It’s pretty obvious that we have a thing for position players who pitch here at Aaron Miles’ Fastball. And it was 25 years ago today that Jose Oquendo — then St. Louis Cardinals infielder, now of course Cards third base coach — truly earned his nickname as “The Secret Weapon.”
On May 14, 1988, Oquendo pitched four innings of the St. Louis Cardinals 19-inning 7-5 loss to the Atlanta Braves.
Chris Jaffe wrote all about The Jose Oquendo Game today at The Hardball Times. It’s a terrific read, as the game itself was pretty crazy even without Oquendo’s role in it, due to the moves Cards manager Whitey Herzog needed to make:
Oh, and there was one other odd little wrinkle. Because Herzog had used so many players as pinch-hitters or in double switches or whatever, when Oquendo shifted from first base to the mound, Herzog had no one to put on first. He wasn’t just out of pitchers—he was also out of position players.
Time to stay creative. Herzog moved Duane Walker, who had been playing in left, to first. In left he put Jose DeLeon—a starting pitcher. Yes, that’s right—Herzog put a pitcher in left, and a utility player on the mound.
You see, DeLeon was the starting pitcher the day before. He threw 8.2 innings, and so was far too tired in the arm to take the hill today. So that’s why Oquendo was on the mound instead.
Of Herzog’s remaining starting pitchers, he figured DeLeon would be the best bet in the bat and in the field. Not that Herzog wanted to risk DeLeon doing anything in the field. He kept switching DeLeon with right fielder Tom Brunansky. If a lefty was at the plate, he put Brunansky in right and DeLeon in left. When a righty was up, flip them. By the end of the day, DeLeon’s defensive assignment would read like this: LF-RF-LF-RF-LF-RF-LF-RF-LF-RF-LF-RF.
You really have to click the link for the whole piece though — as I said, it’s a terrific, and entertaining, read.
And keep scrolling down when you’re done reading about the 1988 game — there’s an interesting Stan Musial/Pepper Martin tidbit that occurred on this day in 1944.