Omar!: My Life On and Off the Field

Overview

All-star shortstop Omar Vizquel tells the story of his life in baseball, from the sandlots of Caracas, Venezuela, to Game Seven of the World Series and beyond. It’s a a candid look inside the locker room of those powerhouse Indians teams of the late 1990s, from one of the best shortstops ever to play the game.

You don’t have to be a baseball fan to be an Omar Vizquel fan. Omar doesn’t just make the tough plays look easy. He makes the toughest plays look fun. Widely considered ...

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Overview

All-star shortstop Omar Vizquel tells the story of his life in baseball, from the sandlots of Caracas, Venezuela, to Game Seven of the World Series and beyond. It’s a a candid look inside the locker room of those powerhouse Indians teams of the late 1990s, from one of the best shortstops ever to play the game.

You don’t have to be a baseball fan to be an Omar Vizquel fan. Omar doesn’t just make the tough plays look easy. He makes the toughest plays look fun. Widely considered one of the best defensive shortstops in the history of baseball, he is often praised by teammates, opponents, and fans alike for working so hard at his game—and for obviously enjoying it so much.

His hard work has paid off. Omar won an amazing nine consecutive Rawlings Gold Glove Awards and holds the highest career fielding percentage of anyone at the position. He has been selected for three American League All-Star teams, has played in two World Series.

Includes a postscript by the author commenting on the controversial responses to the hardcover edition by Albert Belle and Jose Mesa.

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Editorial Reviews

Midwest Book Review
Offers a superb glimpse into the life of a master sports player and is highly recommended for baseball fans everywhere.
— James A. Cox
Star Beacon
A fine 251-page effort that details Omar’s career with the Indians, along with his life leading up to arriving in Northeast Ohio. Dyer, a columnist for the Akron Beacon Journal, does a wonderful job of making sure Omar’s personality comes to life on the pages . . . Does what it should—converts the nine-time Gold-Glove shortstop’s memories, thoughts and ideas to print perfectly. We finished to book in two reads.
— Don McCormack
WUAB TV43
“Omar” has plenty for the baseball fan, but the candid snapshots into the private life of Cleveland’s favorite Venezuelan are the real sell.
— David Rottman
Cleveland Magazine
Captures Vizquel’s quick wit and his passion for baseball. But it also provides glimpses of Vizquel back home in Venezuela, painting in his garage and Jet-Skiing during a hurricane warning . . . And Vizquel writes candidly about his teammates, the 1995 season, and who really deserves to be called the best defensive shortstop in baseball.
— Steve Gleydura
Tribune Chronicle
An entertaining and light read about the life of one of the most popular players in Cleveland Indians’ history and a true baseball renaissance man . . . One of the most fascinating chapters in the book captures the experiences of the 17-year-old Vizquel dealing with the culture shock of going from Venezuela to Butte, Mont.
— Andy Gray
School Library Journal
Vizquel’s delightful sense of humor is evident when he explains that as a child he had always assumed that Batman and the Sesame Street characters he watched on television were Venezuelan . . . Readers will be interested in the chapter “Cashing In” in which the author presents eye-opening information about baseball salary contracts.
Ohio Magazine
There’s more to the Venezuelan-born baseball star than defense. His multifaceted personality is apparent in “Omar!” . . . While the book provides a thorough retelling of his baseball career . . . the true surprise comes in learning of Vizquel’s passion for art.
From The Critics
The book does what it should‹converts the nine-time Gold-Glove shortstop¹s memories, thoughts and ideas to print perfectly.
Publishers Weekly
Noted glove artist Vizquel's career as a big-league shortstop has mirrored the careers of earlier Venezuelan stars such as Luis Aparicio and Dave Concepcion. Helped by newsman Dyer, Vizquel talks of his life as a player, husband, and father. He speaks proudly of the nine Golden Glove awards he has won for fielding, his other baseball achievements, and his hobbies, businesses, and possessions. Omar gives frank appraisals of fellow players, too admiringly of Cleveland teammate Jim Thome, for instance, and negatively of moody slugger Albert Belle. Mainly useful around Cleveland and Seattle, the two cities where Vizquel has played as a regular, this autobiography can serve adult and YA sports collections. Morey Berger, St. Joseph's Hosp. Lib., Tucson, AZ Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Noted glove artist Vizquel's career as a big-league shortstop has mirrored the careers of earlier Venezuelan stars such as Luis Aparicio and Dave Concepcion. Helped by newsman Dyer, Vizquel talks of his life as a player, husband, and father. He speaks proudly of the nine Golden Glove awards he has won for fielding, his other baseball achievements, and his hobbies, businesses, and possessions. Omar gives frank appraisals of fellow players, too admiringly of Cleveland teammate Jim Thome, for instance, and negatively of moody slugger Albert Belle. Mainly useful around Cleveland and Seattle, the two cities where Vizquel has played as a regular, this autobiography can serve adult and YA sports collections. Morey Berger, St. Joseph's Hosp. Lib., Tucson, AZ Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-This autobiography by the Cleveland Indians shortstop covers his early life in Venezuela and how he was chosen at the age of 17 to come to the United States to play ball. Vizquel's delightful sense of humor is evident when he explains that as a child he had always assumed that Batman and the Sesame Street characters he watched on television were Venezuelan and was shocked upon coming here and finding that the characters spoke English. Readers will be interested in the chapter "Cashing In," in which the author presents eye-opening information about baseball salary contracts. On the other hand, lack of strong organization has readers jumping back and forth in time. Sections about the athlete's favorite music, hobbies such as paintball, and his opinions of surfers read more like bits of trivia found in fan magazines than fodder for an autobiography. Vizquel's many asides to readers ("more on that next chapter-") are annoying and his digressions on fake grass and Astroturf, Cleveland's odor, the state of his baldness, and the number of vacuum cleaners or refrigerators in his house are more intrusive than informative. Sixteen pages of full-color photos appear in a centerfold. Strictly for avid fans of the game.-Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781886228597
  • Publisher: Gray & Company, Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/15/2003
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 264
  • Sales rank: 970,699
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Omar Vizquel is widely considered one of the best shortstops in the history of baseball. He is well known for his spectacular fielding, clutch hitting, smart baserunning . . . and his quick wit around the clubhouse. His remarkable streak of nine consecutive Gold Glove awards for fielding excellence set an American League record. He has been selected for three All-Star teams, and has appeared in two World Series.

