07/28/2004: Jose "The Secret Weapon" Oquendo has always been one of my favorite Cardinals...
which is why I loved reading this (following the link? Then scroll down to Oquendo's name) in the Post-Dispatch:
Oquendo wins recognitionNot mentioned here are the facts that Oquendo, back in 1988, became the first position player in a long, long while to pitch to a decision (a loss, unfortunately), and that Oquendo is credited with two career strikeouts as a pitcher. Back in the '80s Whitey Herzog's Runnin' Redbirds were a fun team to follow, and Jose Oquendo was a big reason for that joy.
The Hall of Fame made a house call to Jose Oquendo on Tuesday, courtesy of Reds broadcaster George Grande.
Grande, emcee of each summer's enshrinement ceremonies at Cooperstown, N.Y., stopped by the Cardinals clubhouse before Tuesday's game to show off a bust of the Cardinals third-base coach. Under the name of Jose Manuel Oquendo was inscribed his nickname, "The Secret Weapon," followed by a brief recap of Oquendo's 12-year major-league career, all but two years spent with the Cardinals.
In 1988, Oquendo became the first National League player since 1918 to play all nine positions. His renown as a pitcher came from striking out Deion Sanders looking in 1991.
"I thought it was crazy; but it's cool," Oquendo said after receiving a healthy ribbing from players and fellow coaches before batting practice.
ESPN is producing a segment on the game's best utility players, scheduled to air next month. The network recently traveled to Puerto Rico to interview Oquendo's mother and wife.
"I think it's great they recognize utility-type guys," Oquendo said. "Back in the '80s, when there was a 24-man roster, it was an important job. When guys played all over the field, it wasn't because they thought it was fun; it was because they had to."
Congrats, Jose, you've earned all the kudos they can heap on your head.
Len on 07.28.04 @ 08:16 AM CST