Omar Enrique Vizquel Gonzalez (born April 24, 1967, in Caracas, Venezuela) is a Major League Baseball shortstop for the Chicago White Sox. Previously, Vizquel played for the Seattle Mariners (1989–1993), the Cleveland Indians (1994–2004) the San Francisco Giants (2005–2008); the Texas Rangers (2009); and the Chicago White Sox (2010). Omar joined the select group of 4-decade players (1989-2010) when he signed with the Chicago White Sox (managed by Ozzie Guillen) for the 2010 season. Ken Griffey, Jr. and pitcher Jamie Moyer joined him as new 4-decade men in the first week of he 2010 major league season.
Vizquel is considered one of baseball's all-time best defensive shortstops, winning nine consecutive Gold Gloves (1993–2001) and two more in 2005 and 2006. He also tied Cal Ripken's AL record, since surpassed, for most consecutive games at shortstop without an error (95 between September 26, 1999 and July 21, 2000). As of 2007, his .985 career fielding percentage is the highest of all-time for a shortstop in Major League history. On May 25, 2008, Vizquel became the all-time leader in games played at that position, passing Luis Aparicio. Vizquel is also the all-time leader in both double-plays made and hits recorded while playing shortstop. He also has the most hits recorded by any player from Venezula, surpassing the previous record of 2,677 held by Luis Aparicio on June 25, 2009. Derek Jeter has surpassed both Vizquel and Luis Aparicio for most hits by a shortstop in a career.
Vizquel started his career in Venezuela with los Leones del Caracas together with other players like Andres Galarraga and Antonio Armas. Originally signed by the Mariners as a non-drafted free agent in 1984, Vizquel made his Major League debut on April 3, 1989. His exceptional defensive ability, along with his striking resemblance to Ozzie Smith became evident early on in his professional career, but it took Vizquel several years to master the art of hitting. Strictly a singles hitter from the beginning, Vizquel batted .220, .247, and .230 with only 39 extra base hits in his first three seasons with Seattle. After hitting .294 in 1992, Vizquel was slated for a repeat performance the following year, but despite having reached a batting average of .292 by the All-Star break in 1993, he batted only .202 for the rest of the season, to finish at .252.
Although Vizquel had never before appeared for 550 at-bats in a full season, he nonetheless contributed significantly to the Mariners' offense, mainly bunting to advance runners and drawing walks. However, by year's end, Vizquel was traded by the Mariners to the Indians for Félix Fermín, Reggie Jefferson, and cash (Fermin hit well for Seattle in 1994, but suffered an injury and retired in 1996).
After joining the Indians, Vizquel became a stronger, more competent hitter. In 1996, he batted .297 with nine home runs, 64 runs batted in, 98 runs, 36 doubles, and a .362 on base percentage. He continued to hit consistently well over the years with the team, reaching a career-high batting average of .333 in 1999 with 191 hits, thus helping the Indians to their fifth-straight AL Central Division title. That same year, Vizquel scored 112 runs, hit 36 doubles with 66 RBIs, and stole 42 bases while drawing more walks than strikeouts in his best offensive campaign to date. On the field, Vizquel and second baseman Roberto Alomar were recognized as one of the top defensive duos of all-time with both men joining a select list of eight shortstop-second baseman combinations to hold the honor of winning three consecutive Gold Gloves over the course of their three seasons together (1999-2001). During Vizquel's career in Cleveland, twice the Indians made it to the World Series, but came up short in both, losing to the Atlanta Braves in 1995 and to the Florida Marlins in 1997.