Bob Dyer has served as a feature writer and columnist for the Akron Beacon Journal since 1984. His stories and columns have won 22 regional and national awards. He was one of the lead writers for A Question of Color, a yearlong examination of racial attitudes in Akron that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994. He is a graduate of West Geauga High School, near Cleveland, and the College of Wooster (Ohio). He lives in Copley, Ohio.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 4

Coming to America

Today it sounds like a comedy show. But it didn't seem very funny at the time.

I'm 17 years old.

I don't speak a word of English.

I arrive in America and they send me to Butte, Montana.

Now, if you've never been to Butte, Montana, you should know that in Butte, Montana, a person from Great Falls, Montana, is considered a foreigner. The population is about 25,000—and 24,000 of them wear cowboy hats and chew tobacco.

I was scared to death. Imagine being a 17-year-old Venezuelan who speaks nothing but Spanish.

Actually, I did know some English. I knew one word: eggs.

Every time I went to a restaurant, I'd say, "Eggs." They'd ask me how I'd like my eggs cooked, and I'd reply, "Eggs." They'd ask me if I wanted anything with them, and I'd say, "Eggs." My cholesterol level must have been 400.

Soon I started going to Denny's because their menus had pictures. I could just point at the food I wanted. Denny's quickly became part of my daily routine.

Fortunately, my misery had company. I came to America with two other Venezuelans. The manager of the Butte team, Manny Estrada, picked us up at the airport and drove us to a house where seven other Latin players were living. When I walked in, everybody was speaking Spanish, which made me feel right at home. A big party was under way. I thought it was a special welcoming party for us, but I soon discovered it was just a typical day. The place was one big, nonstop party.

The three of us from Venezuela took it easy in the partying department. We knew what we were there for, and it wasn't parties. It was baseball. The two other Venezuelan kids were from good families, too, and they kepttheir priorities straight.

Even with the other Latin players around, life was tough. I got really homesick. Sometimes I would just sit and cry. But I never thought about leaving. Not once. I knew that making the adjustment to America was part of my job. And I was willing to pay almost any price to reach my goal.

Most of the other guys in that house were gone within three years. In fact, I was the only one in the whole house to make it as far as Double-A ball.

Living there was a great experience, though. It was like a little United Nations. We had Venezuelans, a Mexican, a Puerto Rican, a Dominican . . . guys from all over.

