24 years ago, Omar Vizquel joined the Indians and began an 11-year odyssey of all-around brilliance
Think back to watching Omar Vizquel play baseball. What are you picturing? Maybe dazzling defensive plays like this:
The man put on a show.
Vizquel came up with the Mariners in 1989, but four years later the most impactful phase of his career was set into motion: On Dec. 20, 1993, a then-26-year-old Vizquel was traded to the Indians in exchange for Felix Fermin, Reggie Jefferson and cash considerations ... and it'd be the only place he'd call home for the next 11 seasons.
With Cleveland, Vizquel became a bit of a Big Deal. After picking up his first Gold Glove Award for outstanding defense at shortstop in '93 with Seattle, Vizquel then won eight straight. He was good -- and just as importantly, he was also a lot of fun, doing things like this on a regular basis:
That's the essence of Omar, really: jaw-dropping defense and a strong sense of fun, all the time.
But he also hit a bit, too. His slashed a cumulative .283/.352/.379 with Cleveland over the span of those 11 seasons, making three All-Star rosters in the process. In '99, a .333/.397/.436 line (and career-best 6.0 WAR) netted Vizquel some AL MVP consideration, as well. He looked pretty good in his All-Star Game uniform next to Ron Coomer and Derek Jeter:
Remember that insane game in 2001 when the Indians rallied back from a 14-2 deficit to beat the Mariners, 15-14, in extra innings? Vizquel was a big part of that, slapping a game-tying, three-run triple in the bottom of the ninth:
His .985 fielding percentage is still tied with Troy Tulowitzki for the best all-time among shortstops, and no shortstop has turned more double plays.
For his efforts, Vizquel was enshrined into the Indians' Hall of Fame in 2014:
And he's eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame for the first time in 2018, something he's very proud about:
Through it all, it's tough to think of the late-'90s Indians without conjuring up an image of Vizquel in your mind, and it's all thanks to that trade in 1993.
(Along the way, he became a huge inspiration for a young Venezuelan infielder named Jose Altuve, who "worshipped" Vizquel and modeled his play after him ... and that turned out pretty well, too.)