Todd Cruz

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Todd Cruz
Todd Cruz.JPG
Todd Cruz in 2008
Infielder
Born: (1955-11-23)November 23, 1955
Highland Park, Michigan
Died: September 2, 2008(2008-09-02) (aged 52)
Bullhead City, Arizona
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 4, 1978 for the Philadelphia Phillies
Last MLB appearance
September 30, 1984 for the Baltimore Orioles
Career statistics
Batting average .220
Home runs 34
Runs batted in 154
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Todd Ruben Cruz (November 23, 1955 – September 2, 2008) was an American Major League Baseball (MLB) player who spent all or part of six seasons in the majors with the Philadelphia Phillies, Kansas City Royals, California Angels, Chicago White Sox, Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles, from 1978 to 1984. He was primarily an infielder.

Bounced around the majors[edit]

He was born in Highland Park, Michigan in Metro Detroit and was raised in Mexicantown in Detroit. He attended Western High School in Detroit.[1] He was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies out of Western High School in the second round (26th overall) of the MLB amateur entry draft in June, 1973, immediately signing a contract later that month. He finally made his major league debut five years later, playing only three September games with the Phillies . With Larry Bowa established as the everyday shortstop, Cruz was traded to the Royals for Doug Bird on April 3, 1979, three days before the start of a new season.

The Royals, with a glut of outfielders, a need for a starting first baseman and having decided on U.L. Washington as its regular shortstop, dealt Cruz, along with Al Cowens and right-handed pitcher Craig Eaton, to the Angels for Willie Aikens and Rance Mulliniks on December 6, 1979. A midseason swap for right-handed pitcher Randy Scarbery on June 12, 1980 sent Cruz to the White Sox, where he became the starting shortstop. Unfortunately, a back injury sidelined him for the entire 1981 season.[2]

The White Sox's search for a reliable batter capable of hitting for average resulted in him being shipped along with Jim Essian and Rod Allen to the Mariners for Tom Paciorek on December 11, 1981. The 1982 campaign was Cruz's most productive offensively as he established career highs with 57 runs batted in (RBI), 44 runs scored, 113 hits and 16 home runs. He was supplanted as the regular shortstop by rookie Spike Owen during the following year.

Success with the Orioles[edit]

In his first game after the Orioles purchased his contract on June 30, 1983, he drove in six runs with a three-run homer and a bases-loaded double, leading the Birds to a victory in the city where he grew up. His biggest contribution was on defense. Manager Joe Altobelli explained Cruz's importance to the ballclub:

Shortstop Cal Ripken, Jr. praised him even further:

Cruz, along with teammates at the bottom of the batting order Rick Dempsey and Rich Dauer, were famously nicknamed "The Three Stooges." Cruz was "Curly" while Dempsey and Dauer were "Moe" and "Larry" respectively.[3] After winning the American League Pennant three games to one over a former team of Cruz's, the White Sox, the Orioles captured the 1983 World Series Championship in five games over his original ballclub, the Phillies.

His MLB career came to an end on March 29, 1985 when he was released by the Orioles in spring training. Orioles teammate Gary Roenicke said of Cruz's two seasons in Baltimore, "Even though he'd played for many other teams, he always thought of himself as an Oriole. He had an outgoing personality ... and he kept everybody loose."[4]

Death[edit]

Cruz died on September 2, 2008 at age 52 while swimming in the pool at the apartment complex where he lived in Bullhead City, Arizona. The efforts of bystanders and responding paramedics to revive the former major league ballplayer were unsuccessful. The cause of death was heart attack.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kantowski, Ron. "Pro ballplayer's story ends humbly in desert town." Associated Press at San Diego Union-Tribune. September 27, 2008. Retrieved on January 15, 2013.
  2. ^ Neft, David S., Cohen, Richard M. & Neft, Michael L. The Sports Encyclopedia: Baseball. 20th edition. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2000.
  3. ^ Fimrite, Ron. "He was Moe Than Philly Could Handle," Sports Illustrated, October 24, 1983.
  4. ^ "Cruz, of Orioles' 1983 championship team, dies in swimming accident". ESPN.com. Retrieved 4 June 2013. 
  5. ^ Klingaman, Mike. "Ex-Orioles infielder Todd Cruz dead at 52," The Baltimore Sun, Friday, September 5, 2008.

External links[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Loverro, Thom. Oriole Magic: The O's of '83. Chicago: Triumph Books, 2004.
  • Walker, Childs. "First Impressions," The Baltimore Sun, September 10, 2008.