In retrospect, the most important person I met in Butte was a girl from Mexico. I was coming out of a movie theater one day and heard her speaking Spanish. Believe me, you don't hear many people speaking Spanish in Butte. So we struck up a conversation, and soon we were hanging out constantly. She knew how to speak English and would teach me a little every day. I can't even remember her name. But she helped me so much. She even did my laundry. She was a saint.

Another way I picked up the language was watching television. But when I first turned it on, I was stunned to see the cartoons I grew up with. I always assumed that Batman and Robin, Superman, Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny, Popeye and all those guys were Venezuelan. I turned on the TV and they were all speaking English! I couldn't believe it.

Even Sesame Street was American. I almost died when I found out Sesame Street wasn't made in Venezuela. All the names were different, and a lot of them didn't translate from one language to the other. For example, in Venezuela, Kermit the Frog was Rana Reneé. Bert and Ernie were Beto and Enrique.

The show that got me most was Zorro. I swore Zorro was Venezuelan. When I turned on the TV and he was speaking English, I wanted to fall on his sword.

Still, learning English seemed like a worthwhile thing to do, and I kept my ears open. Some people just have an affinity for languages, and I guess I'm one of them. Although I speak only English and Spanish, I can understand bits and pieces of Italian, French, even Japanese.

When I was on a two-week goodwill tour of Japan with a group of major leaguers in November of 2000, I was able to pick up many Japanese phrases. After one week, I was ordering my food in Japanese. And not just eggs.

Learning a new language isn't that hard if you really pay attention to what people are saying. I'm surprised at how many of my Latin teammates have no interest in learning English. I have tried to help a number of them, but they're kind of shy. They feel embarrassed when one grown man is trying to teach another grown man how to write. I don't have a problem with that. I wish they wouldn't, either. It would be an honor for me to help Bartolo Colon, Ricardo Rincon, or Einar Diaz learn to write English or just to talk a little better. But they're simply not interested.

I think part of the reason for the lack of enthusiasm is that a lot of Latin players who come to the States are so proud of who they are and so proud of their countries that they don't want to absorb too much of the American culture. After each season they go back and live a happy life in their native country, and they figure that's good enough.

To a degree, I can understand that. I was a little bit like that at the beginning. In the minor leagues, I'd be on a plane back to Venezuela one millisecond after the season ended. But then I started getting more involved with the community and felt the need to develop my language skills.

Of course, a lot of Americans don't make much effort to acclimate themselves to foreign countries, either. Everywhere you guys go you expect everyone to speak English. When they don't, you have a hard time coping.

The U.S. players in Japan couldn't even leave the hotel without a guide. For me, Japan was easy. I'd just hop into a taxi and get out wherever the cab driver wanted to drop me. I was used to wandering around in a strange environment.

Language was only one of the big adjustments I had to make in Butte. The biggest difference between our countries is actually the food. We eat a lot of spicy stuff and a lot of rice, and Butte didn't have much of either. My body took a while to adjust.

After living in the U.S. for nearly 20 years now, the biggest difference I notice between my people and Americans is that Latin people tend to be warmer. They hug more, they hold hands more, they kiss more. They show their feelings. We're not as locked into rules, either. We tend to be more freewheeling—which can be good and bad.

Americans have a lot more freedom at an early age, though. In Venezuela, most kids continue to live with their parents until they reach age 20. Even when you're 21 or 22, you still have to ask your parents for permission to go to a party. But there I was in America, at age 17, essentially on my own. It's no wonder some Latin players just pack up and go home. But most of them are willing to gut it out because baseball is so important to them.

Latin players have become increasingly important to baseball as well. From 1978 to 1998, the percentage of foreign-born Latin players in the major leagues grew from 7 to 17 percent. Part of the reason is that baseball executives have found that whenever they import a Latin player, the guy can really play. We know the game. We work hard at it. So a lot of teams started going to Latin America to find more talent.

Another reason Latinos are more prominent in baseball is because kids in the United States have a million other things they can do. It's easy to lose focus on baseball when you have all the crazy sports you have here, things like skateboarding and motocross.

In Venezuela, it's only baseball, basketball, and soccer—or the informal stuff played on the street. In my country, you can't just go out and buy a new toy every week.

Latin players tend to band together in the States and help each other. Some people call it La Cadena—Spanish for The Chain. It's nothing formal; just a feeling of obligation the older players have toward the younger ones.