On August 5, 2001, hit a 3-run triple in the ninth inning against the Seattle Mariners to tie the game 14-14, erasing an earlier 14-2 deficit midway through the seventh inning. Vizquel and the Indians went on to win 15-14 in 11 innings. It was tied for the largest comeback in history. Vizquel continued to reach career-highs in 2002 hitting 14 homers and 72 RBI, but his success was interrupted by the need for surgery in his right knee. He tied the 2002 All-Star Game 7-7 with an RBI triple in the eighth inning. The game ended controversially after 11 innings tied 7-7. As a result his knee injury in 2002 and a follow-up operation, he appeared in only 64 games in 2003, but in one of those games on May 27, 2003, Vizquel had a straight steal of home against the Detroit Tigers. This caught Tigers pitcher Steve Avery by so much surprise that Vizquel made it home without a throw, which is extremely rare. Vizquel returned in 2004 to hit .291 in 148 games. At the end of the season, Vizquel was signed by the Giants as a free agent. As of the end of the 2007 season in an 19-year Major League career, Vizquel has a .274 lifetime batting average with 2598 hits and 380 stolen bases. His exceptional defense, together with an increased offensive output over his career has inspired an ongoing debate among observers as to whether he will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame after he retires.    
Vizquel underwent arthoscopic knee surgery on February 27, 2008. He started the 2008 season on the disabled list and played in his first game on May 10, 2008. Vizquel again stole home against Oakland Athletics pitcher, Greg Smith, on June 13, 2008.
Vizquel is also known for often fielding balls with his bare hand, causing his teammates to joke that he should be winning Gold Barehands instead of Gold Gloves. This is evident in Vizquel's 1997 Fleer Ultra baseball card, showing him holding a bowling trophy with a mannequin's hand on top.
On June 23, 2007 the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame inducted Omar Vizquel into their Hall of Fame during an on-field, pre-game ceremony before taking on the New York Yankees. He, along with former San Francisco Giants outfielder, Matty Alou, were inducted in front of over 43,000 fans.
He is the only player to have won the Hutch Award, Willie Mac Award, and Heart & Hustle Award. Only two other players, Dave Dravecky and Craig Biggio, have won more than one of these awards, although Willie McCovey himself won the Hutch Award before having the Willie Mac Award named for him.
Feud with Jose MesaEdit
A long-running and well-publicized feud erupted between Vizquel and former teammate and friend José Mesa in 2002, following the publication of Vizquel's autobiography, Omar! My Life On and Off the Field. In the book, Vizquel criticized Mesa's performance in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series: "The eyes of the world were focused on every move we made. Unfortunately, Jose's own eyes were vacant. Completely empty. Nobody home. You could almost see right through him. Not long after I looked into his vacant eyes, he blew the save and the Marlins tied the game." Mesa reacted furiously, pledging to hit Vizquel upon every subsequent opportunity: "Even my little boy told me to get him. If I face him 10 more times, I'll hit him 10 times. I want to kill him."
On June 12, 2002, Mesa made good on his promise and hit Vizquel the first time he faced him, in the ninth inning. Oddly, Mesa was not ejected and finished the game, which featured five other ejections, including both managers. They did not face each other again until 2006; by then, Vizquel was with the San Francisco Giants and Mesa was playing for the Colorado Rockies. When Vizquel came to bat against Mesa in Denver on April 22, Mesa hit him again. Meeting three more times in 2006, however, Vizquel escaped being hit by his former teammate, with two groundouts and an RBI single. In his career, Vizquel is batting .333 (7-for-21) against Mesa.
Vizquel is an avid painter and sculptor, and plays the guitar, drums and sings. He is a fan of salsa music and loves to dance. He has a son Nicholas Enrique (born September 12, 1995) with his wife Nicole. Along with his artistic pursuits, Omar also is a collector of fine art and owns several modern art pieces. Included in his collection is a glass chandelier for his home made by Seattle artist Dale Chihuly worth over $100,000.
Vizquel has a home in Issaquah, Washington. His wife Nicole and son live in Washington. Nicole is a direct descendant of Chief Seattle. Vizquel and Nicole met while in their 20s. They have an adopted daughter Caylee Rae born May 26th, 2007.
Omar is known as a "Renaissance Man" as he is very talented in many areas. He also has a love for fashion.
