Lost in the news cycle of the end of the regular season was the announcement that Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Omar Vizquel was hanging up his cleats. Unless he changes his mind and pulls a Roger Clemens, October 3 will have marked the end of Vizquel’s incredible 24-year MLB playing career.
It’s been more than eight years since the last time Vizquel donned an Indians uniform, and he’s suited up for four different non-Cleveland teams in the last five years. Heck, he’s appeared in games against the Tribe 76 times, including 16 occasions at Progressive Field since his departure. Yet he’s still beloved in Northeast Ohio, so it seemed wrong not to mark the end of his playing career without some reflection on the days he spent shagging grounders in Cleveland.
I’m not quite sure how to talk about Omar without it devolving into hyperbole, so here goes: In his prime, Vizquel was the greatest fielder of his generation and one of the best glovesmen of all time. Forget fielding percentage, forget range factor, forget UZR. Anyone who ever saw Vizquel make a diving catch look like nothing or leap over a sliding runner to complete a double play knows how incredibly talented he was.
What made Omar even more extraordinary was the incredible ease with which he seemed to play. Vizquel has one of the greatest nicknames in recent baseball history: “Manos de Seda,” which means “Hands of Silk.” The grace, the fluidity, the effortlessness with which he moved and scooped and leaped and threw—it wasn’t just that he was a great defensive shortstop. It seemed like that was what he was born to do.
But it wasn’t just the glove. Omar is a class act. He plays the game the right way. He bunts. He runs. He hustles. He’s changed roles and positions without complaint. He’s respected in every corner of the game, and he’s going to make a great manager someday—perhaps even in Cleveland.
Omar Vizquel’s phenomenal glove, effortless defensive heroics, and old-school approach have made him Indians legend and a fan favorite all over the league. We wish him the best of luck in his retirement, and we hope to see him soon both on a coaching staff and in Cooperstown.