Called the Cardinals' "Secret Weapon" for his ability to play any infield or outfield position, Oquendo was the Mets' regular shortstop in 1983. He was a fine fielder, but New York despaired of ever seeing him become an adequate hitter. With the Cardinals, he became a reliable, switch-hitting .270-.280 singles hitter and batted .385 as a pinch hitter in 1987.
In 1988 he lost his "super-sub" status in mid-season when he took over the regular second-base job, but he did pitch in relief once, earning the first decision (a loss) in the majors by a non-pitcher in twenty years. He also caught a game, becoming the first National Leaguer to play all nine positions in a season.
Playing alongside defensive whiz Ozzie Smith, Oquendo led the NL in fielding percentage in 1989 and '90. Two injury-plagued seasons cost him his starting job, and he retired not long after. (FJO)
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FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY
»May 14, 1988: IF Jose Oquendo becomes the first nonpitcher in 20 years to get a ML decision in the Cardinals' 7–5, 19-inning loss to the Braves. St. Louis had used seven pitchers when Oquendo was brought in to pitch the 16th inning. He shut out the Braves for three innings before surrendering the game-winning two runs.