Omar Vizquel will now wear the uniform of the division-rival Detroit Tigers as their first-base coach, but for at least one more day, the former Indians shortstop will belong to Cleveland again.
That day is June 21, when one of the most beloved players who helped to lead the Indians to appearances in the 1995 and 1997 World Series, will be inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame.
In addition, longtime TV broadcaster Jimmy Dudley will also be inducted posthumously into the Indians Distinguished Hall of Fame for non-uniformed personnel.
Of the 1,700-plus players to have worn a Cleveland uniform since 1901, Vizquel will become just the 40th member of the hall this summer when he’s honored in a ceremony before a game against the Tigers. Vizquel’s legacy in Cleveland will continue with a permanent place in Heritage Park, behind the center-field wall at Progressive Field.
“I never thought that I could belong to a prestigious group of players that have given everything to the city of Cleveland in an Indians uniform,” Vizquel said in a news release. “My priority always was the game and to enjoy it as much as possible. I’m honored by this and to have had the chance to play for the Indians.”
Vizquel is the all-time leader in fielding percentage for shortstop (.985), double plays turned (1,735) and games played at the position (2,709). He won 11 Gold Glove awards (nine in a row from 1993-2001, and 2005- 2006), and is the oldest shortstop to win the award (at 39). He also made three American League All-Star teams (1998, 1999, 2002).
“Omar was a transcendent player and one of the best of all time at his position,” Indians Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Bob DiBiasio said in a news release. “He was a big part of one of our organization’s most successful periods, and we’re excited for him to join the Indians Hall of Fame.”
Vizquel helped the club win two American League Championships (1995, 1997) and six American League Central Division championships 1995-1999, 2001. In 1999, he hit .333 and scored 112 runs to help the Tribe score a league-leading 1,009 runs, the most productive lineup in Indians history.
Before joining the Tigers in November, Vizquel served as a co-infield coach for the Los Angeles Angels last season.
The Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame was established in 1951. Players who spent at least three seasons with the club and have been retired for at least one year are eligible.
Dudley, an Indians TV broadcaster from 1948-1967, is a member of the broadcasters’ wing of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. A native of Alexandria, Va., Dudley played baseball, football and basketball at the University of Virginia. He first did play-by-play for the Chicago Cubs, then after serving in World War II, joined the Indians during the team’s World Series season of 1948.
Dudley, who died in 1989, also broadcast football for the Browns and Baltimore Colts, along with Ohio State. Other Indians Distinguished Hall of Fame members include owners Bill Veeck and Dick Jacobs, GM/Super Scout Cy Slapnicka, GM John Hart, athletic trainer Jim Warfield and longtime broadcaster Jack Graney.