Unfortunately, most Venezuelan kids who come to the States don't make it to the majors. I was lucky. For every player like me, there are 100 other talented kids who, for one reason or another, don't make the grade. Maybe they get hurt. Maybe they're lacking a key ingredient, either mental or physical. Maybe they just have bad luck; sometimes you have to be with the right organization at the right time and be seen by the right people. And sometimes they just can't handle the culture shock.

When you can't read a menu or the lease for an apartment, and you can't understand your teammates, you're starting with two strikes against you. The language barrier hurts in more subtle ways, too. I can remember walking out of a hotel in my baseball uniform and having the other players laugh at me. They were all in their street clothes. I had misunderstood the instructions and thought we were supposed to dress in our rooms, not at the ballpark.

Scouts sign hundreds of Latin players every year, most of whom immediately quit school. They come to America believing they will be superstars. When they're cut, their lives are over. They have no baseball career and no education.

Current major league rules prohibit a scout from signing anyone under the age of 16, but each year dozens of top kids are signed under the table. In 1999, commissioner Bud Selig fined the Atlanta Braves $100,000 for signing a 15-year-old Dominican shortstop and banned the Braves from recruiting in the Dominican Republic for six months. The Los Angeles Dodgers got a similar penalty for signing an underage third baseman.

It's an old story. In fact, a generation ago, so many kids were being taken advantage of that, in 1981, a concerned American formed a group called the Latin Athletes Education Fund. Based in San Jose, California, the group brings poor but promising ballplayers to the States for college and athletic training.

The head honcho is a man named Don Odermann, a California stockbroker who used to be a Peace Corps worker. When he was stationed with the Corps in Puerto Rico, he watched, disgusted, as one slimy scout after another swooped down on 15-year-old athletes and signed them to dirt-cheap contracts. Odermann wanted to send a message to Latin players: if you want to keep playing baseball, you don't have to quit school and go straight to the minors. Instead, you can go to college, get a solid education, play ball against decent athletes, and get acclimated to life in the States. And if you sign a pro contract after that, all the better.

One of the trustees of the group is Juan Escalante, a childhood friend of mine. Juan is a product of the program. He was a good ballplayer, but not quite good enough. Because he got a college education through the Latin Athletes Education Fund, though, he was well prepared for life after baseball. Today he is a successful international businessman in New Castle, Indiana.

The group is relatively small, with about a dozen players enrolled in college each year, many from the Dominican Republic. But it's an effective program and one of my favorite charities. These people do good work, and I like to support them.

In Butte, in 1984, I was barely supporting myself.

Playing in the Class A Pioneer League with a bunch of other rookies, I hit .311 in 45 at-bats. My fielding was only so-so, but not because the fields were bad. The minor league diamonds were as smooth as bowling alleys compared to the ones I was used to.

The travel certainly took some getting used to, though. In the minors, a 10- or 12-hour bus ride is not uncommon. You're packed in tighter than a fat lady in Spandex, and sleep is tough to come by. Because I'm so short, I would sometimes climb up in the luggage racks above the seats and take a nap up there.

I learned one other important lesson while living in Montana: don't chew tobacco.

About 90 percent of the people in Butte seem to chew, some of them for breakfast. So I figured I'd give it a try. I put in a wad and lost my mind. I got dizzy and wanted to throw up. It was awful. The next day, I got to thinking that maybe snuff would work better. So I tried a dip of Copenhagen. That was even worse. I didn't know how some of those guys I saw with big wads did it, but I was certain from that day forward that I'd never have a bulge in my cheek.

The year after Butte, 1985, I was off to Bellingham, Washington, home of another Class A team, this time for a full season.

During spring training that year, they took us to see a big league practice. I remember it well, because that day was the first time I knew in my heart that I was good enough to play in the majors. When I saw them taking ground balls and swinging the bat, I realized they were normal human beings and that I could hold my own if I just played my game.

That year also marked the first time I lived with Americans. I stayed in a house with a host family and a teammate. The other player was a catcher from Boston, Bob Gibree, a guy taken in the third round of the draft, and he got to live upstairs in the nice part of the house. I lived in the basement with the rats. But I didn't care. I had all my pictures of my girlfriend from back home and did just fine in my little basement. The best part was that my American hosts gave me lots of leftovers, so I didn't have to worry about cooking.

