not ejected and finished the game.[20] They did not face each other again until 2006; by then, Vizquel was with the San Francisco Giants and Mesa was playing for the Colorado Rockies. When Vizquel came to bat against Mesa in Denver on April 22, Mesa hit him again. Meeting three more times in 2006, however, Vizquel escaped being hit by his former teammate, with two groundouts and an RBI single. Vizquel batted .333 (7-for-21) against Mesa before Mesa's retirement in 2007.[21]

Baseball records and accomplishments[edit]

Defense[edit]

  • All-time leader in double plays made while playing shortstop
  • 11-time Gold Glove recipient
  • Oldest shortstop recipient of the Gold Glove (age 38 in 2005, and again at age 39 in 2006)
  • Highest career fielding percentage by a shortstop (0.9846) with at least 1,000 games played
  • Lowest number of errors in a season by a shortstop (tie) (3 in the 2000 season)
  • 6th in assists all-time, 3rd in assists at SS all-time

Offense[edit]

  • All-time leader in hits by a player from Venezuela[22]
  • The 47th major league player to reach 2,800 career hits (April 3, 2011)
  • At retirement was the second-most hits by an active (roster) player behind Derek Jeter, was the category leader for the 2008 and a portion of the 2009 seasons, 47th all-time
  • At retirement had the most singles by an active (roster) player, 20th all-time
  • At retirement had the most at-bats by an active (roster) player, 19th all-time
  • Fifth all-time in sacrifice hits plus sacrifice flies behind Eddie Collins, Jake Daubert, Stuffy McInnis and Willie Keeler
  • All-time leader in sacrifice hits in the live-ball era, and four-time league leader (1997, 1999, 2004 & 2005)
  • Likely 5th to 7th all-time in sacrifice hits after accounting for the 1954 statistical change (40th all-time without adjustment)
  • At retirement, had the second-most sacrifice flies by an active (roster) player behind Alex Rodriguez, 50th all-time (tie)
  • At retirement had the third most stolen bases by an active (roster) player behind Juan Pierre and Carl Crawford, 68th all-time
  • American League record holder (tie) for most hits in a nine-inning game: Vizquel hit six on August 31, 2004
  • Second-most hits while playing shortstop (behind Derek Jeter)
  • Fourth-most runs while playing shortstop all-time (behind Herman Long, Derek Jeter and Bill Dahlen)
  • Seventh-most stolen bases while playing shortstop all-time (behind Bert Campaneris, Ozzie Smith, Herman Long, Luis Aparicio, Honus Wagner, and Bill Dahlen)
  • At retirement had most seasons by active player as a batting title qualifier with isolated power (extra bases per at-bat) under .100, with 12
  • 40th all-time in career hits (2,877)

Overall[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

Sources[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Cooperstown Bound? - Omar Vizquel". Washingtontimes.com. June 11, 2008. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Vizquel sets mark as oldest to play shortstop". Toronto.bluejays.mlb.com. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Vizquel signs with Rangers". Texas.rangers.mlb.com. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ Scott Merkin (February 8, 2010). "Vizquel to wear Aparicio's No. 11". MLB.com. Retrieved February 8, 2010. 
  6. ^ Scott Merkin (November 2, 2010). "Vizquel returning to White Sox on one-year deal". MLB.com. Retrieved November 7, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Omar Vizquel has had a magical career - ESPN". Espn.go.com. September 24, 2011. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Blue Jays INF Omar Vizquel ejected for arguing balls and strikes from dugout". Washington Post. Associated Press. May 2, 2012. Retrieved May 5, 2012. 
  9. ^ Morosi, John Paul (May 2, 2012). "Omar Vizquel pondering retirement". Fox Sports.com. Retrieved May 5, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Vizquel: A Double, a Triple, and a First". ESPN.com. July 28, 2012. Retrieved July 28, 2012. 
  11. ^ Toman, Chris (September 19, 2012). "Hit No. 2,874 moves Vizquel past Ruth". MLB.com. Retrieved September 19, 2012. 
  12. ^ Gonzalez, Alden (January 30, 2013). "Angels hire Vizquel as infield instructor". MLB.com. Retrieved January 30, 2013. 
  13. ^ Omar Vizquel to be Part of Tigers' Coaching Staff MLB.com, November 18, 2013
  14. ^ "Venezuelan Baseball Legend Omar Vizquel Set to Retire « Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the U.S". Venezuela-us.org. June 28, 2012. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  15. ^ by. "BARNES & NOBLE | Omar!: My Life On and Off the Field by Omar Vizquel, Gray & Company, Publishers | Hardcover". Barnesandnoble.com. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Here's the drill - Chicago Tribune". Articles.chicagotribune.com. November 23, 2009. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  17. ^ a b "Omar! by Omar Vizquel and Bob Dyer | Sample". Grayco.com. October 26, 1997. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  18. ^ Mccauleythe, Janie (February 18, 2008). "Giants' battle for second could last entire spring - Sports". Modbee.com. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  19. ^ "ESPN.com: MLB - Vizquel-Mesa feud hits a high point". Static.espn.go.com. July 16, 2003. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  20. ^ Stapleton, Arnie (April 24, 2006). "Rocky contest marred by plenty of ejections". Deseret News. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  21. ^ "Omar Vizquel Batting Against Jose Mesa - Baseball-Reference PI". Baseball-reference.com. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  22. ^ "Vizquel becomes Venezuelean Hits King". Mlb.mlb.com. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 

External links[edit]