Monday, June 23, 2008

Omar Stories: Get Em' While They're Hot

Omar Vizquel's return to Cleveland tomorrow night is razzing up Tribe fans and sportswriters into quite a tizzy. In fact, I can't recall a more celebrated homecoming since the 1999 return of Al Morman.

This afternoon,' s sports page had a link that read "Share your Omar Memories." Though I had no unique Omar stories of my own to offer, I'm an admitted huge fan of memories, so I clicked through. Though about 90% of the user comments were venomous criticisms hurled towards Mark Shapiro and company (for their refusal to resign Omar in 2004), I did manage to find a few actual "memories." Below, I have weeded out some of the more entertaining/weird/probably not true nuggets for your reading pleasure:

Memory Number 1 -- Posted by jftciii:
I remember seeing him play in Pittsburgh during an interleague game. Every member of the Pirates stood on the dugout steps to watch him take infield practice...

Alright, this can't be true. I believe that the Pirates players stood to watch Omar during practice, but there is no way it could have been only to watch him take ground balls. Omar was good, but its not like he was fielding one-hoppers with his crotch or anything. There must have been something else going on here. I bet Omar had some nasty skid marks showing through the back of his pants or something.

Memory Number 2 -- Posted by denfair:
I saw Omar play in KC when he was still an Indian. The Kansas City fans loved him as much as The Tribe fans. When The Indians went out on defense in the first inning Omar did a back flip ala Ozzie smith. Another time in KC they get the players to play limbo before the inning starts. They use a colored laser beam and the player has to limbo under it. Omar won hands down...

What!? Laser beam limbo? When was this KC game, 2068? This not only seems insane, but it sounds very dangerous as well. One slip and Omar totally could have laser beamed his face off. Also, why was Omar saving all his back flips for the KC fans? Clevelanders enjoy acrobats too.

Memory Number 3 -- Posted by chickenbacca
I will never forget taking my son to his first game ever and Omar getting his 2000 hit...

This guy's son probably has no interests in baseball whatsoever. He just gets dragged to games by his Father and has to hear things like, "son, check this out, this would be a perfect time for a hit-and-run." "Leave me alone Dad, I'm trying to read my Gamepro magazine."

Memory Number 4 -- Posted by naragon
The Indians had the pieces in 1992 and 1993, but the team did not start winning until John Hart added Omar in 1994. Hart was a baseball lifer who preferred watching players instead of statistics.

I know, this is not really a memory. But this is a good example of the tone most of the other comments have taken on. I like this one because its fun to picture Mark Shapiro sitting in front of a giant truck-sized "baseball calculator", making his lackeys push buttons and devilishly laughing, "more, give me more, I need more precious statistics!"

Memory Number 5 -- Posted by jaws008
My best memory of Omar was at ABC Liquor in Winter Haven when I lived there. Omar walked in with a few people and I went to him and said whats up and he was one of the coolest cats i've ever met. He offered to buy me some booze but I had already got some. Just the thought that the greatest shortstop ever would say such a thing made me realize what a good person he was...

This is an awesome story. And what's not even mentioned here is that this guy was 11-years-old at the time.


Dan W said...

True story:

After an Indians game, my friends and I were getting on 71 South from E. 9th to head back to the West Side. Omar pulled out of the Indians parking lot in his yellow sports car right behind us, so my friend thought it would be cool to slow down and attempt to race him in his 1989 Buick with about 200K miles on it. Needless to say, Omar flew right past us and gave us a thumbs up.

Todd S. said...

Oh man, I totally remember that car. I think everyone who waited at the parking fences for autographs does. The thing should be made into a statue next to Bob Feller.

Mark Harr said...

Opposing players would often watch Omar taking infield practice. He would often take ground balls bare-handed, or bounce it off the back of his glove, or use his foot to kick a grounder in the air to bare-hand it for the throw, or take the ground ball between his legs, or any other of dozens of ways to field his position. He is a field magician. I do believe the best double-play combo in the major league history has to be Omar and Robbie Alomar. Those few years they played together had a highlight-reel type play every night.