Omar is also active in community service, having served as an honorary spokesperson for "Young Audiences", an arts education organization in Cleveland, and "Schools Now", which raises funds through the sale of entertainment booklets. Following the 1999 Vargas mudslide disaster that killed 25,000 in his native Venezuela, Vizquel not only donated his time to the relief effort but also helped to raise over $500,000 for the cause. Vizquel also has various charitable events in downtown Cleveland such as Tribe Jam, where he and some other teammates get together with each other or with retired singers and sing some of their favorite songs.
His 2002 autobiography, Omar!: My Life on and Off the Field, which he co-wrote with Bob Dyer, spent four weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List. It was also released in paperback in 2003. The accounts in the book about the Mesa scenario continue to fuel angst and misunderstandings between Mesa and Vizquel.
In 2003 a DVD called "Catch His Magic" was released in the Cleveland Indians Official Stores. It´s a documentary of his life, his best plays and it´s also a baseball clinic where he explains his technics of how to be a master shortstop.
Vizquel is referenced in an episode of The Simpsons entitled "Bart's Friend Falls in Love". In the episode, Bart takes a distracted Milhouse's Carl Yastrzemski baseball card in exchange for one of Vizquel with the head cut out.
Baseball records and accomplishmentsEdit
- All-time leader in double-plays-made-while-playing-shortstop
- 11-time Gold Glove recipient (1993-2001, 2005-6)
- Second-highest number of Gold Gloves received by a shortstop (behind Ozzie Smith)
- Oldest shortstop recipient of the Gold Glove (ages 38 & 39)
- Highest career fielding percentage by a shortstop (0.985)
- Lowest number of errors in a season by a shortstop (tie) (3 in the 2000 season)
- Held American League record for most consecutive games without an error (95 between September 26, 1999-July 21, 2000)
- All-time leader in hits-while-playing-shortstop
- All-time leader in hits by a player from Venezuala 
- Fourth-most runs-while-playing-shortstop all-time (behind Herman Long, Derek Jeter and Bill Dahlen)
- Seventh-most stolen-bases-while-playing-shortstop all-time (behind Bert Campaneris, Ozzie Smith, Herman Long, Luis Aparicio, Honus Wagner, and Bill Dahlen)
- The 83rd major league player to reach 2500 career hits (May 6, 2007)
- Second-most hits by an active (roster) player (behind Ken Griffey, Jr.)
- Most at-bats by an active (roster) player
- American League record holder (tie) for most hits in a nine inning game (6) - Went 6-7 on August 31, 2004 in the Indians 22-0 win over the Yankees, the worst shut-out loss in league history
- All-time leader in games played at shortstop
- Most games played by an active (roster) player
- 3-time All-Star (1998, 1999 & 2002)
- Won 2 American League Championships (with Cleveland, 1995, 1997)
- Won 6 American League Central Division Championships (with Cleveland, 1995-9, 2001)
- Won the Hutch Award (1996), the only non-American player ever to do so
- Won the Willie Mac Award (2006) for spirit and leadership
- Won the Heart & Hustle Award (2007) for embodying "the values, spirit and tradition of the game"
- Captain of Venezuelan World Baseball Classic team (2006)
- Member of the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame
- List of NL Gold Glove winners at shortstop
- List of Gold Glove middle infield duos
- List of MLB players with 2,000 hits
- List of Major League Baseball players with 400 doubles
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 runs
- "Vizquel an artist at work" by Jeff Passan, Yahoo! Sports, May 24, 2006
- "Older players make final bids for Hall of Fame" by Mel Antonen, USA TODAY, July 27, 2006
- "Last call for the Hall" by Gary Kaufman, Salon.com, July 26, 2000
- "ALL SYSTEMS O!" by Bill Livingston, The Plain Dealer, September 26, 2004
- Omar Vizquel and Bob Dyer (2002). Omar!: My Life on and Off the Field. Gray & Company Publishers. ISBN 9781886228559
- Hits/runs/games-while-playing-shortstop calculated using statistics at BaseballReference.com
- "Omar Vizquel, Catch his Magic" (2003). It is an MLB product produced by Pimenton Films, Caracas, Venezuela.