Oquendo with the St. Louis Cardinals
|St. Louis Cardinals – No. 11|
|Outfielder / Infielder / Coach|
July 4, 1963 |
Río Piedras, Puerto Rico
|May 2, 1983, for the New York Mets|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 29, 1995, for the St. Louis Cardinals|
|Runs batted in||254|
|Career highlights and awards|
José Manuel Roberto Guillermo Oquendo Contreras (born July 4, 1963) is a former Major League Baseball infielder and the current third base coach for the St. Louis Cardinals. He is currently the longest tenured third base coach in Major League Baseball. He also served as manager of the team representing Puerto Rico in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classic.
New York Mets
Oquendo was born in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, and 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
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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
The Sklar Brothers and the "Utility Man"
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. Despite rumors to the contrary, no plaque bearing his name was placed in the utility closet of the Hall of Fame.
- List of St. Louis Cardinals coaches
- List of players from Puerto Rico in Major League Baseball
- List of Puerto Ricans
- "World Baseball Classic: Puerto Rico". Retrieved 2009-05-14.
- "Philadelphia Phillies 15, St. Louis Cardinals 5". 1987-08-07. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
- "Atlanta Braves 7, St. Louis Cardinals 5". 1988-05-14. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
- "Error Records by Second Basemen". Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- "Manager & coaches". Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- Goold, Derrick (February 11, 2014). "Oquendo gets Carpenter, infielders up to speed". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors), or The Ultimate Mets Database
|St. Louis Cardinals bench coach
|St. Louis Cardinals third base coach