- SS, 2B, DH, OF, RF, 3B
- Little O
- April 24, 1967
- 5' 9"
- 175 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 4-03-1989 with SEA
- Allstar Selections:
- 1993 GG, 1994 GG, 1995 GG, 1996 GG, 1996 HA, 1997 GG, 1998 GG, 1999 GG, 2000 GG, 2001 GG, 2005 GG, 2006 GG
Omar Enrique Vizquel González (; born April 24, 1967 in Caracas, Venezuela), nicknamed "Little O", is a Major League Baseball shortstop and third baseman for the Chicago White Sox. Previously, Vizquel played for the Seattle Mariners (1989–1993), the Cleveland Indians (1994–2004), the San Francisco Giants (2005–2008), and the Texas Rangers in 2009. In Venezuela he played with the team Leones del Caracas.
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's American League record, since surpassed, for most consecutive games at shortstop without an error (95 between September 26, 1999 and July 21, 2000). Cooperstown Bound? - Omar Vizquel 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. Vizquel is the all-time leader in double plays made while playing shortstop. He has the most hits recorded by any player from Venezuela (2,799; 47th all-time, as of the end of the 2010 season), surpassing Aparicio's record of 2,677 on June 25, 2009. On May 24, 2010, Vizquel became the shortstop with the second most hits all time, behind Derek Jeter. Currently, Vizquel is the oldest starting position player in the Major Leagues, and the third-oldest active player overall behind pitchers Tim Wakefield and Jamie Moyer.
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.
At the end of the 1993 season, Vizquel was traded by the Mariners to the Indians for Félix Fermín, Reggie Jefferson, and cash.
After joining the Indians, Vizquel became a stronger, more competent hitter. On the field, Vizquel and second baseman Roberto Alomar were recognized as one of the top all time defensive duos.
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 an additional two 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 Roberto Alomar in the most productive offensive line-up in Cleveland baseball history.
On August 5, 2001, Vizquel hit a 3-run triple in the ninth inning against the Seattle Mariners to tie the game 14-14, erasing an earlier 14-2 deficit midway through the seventh inning. The Indians went on to win 15-14 in 11 innings. It was tied for the largest comeback in history. Vizquel continued to reach 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, but in one of those games on May 27, 2003, Vizquel had a straight steal of home against the Detroit Tigers. This caught Tigers pitcher Steve Avery by so much surprise that Vizquel made it home without a throw, which is extremely rare. 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. As of the end of the 2010 season, at the age of 43 in a 22-year Major League career, Vizquel has a .273 lifetime batting average with 2799 hits, 1012 walks, 400 stolen bases and 1414 runs.
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 again stole home against Oakland Athletics pitcher, Greg Smith, on June 13.
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 won the Hutch Award and the Willie Mac Award, and was a finalist for the Heart and 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.
On January 21, 2009, Vizquel signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers Vizquel signs with Rangers and made the team's major league roster. He served mainly as a backup middle infielder.
On November 23, 2009, Vizquel agreed to a one year contract with the Chicago White Sox worth $1.4 million.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, mostly due to the fact that White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen - like Vizquel and Aparicio, a Venezulean 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 September 8, 2010, he reached and subsequently crossed The Oh Line, the oft-used hitting gauge inspired by the Beastie Boys song Hey Ladies and the track's lyric "...and I got more hits than Sadaharu Oh," (the Japanese baseball player and manager), by belting a home run off of Jeremy Bonderman in the 4th inning for his 2,786th career hit and by hitting a single in the 7th inning for his 2,787th career hit. On November 2nd, 2010, Vizquel signed a 1 year deal to remain in Chicago.
Feud with Jose Mesa
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."
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. Rocky contest marred by plenty of ejections 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 has batted .333 (7-for-21) against Mesa.
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. 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, 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. This is ironic, as, due to Vizquel's lack of success to that point, it is implied that Vizquel is a terrible player, and thus, the deal is equally terrible.
Vizquel is married to Nicole. The couple has a son, Nicholas Enrique, and an adopted daughter, Caylee Rae.
Baseball records and accomplishments
- 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)
- 2nd highest career fielding percentage by a shortstop (0.9846) behind Troy Tulowitzki
- 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
- All-time leader in hits by a player from Venezuela Vizquel becomes Venezuelean Hits King
- The 50th major league player to reach 2750 career hits (July 23, 2010)
- Third-most hits by an active (roster) player behind Derek Jeter and Ivan Rodriguez, was the category leader for the 2008 and a portion of the 2009 seasons, 47th all-time
- Most singles by an active (roster) player, 20th all-time
- Most at-bats by an active (roster) player, 20th all-time
- Most sacrifice hits by an active (roster) player (over twice the second player), 4 time league leader (1997, 1999, 2004 & 2005), 40th all-time
- Third most stolen bases by an active (roster) player behind Juan Pierre and Carl Crawford, 68th all-time (tie)
- 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)
- Most seasons by active player as a batting title qualifier with isolated power (extra bases per at-bat) under .100, with 12.
- All-time leader in games played at shortstop
- Most games played by an active (roster) player, 15th all-time (tie)
- 3-time All-Star (1998, 1999 and 2002)
- Won 2 American League Championships (with Cleveland, 1995 and 1997 World Series)
- Won 6 American League Central Division Championships (with Cleveland, 1995-9, 2001)
- Won the Hutch Award (1996), the only non-American player ever to do so
- Won the Willie Mac Award (2006) for spirit and leadership
- Finalist for the Heart & Hustle Award (2007) for embodying "the values, spirit and tradition of the game"
- Captain of Venezuelan World Baseball Classic team (2006)
- Member of the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame
- "Vizquel an artist at work" by Jeff Passan, Yahoo! Sports, May 24, 2006
- "Older players make final bids for Hall of Fame" by Mel Antonen, USA TODAY, July 27, 2006
- "Last call for the Hall" by Gary Kaufman, Salon.com, July 26, 2000
- "ALL SYSTEMS O!" by Bill Livingston, The Plain Dealer, September 26, 2004
- Omar Vizquel and Bob Dyer (2002). Omar!: My Life on and Off the Field. Gray & Company Publishers. ISBN 9781886228559
- Reaches 2500 hits
- Guitar Mania — Vizquel's painted guitar photos
- Article mentioning MLB record of the fewest errors by a shortstop in a season
- A sample chapter from the book Omar! by Omar Vizquel and Bob Dyer
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