He may have been overshadowed by another Venezuelan (Miguel Cabrera) and another retiring infielder (Chipper Jones), but Omar Vizquel deserves some attention for playing in his final game on Wednesday.
The 45-year-old web gem wizard threw out the first pitch for the Toronto Blue Jays before a 2-1 win over the Minnesota Twins at Rogers Centre before making one final start at shortstop. It was the 2,709th start at shortstop, the most in baseball history, and it ended in storybook with a hit in his last at-bat. Vizquel will head into retirement after 24 seasons with three All-Star appearances, 11 Gold Gloves and 2,877 hits.
"The base hit on the last at-bat I was going to take in the big leagues, I wanted to come out with a hit somehow," Vizquel said. "I wanted to get on base and God helped me out. I talked to him on that at-bat and I said 'God, I haven't really talked to you in too many at-bats in my career, but this is a time you have to come through for me.'" [...]
"I think if you can write a script and finish it that way, you wouldn't believe it. It came out perfect -- we won the game, I got the hit, I made a play and we are all going home happy," Vizquel said.
Fellow countryman Ozzie Guillen — only three years Vizquel's senior, by the way — paid his friend the ultimate compliment earlier in the day by saying Vizquel was equal to Luis Aparicio, a Venezuelan shortstop who's in the Hall of Fame.
Our own Jeff Passan once suggested that Vizquel belongs in the Hall of Fame due to his defensive wizardry. That earned him a famous fisking from the Fire Joe Morgan crew, but no one is ever going to deny that Vizquel was a pleasure to watch. Here's to a happy retirement for Vizquel, one I'm sure will have Vizquel out on the diamonds, teaching younger player the techniques that made him one of the best vacuums in baseball history.
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