The next year, 1986, it was off to Wausau, Wisconsin and my first stay east of the Mississippi. Fortunately, I went there with an outfielder named Jorge Uribe, who was from a poor town in Venezuela. We had a blast. We did everything together and became really close. We lived in a little apartment three blocks from the ballpark. I loved that guy. Still do. He was so down to earth. Having come from a little town, he was humble and naïve and innocent. It was just fun being around him.

Two floors up were two other Venezuelans. We'd all go shopping together and cook together. That was the first year I was essentially living on my own. And that was the first time I really felt like a man.

But in one game that year, I felt anything but manly.

A runner was on first when the batter hit me a grounder. I got ready to scoop it up and start the double play, but the ball took a funny hop and hit me under the chin. When I looked down for the ball, I couldn't find it. The second baseman was yelling at me, but at first I couldn't understand him. Finally I figured out that he was telling me to look inside my shirt. The top button of my jersey was unbuttoned, and the ball had hit my chin and rolled down my front. I didn't know what to do. The runner on first was already at second, and he figured that, with the ball inside my jersey, he might as well head for third. So I ran over and hugged him. I figured that would count as a tag.

The umpire didn't know what to do. Nobody had ever seen anything like that before. Eventually, the ump decided to call the runner safe. The other guy ended up on second.

In spite of adventures like that, I continued to work my way up through the organization.

In 1987, it was Salinas, of the California League. Again I lived with Americans. That was a good experience, because the Collins family helped me understand a lot more about American living. My English really started coming around.

The Collinses were a strong Christian family who prayed before they ate. I used to take care of their yard, a big lot on a corner.

One of my good buddies in Salinas was Jeff Nelson, who went on to pitch for the Mariners in the early '90s, played for those great Yankee teams of the late '90s, and came back to the Mariners as a free agent in 2001. His wedding reception was held at the Collinses' house.

Jeff is 6-foot-8, 235 pounds. When we hung out together, we were a sight.

Jeff is a great guy, but in those days he couldn't throw a strike. He'd drive me crazy. Every time he would pitch, I'd get mad. His wife, Colette, would sit there and yell, "Come on, Big Daddy, throw strikes!" Apparently, he never heard her, or any of the other people who were urging him to get the ball over the plate. He was a starter in those days, but he usually didn't last more than a few innings because he'd throw 50 pitches every inning.

The man was a riot, though. His wedding was at the ballpark in Salinas. He and Colette took their vows right on the mound in front of one of the biggest crowds of the year. Instead of walking down the aisle, they walked under a row of raised baseball bats. After the ceremony, a limo drove in from behind the fence to chauffeur them away.

I didn't ride in any limos that year, but I did get my first car. When I returned to Caracas after the season, I bought a used Renault Fuego. Paid 250,000 B's for it. That's bolivars, Venezuela's basic monetary unit. In American dollars, the price wasn't quite as impressive, maybe $2,200.

The following year, 1988, Jeff and I were on the move again. His next stop: San Bernardino, California. My next stop: Vermont.

Burlington, Vermont, to be precise, home of the Double-A Vermont Mariners. The M's had just signed an agreement with the team, which had previously been a farm club for the Cincinnati Reds.

I was reunited with my good buddy, Jorge Uribe. We lived in a little place above a restaurant called the Rusty Scupper. It had one bathroom, a tiny kitchen, and two beds in the same room. Every night when we came back from the game we could smell clam chowder and steaks cooking downstairs.

When it was too hot to sleep, we'd open a window that was right next to a fire escape. Anybody could have climbed right in during the night. But we never worried. In fact, I never worried at all about my safety in the minors. I never realized how dangerous life can be away from the field. Minor leaguers are just like any other high-school-age kids: you think you're invulnerable. It's amazing any teenager survives.

Our ballpark, Centennial Field, was on the campus of the University of Vermont, and early in the season we had to fight for field time with the college team. The city used the field, too.

The distance between the locker room and the diamond seemed like 20 miles. The stadium was old, and not exactly plush. The place operated like a drive-in movie. Fans arriving for a game would buy their tickets while they were still in their car, then drive around looking for a place to park. Parking was a nightmare, because there just wasn't enough room. The road behind the field was dirt, so it was either a dust bowl or a water-soaked quagmire. The bathrooms were port-a-pots. And, in a stadium that seated 5,000 people, there was exactly one concession stand.

