Two of the greatest players of their generation and maybe the all time very best at their positions are Ozzie Smith and Robbie Alomar. Both won ten or more gold gloves, were on ten or more All Star teams, World Championship teams and both knew how to win.
I spent some time with Ozzie on my ESPN Deportes 1050 radio show right after the Hall of Fame announced the players that are eligible this January.
I have known “The Wizard of Oz” for most of his career. We got to know each other through our mutual friend Joe OKs, the owner of Portabella, the men’s clothing store to the baseball stars, and for our shared admiration of George Steinbrenner. Ozzie understood the Boss’s contributions to the game and became a fan because of it. One thing I love about Ozzie is the fact that he really understands all the little idiosyncrasies about baseball and also understands why the game is so important to our society.
I asked Ozzie who he would vote for if he had one vote. He quickly responded by saying,” Omar Vizquel. Omar was a magician with the glove, he was the best that I ever saw.” I asked Ozzie if that included himself and Ozzie laughed and said, “No comment.” I told him that I would let him off the hook. Ozzie also added that if you look at Omar’s stats, his numbers compare to most shortstops in the Hall of Fame.
After the Wizard, Roberto Alomar came on the show.
I have known Robbie since he was seven years old. We are literally like brothers and extremely honest with each other about everything and anything. He is one of my sons godfather.
The first question I asked Robbie was if he had a vote for the hall of fame would you vote for Vizqual. He said, “No question about it, Omar was the best short stop that I have ever played with. Omar made me better and I like to think that I helped make him better. Every night in Cleveland it felt like the people were waiting for Omar and Me to put on a show.”
Robbie said, “Omar was an extremely good teammate. If someone would ever have something bad to say about Omar then I would really have to question that person. That’s how good a person he is.” At that point, I said to Robbie, “So your saying that he was better than Ripken?” Robbie laughed and said, “Apples and oranges.” “Ozzie and Omar were the two best I’ve seen defensively and Ripken and ARod were two of the best offensively.” Robbie added that Omar became a terrific hitter right before his eyes.
Whatever happens at the announcements for the Hall of Fame next month, I just hope that the voting committee gets this one right because besides being more than worthy, the three new letters (HOF) after his name will make him one of baseballs great ambassadors. But then again knowing Omar, I know that he already is.
This Saturday you can listen to Omar Vizquel at 12pm on ESPN 1050am IMPACT!