An ode to Luis Sojo, whose career was even more magical than you remember
Today, Luis Sojo turns 53 years old. If you were a baseball fan -- and especially a Yankees fan -- during the late 1990s, you probably remember him quite well. If you weren't, then a mostly reserve utility man who batted .261/.297/.352 in 848 games over 13 years may not ring a bell. For those in the latter group, allow us to educate you on one of the more wonderfully inexplicable careers in recent MLB history. For it's Luis' birthday, and we owe him that much.
- A natural shortstop when he entered the Minor Leagues, Sojo ended up an emergency fill-in almost everywhere on the diamond (a role he'd continue to hone throughout his big league career). He played second base, shortstop, third base, first base, DH and left field during his 13 MLB seasons.
- His first postseason experience came with the Mariners in 1995 -- the 30-year-old hit .250 with 10 hits in 40 at-bats. He also hit one of the weirdest Little League grand slams in playoff history. The Luis Sojo postseason magic show had begun.
- He won FIVE World Series. Yes, 13 part-time seasons and five Fall Classics. His first came for the Blue Jays in 1993, although he didn't play at all that postseason. He then won four with the Yankees ('96, '98, '99, '00). He wasn't an integral part of every team, but he did knock in the Series-winning run against the Mets in 2000.
He hit .400 with six RBIs in 15 World Series at-bats. Bernie Williams nicknamed him "El Mejor" aka "The Best," while announcer John Sterling called him the "best .200 hitter ever."
- Sojo has the most batting titles (5) in Venezuelan Winter League history -- .351 in 1989-90, .362 in '90-91, .375 in '93-94, .376 in '94-95 and .346 in '99-00. In 2012, he was inducted into the Venezuela Baseball Hall of Fame.
- In 2002, Sojo retired from baseball and coached the Yanks' Double-A Norwich Navigators to an Eastern League Championship. He then played in the 2003 Old-Timers' Day game and, stay with us here, was re-signed by the Yankees to spell an injured Derek Jeter the last few weeks of the season. He's the only known player to have been signed after playing in the Old-Timers' Day game.
Sojo would officially retire from the Majors after '03, but return for Old-Timers' Day in 2004 to smash a walk-off homer off former Cy Young Award winner Ron Guidry.
Sojo is currently coaching in the Yankees' Minor League system, but even today, when there's game on the line in the Bronx, you half-expect him to appear off the bench and hit a seeing-eye single up the middle.