Friday, June 5, 2009

#107 -- Jose Cruz

Jose Cruz

Guys don't put tape on tehir bats much anymore. However, in the days before everyone used 2 batting gloves, that was the way to keep your hands on the bat. I remember doing this some as a kid. I also remember callouses from swinging a bat a lot in the vacant lot next door. Jose looks like he's not needing the batting gloves here.

A lot of people forget that Jose came up with the Cardinals and that he finished with the Yankees. After the 1974 season he was sold to the Astros. The Cardinals were so-so at the time, but with an outfield of Lou Brock, Reggie Smith and Bake McBride there wasn't any room for Jose. That deal sure didn't work out for the Cardinals, because he went on to have 14 good years with the Astros.

In 1972, Jose was platooning with Luis Melendez in the outfield. The Cards were trying to find playing time in center and right for Jose, Melendez, Bernie Carbo and Matty Alou. Jose still got to play about half the time. But with the emergence of Bake McBride, he was out.

What I remember most about Jose was the Cardinal organization was ga-ga about the prospect of 3 Cruz brothers in the majors, kind of like the Alous. However, his brothers -- Tommy and Hector -- never really made it big. Hector lasted a few years (after failing miserably to replace Ken Reitz at 3rd) and Tommy bounced around.

Jose is still coaching with the Astros. He'll never make the Hall of Fame, but he was a solid player for a very long time.

1972 Feature
There were only 2 games on June 5, 1972. Both ended with 3-2 scores. My Game of the Day will be the A's over the Indians in 10 innings. They scored 2 early runs on Gaylor Perry, who then shut the A's down until the Indians scored in the 7th and 8th to send it to extra innings. Bert Campaneris hit a 2 out homer in the top of the 10th. Blue Moon Odom and Darold Knowles put down the Indians in the 10th to close out the win.

June 5, 1972 was also the day Mike Coolbaugh was born. He died on the field in Little Rock almost 2 years ago after being hit by a batted ball. Now, all field coaches wear batting helmets. It was a horrible loss of what everyone has said is a great guy.


  1. Jose would be in the Hall of the Excellent.
    I still think it is pretty cool that 3 brothers made it and on the same team.

  2. Jose could have definitely made the HOF if he did not play his home games in the Astrodome. (Ditto for Jimmy Wynn) Cruz still had 2251 career hits.

    The Dome tended to make aces out of goos pitchers and ruin the careers of many very good hitters. Just look and the careers of guys like Joe Morgan, Rusty Staub and John Mayberry once they escaped Houston.