No. 242 Jose Cruz (Number 24 Left Field)

My biggest memory of Jose Cruz was after the 1980 playoffs, sitting on the bench staring straight ahead long after the game had ended. His team just lost one of the greatest games and greatest playoff series of all time and Cruz played great in the series. In fact, he was so exciting in the series I was cheering for Houston to win, even though I was neutral when the series started.

In the series Cruz hit .400 in the five games, but in addition to that he walked 8 times. He was on base 14 times in 5 games. Cruz drove in the tying run in the bottom of the eighth to force the fifth game into extra innings. It was his last at bat of the year as the seven batters who batted behind him made out.

This series was one of a kind. Philadelphia won the first game 3-1 in what was an all-right game. Then the next four games were all in extra innings. In my opinion it was the best championship series I ever saw.

Jose Cruz was always thought to be underrated, but Bill James just did a study of the least award players to accomplishments in the field. The study showed who earned the most awards as a player based on ability and who earned the least. Jose Cruz was the 7th least recognized per ability. In large part because he played in a non-hitters park during the peak of his career. Also, he was a solid all-around player who wasn’t great in any one area.

Jose Cruz had a nice career and to me is hall of fame eligible, but his memory Is fading. Cruz had better seasons after 1980, strong all-star like seasons and didn’t really get a lot of publicly for them.  Also, he never came close to carrying a team to a World Series again.

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