Classic card of the week


Jose Oquendo, 1991 Topps

Some baseball players are good at hitting home runs. Some baseball players are good at pitching. Some baseball players are good at playing defense. Some baseball players are good at stealing bases and running fast around the bases and stuff. Some baseball players are good at doing baseball-related things that are intangible and that transcend definition, like clapping and screaming, “Go get ‘em, Charlie!” Some baseball players—and this is the most important quality a baseball player can have—are good at getting to the ballpark before other baseball players.



Jose is regularly the first player at park for game.

Which game, you ask? Every game, I think. For baseball.

Ozzie Smith: Jogs onto field at 5:07 for 7:05 game

Jose Oquendo: Slept on the field from the previous night in full uniform, been taking grounders since 10:15 a.m. … Glad you could join us, Ozzenthal. Rolls eyes in direction of coaches

Ozzie Smith: Sorry I’m late, fellas. My kid got sick and we had to rush him to the hospital …

Jose Oquendo: Pfft.

That was unnecessary. What else, Wikipedia?

José Manuel Roberto Guillermo Oquendo Contreras

Trivia question: What did Jose Oquendo have more of: names, or positions that he played on the baseball field? If you answered “names,” because you know now that he has so many names because I just mentioned it but are unaware of how many positions he played because we haven’t gotten into that yet, then you are an idiot.

In 1987, Oquendo played every position, except catcher, and was nicknamed “The Secret Weapon” by manager Whitey Herzog.

What made Oquendo a weapon was that he played almost every position on the baseball field, which was an asset to a baseball team similar to the way a weapon is an asset to a person trying to kill something. By inserting Jose Oquendo at shortstop one day, and left field the next day, you literally kill your opponent’s chance to win the World Series. Fact. What made him a secret was that he played all of these positions while wearing a Ronald Reagan mask.

Also, a super-utilityman who is first at the ballpark every day and only 5’ 10” AND who was born on the Fourth of July??!! If his name were, say, David Beckstein instead of Jose Manuel Roberto Guillermo Oquendo Contreras, I would have come up with at least 1,925 links to articles detailing his scrappiness when I Googled his name earlier.

Oquendo is currently the third base coach for the Cardinals. Also, this:

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.

With no one to coach him when he reached third base except himself, all the dimensions in the universe converged and reality was suspended. Everything in life that has happened since then has been a dream. Sorry.

Did you know?
Oquendo was fond of introducing himself to new teammates in this way: "Hello, my name is José Manuel Roberto Guillermo Oquendo Contreras. You killed my father. Prepare to die," which once caused Jack Clark, unfamiliar with the line and feeling threatened, as he had, allegedly, once killed a man in Reno, to kick Oquendo in the groin and run away.

Comments

Insomniac #4 said…
That was freakin hillarious!

Ever see the episode of ESPN's "Cheap Seats" where the Sklar brothers go on a quest to get Oquendo enshrined in the Hall Of Fame? It's kind of ridiculous but also kind of funny.

Your post might be funnier, though. I think the Sklar brothers were trying to be taken seriously. Maybe.
mkenny59 said…
Thanks, Insomniac! Although I haven't seen the clip, I noticed the Wiki page mentioned the Sklar Bros. skit. I'm not a big fan of theirs, but I thought that concept was pretty good. Apparently, it ended with a plaque hanging in the utility closet. Anyway, thanks again for the comment and kind words!