The neighbors hated the place. They hated the traffic and the glare from the lights during night games. The houses were incredibly close to the field—so close that foul balls sometimes nailed them.

Still, I loved playing in Vermont. We had some talent on that team—Ken Griffey, Jr. was with us for a little while—and we played well, winding up with a record of 79-60, good for second place.

I had so much fun there. I met a woman there named Sonya who let me borrow her stereo. To this day, I talk to her. My wife knows her, too. She lives near Boston, and when we play the Red Sox, I always leave tickets for her. Jorge used to date Sonya's best friend, and the four of us would go out together.

Those were the days. Life was so simple. I didn't have much and didn't want much. I was only making $800 a month, plus a whopping $12-per-day meal money on the road, but in some ways I was never happier. Jorge and I went half-and-half on all the expenses and never felt we were missing a thing. As a matter of fact, late that season, when the Mariners told me they were moving me up to Triple-A, I started crying.

Only one month remained in the 1988 season, and I fully expected to stay right where I was, just as I had during all my other minor league seasons. The Vermont team was doing great, and I was perfectly happy.

A lot of people pray for a call-up, but I was devastated. We were in New Britain, Connecticut, playing against the Red Sox affiliate, when the manager took me to his office and told me to pack for Calgary, Canada.

I called my mother and said, "I don't want to go. I want to stay right here and finish the year." She said, "No, you can't do that! You have to go to Triple-A!" So I headed off to Calgary, leaving Jorge and my other friends behind.

Calgary was awful. I hated the place from day one. Froze to death. The food was terrible. I had to live in a little hotel all by myself. I realize this means I will never be offered a job by the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, but everything about Calgary bummed me out. Maybe things seemed worse than they were because I had been so happy in Vermont. That last month seemed to take a year. As soon as the final pitch was thrown, I was on a plane back to Venezuela.

Every winter through 1995, I would come home and play in Venezuela's professional league. My first couple of years with the Leonese of Caracas were rough, because I was one of the youngest players on the team. People called me Menudo, after the teenage pop singing group (the one Ricky Martin was in). I did look young. There I was, 18, 19 years old, playing with guys who were in Triple-A and the big leagues, guys like Tony Armas and Bo Diaz.

The Venezuelan winter league has eight teams that play from mid-October through the end of January. The biggest rivalry, by far, is between my old Caracas team and the Navegantes de Magallanes, from the city of Valencia. Those games make Yankees­ Red Sox games seem tame.

Eventually, after a decade, I had to give up playing winter ball at home, because it just wore me down too much. We played 60 games in the winter. By the time I got through spring training in the States and then into the regular season grind, I was wearing out by July, and I'd be terrible in August and September. At first I was afraid that the fans in Venezuela would be mad at me, maybe think I suddenly considered myself too good to play there. But I think they understand that my body just couldn't handle it.

In some ways, playing in Venezuela is tougher on your head than playing in the American minor leagues. The fans in Venezuela are outrageous. When they get on a guy, they don't stop. One fan always stood behind home plate and screamed the entire game. He hated our second baseman and rode him constantly.

The abuse wasn't just verbal. The ballpark sold lots of oranges. They were sold in halves, and the fans would peel them, eat the inside, and save the peels for when somebody made an error. They threw beer at you, too. The outfielders had to wear batting helmets to protect themselves from the junk that would fly out of the stands.

We quickly learned to expect that kind of behavior. That's why there was so much pressure every time you took the field to avoid making an error. Maybe that's why I enjoy playing in Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park. Those fans get on you pretty good, too. When I was in Fenway one time, I took off my batting helmet in the on-deck circle and rubbed my bald patch, and some guy yelled, "Hey, Vizquel, you building a runway up there?"

Made me feel right at home.

From Omar! My Life On and Off the Field (c) 2002 by Omar Vizquel with Bob Dyer. Reprinted with permission of Gray & Company, Publishers.

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Table of Contents

1. Game Seven

2. Making Mischief

3. Carrasquel to Aparicio to Concepcion

4. Coming to America

5. Seattle

6. Off to Cleveland

7. Strike Three

8. 1995

9. The Whole World’s Watching

10. Albert and Other Clubhouse Characters

11. You’ve Gotta Try Everything

12. Glove of Gold

13. All-Star

14. A House in the Country

15. Cashing In

16. Natural Disaster

17. Life on the North Coast

18. Instant Classic

19. Instant Horror

20. Looking Ahead

Acknowledgments

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