The Baseball Posts: The Blue Jays' New Back-Up Shortstop Is So Old That... by Adam Bunch

This post was originally published on Jan. 1, 2012

This week, the Toronto Blue Jays announced the signing of Venezuelan shortstop Omar Vizquel. He is, without a doubt, one of the greatest defensive players in the entire history of baseball. He has won 11 Gold Glove awards, nine of them in a row for a while there. And though he's never been a very good hitter, that hasn't stopped him from been named to three All-Star teams and even getting some MVP votes after one particularly good season at the plate. There's a pretty good chance that he's going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame someday.

And he might prove to be especially popular with Blue Jays fans. Back when he played with Cleveland, he was teammates with Roberto Alomar, pairing up for what some people call the greatest double-play combination in the history of the sport. And it was while he was in Cleveland that he mentored a young shortstop by the name of John McDonald, who would go on to play for Toronto until late last year. The "Prime Minister of Defense" is a breathtaking shortstop, a terrible hitter and one of the most popular players the Jays have ever had. While he was in Toronto, he never missed an opportunity to credit Vizquel for taking the time to mentor him.

These days, Vizquel's performance has started to fall off quite a bit; his career his winding down. The Blue Jays have only promised him a chance to come to Spring Training and compete for a spot on the team. But there's a good reason for his decline: he will be 45 years old this season, one of the very oldest players to have ever played in the major leagues. He's been doing it for 23 years now, ever since he broke in with the Seattle Mariners all the way back in 1989.

In fact, Omar Vizquel is soooo old that... one in the majors today has played more games or had more at-bats than him one born outside the United States has ever played more games of baseball ever one else has ever played more games as a shortstop ever

...the first time he came to Toronto to play against the Jays, they were still playing at Exhibition Stadium

...when he first played the Jays, their line-up had George Bell, Jesse Barfield, Lloyd Moseby, Ernie Whitt, Fred McGriff, Manny Lee and Rance Mullinicks in it

...he hit his first major league home run off Jimmy Key

...he played against a guy who had played against Mickey Mantle

...when he played his first game in the majors, two of his current Blue Jays teammates, third baseman Brett Lawrie and starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez, hadn't even been born yet

...when he was first signed into the minor leagues a few years before that, about half of the players on the current Blue Jays' roster were yet to be born

...he's older than nine of the 30 teams in baseball

...he was referenced in an episode from the third season of The Simpsons (the one where Milhouse falls in love with the new girl at school and Bart gets jealous)

...he once hit a triple off current Blue Jays manager (and long time ago pitcher) John Farrell his first season as a major league baseball player, he made $68,000

...when he started his career, the Yankees still sucked 

(Not that his age has stopped him from having his own Twitter account. You can follow him here.)


Photo: detail from Omar Vizquel's rookie card

The Baseball Posts are series of posts about, um, well, baseball. You'll find them all here. 

Adam Bunch is the Editor-in-Chief of the Little Red Umbrella and the creator of the Toronto Dreams Project. You can read his posts here, follow him on Twitter here, or email him at


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