November 24, 1962 |
|August 20, 1987, for the New York Yankees|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 29, 2002, for the Oakland Athletics|
|Runs batted in||445|
|Career highlights and awards|
Randy Lee Velarde (born November 24, 1962) is a former American baseball infielder and utility player who played 16 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB). He played the majority of his career for the New York Yankees, and also played for the California/Anaheim Angels, Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers from 1987 to 2002. Although he primarily played as a utility infielder, Velarde was utilized in the outfield as well.
Velarde played college baseball at the Church of Christ-affiliated Lubbock Christian University in Lubbock, Texas from 1982 until 1985, when he was drafted by the Chicago White Sox. He was subsequently traded to the New York Yankees, where he spent the majority of his career. Velarde is best known for turning the eleventh unassisted triple play in Major League Baseball history on May 29, 2000. 
Velarde was born in Midland, Texas on November 24, 1962, and is of Mexican American descent. He attended college at Lubbock Christian University, where he played four seasons of baseball. However, he was not drafted by any Major League team until his senior year.
Draft and minor leagues
Velarde was selected in the 19th round of the 1985 amateur draft by the Chicago White Sox. He joined the New York Yankees in 1987, when the White Sox traded him with Pete Filson in exchange for Scott Nielsen and Mike Soper. Velarde made his debut in 1987, but spent the next two seasons dividing his playing time between the Class AAA Columbus Clippers of the International League and the Yankees.
New York Yankees (1987–1995)
Velarde became the Yankees utility player in 1990, playing second base, shortstop, third base and left field. Becoming the most shuffled player on the Yankee roster appeared to have a negative effect on Velarde's offense, as he batted .210 in 95 games. In spring training of 1991, he competed with Mike Blowers and Jim Leyritz for the position of third base, where he started in the May 1 game against the Oakland Athletics that saw Rickey Henderson broke Lou Brock's all-time stolen base record. In 1992, he established himself as the everyday shortstop for the organization. However, he was always considered a utility player and subsequently reverted to the role, his versatility being cited as his main asset in contrast to his unreliable defense and lack of slugging prowess. Despite this, Velarde ended up batting .301 and .279 in 1993 and strike-shortened 1994 seasons, respectively.
In 1993, Velarde started games at shortstop, third base, left field and centre field and in the following season, he became the second-longest tenured Yankee player behind team captain Don Mattingly. He became a free agent at the end of the season for the first time in his career and re-signed with the Yankees for a one-year, $350,000 contract plus incentives, even though he was given a higher offer by other teams. Velarde's willingness to play in any position and his loyalty to the team prompted his manager, Buck Showalter, to call him "the epitome of a team player." In 1995, his final season with the Yankees, Velarde spent most of his time playing second base and though his batting average during the regular season was .278, he batted a disappointing .176 during the postseason. He again became a free agent at the end of the season.
Remainder of career (1996–2002)
Though Velarde was keen to remain with the Yankees (the only team he had played for up to this point), they turned down his request for a three-year contract. He reluctantly departed and signed a three-year, $2.45 million contract with the California Angels. He played only one game in 1997, as he was forced to miss the entire season due to injury. After more than three seasons with the Angels, Velarde was traded to the Oakland Athletics in the middle of the 1999 season. That year, he finished fourth in the American League in hits (200) and second in assists (493), while his season totals in batting average (.317), runs (105), hits, triples (7), home runs (16), runs batted in (76), stolen bases (24) and on-base percentage (.390) are all personal bests. He also became the sixth player in Major League history to amass 200 hits in a single season while playing for two different teams, and the first since Willie Montañez in 1976.
In his second season with the Athletics, Velarde turned an unassisted triple play against the Yankees, his former team, on May 29 in the bottom of the 6th inning. Velarde caught a line drive off of the bat of Shane Spencer, tagged Jorge Posada coming from first base, and touched second base to put out Tino Martinez. It was the eleventh time that such a play had been executed and Velarde became only the third second baseman to accomplish the feat (though Asdrúbal Cabrera and Eric Bruntlett have since achieved the feat). Velarde rejoined the Yankees in the middle of the 2001 season after a short stint with the Texas Rangers. He acknowledged that he had made a mistake when he departed the Yankees in 1995 in order to become an everyday player and vowed to "redeem the part of the career [he] missed." He ended up appearing in the 2001 World Series, where the Yankees lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks in seven games. Though he played the majority of his career with the Yankees, Velarde never won a World Series ring with the team. This was partially due to bad timing; the Yankees won the World Series the year after Velarde left and lost the World Series the season he returned, while winning four championships while he was away.
Use of performance-enhancing drugs
Velarde was one of several former Yankees players named on the Mitchell Report, which was released on December 13, 2007. Through his lawyer, he admitted that he had used "the cream" and "the clear", both of which were supplied to him by Greg Anderson. Velarde later testified in the Barry Bonds perjury case, stating that he purchased performance-enhancing drugs from and was injected with human growth hormone by Anderson, who was Bonds' personal trainer.
- Schwarz, Alan (June 4, 2000). "May 28–June 3; Record Outs". The New York Times. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
- Donnelly, Joe (Aug 27, 1987). "YANKEES NOTEBOOK Overseers Keep Tabs On Lou". Newsday. p. 165.
Rookie shortstop Randy Velarde is of Mexican parentage Growing up in Texas.
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- Martinez, Michael (March 29, 1991). "Baseball; The Velarde Shuffle: Where Will It End?". The New York Times. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
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- "MLB Scoreboard Recap – Oakland 5, Seattle 1". SI.com (CNN/Sports Illustrated). October 2, 1999. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
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- "Unassisted Triple Plays". Baseball-Almanac.com. Baseball Almanac. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
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- "Randy Velarde signs with Oakland". UPI.com (United Press International). January 11, 2002. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
- Dolan, Maura (March 31, 2011). "4th player says Bonds' trainer supplied drugs". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
- Mitchell, p. 137
- "The Mitchell Report: Name by Name – Interactive Graphic". The New York Times. July 5, 2011. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
- Macur, Juliet (March 30, 2011). "Velarde Says He Received Drugs and Injections From Bonds’s Trainer". The New York Times. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
- Mitchell, George (December 13, 2007). "Full Mitchell Report" (PDF). MLB.com. Major League Baseball. Retrieved September 7, 2012.