Ozzie, Oquendo to manage Futures Game
Former double-play combo to steer U.S., World teams
The fans on hand at Busch Stadium in St. Louis to watch the 11th annual XM Satellite Radio All-Star Futures Game on All-Star Sunday will get to watch 50 of baseball's top prospects in action.
And though history shows that many of those participants will soon become big leaguers, for now, most of them may be unfamiliar to the average fan.
The names of the two teams' managers, however, will be very familiar to all baseball aficionados, but particularly the hometown St. Louis fans.
Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith will be at the helm for the U.S. team, while his former Cardinals double play partner, and current Cards third base coach, Jose Oquendo, will be managing the World team.
"It's a big honor," Oquendo said Wednesday. "It's going to be an exciting week all the way around, with the All-Star Game and the Futures Game."
The announcement was made Wednesday, starting the countdown to the game, which will be played on Sunday, July 12, at 2 p.m. ET. MLB.com will provide complete coverage before, during and after the game, which can be seen live on MLB.TV, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD and followed live on MLB.com's Gameday.
Smith and Oquendo join an illustrious list of Futures Game managerial predecessors, which includes Hall of Famers George Brett, Tony Perez, Lou Brock, Goose Gossage, Juan Marichal, Paul Molitor, Luis Aparicio and Gaylord Perry.
Smith is certainly no stranger to All-Star festivities, having been named to the National League team 15 times in his career, every season from 1981 through his last year in the big leagues, 1996, with the lone exception of 1993.
Originally drafted by the San Diego Padres in the fourth round in 1977 out of Cal State Poly at San Luis Obispo, his own very brief Minor League career was spent that summer at Class A Walla Walla in the Northwest League.
By the following spring, he was the Padres starting shortstop. Within two years, in 1980, he'd win the first of what would be a record 13 Gold Gloves in a row, setting a single-season record with 621 assists.
In 1982, Smith was traded to St. Louis for fellow shortstop Garry Templeton and quickly became a legend in his new adopted city, for his defense, his speed and his trademark backflips onto the field.
Over 19 big league seasons, before he retired at the end of 1996, "The Wizard" hit a combined .262 and stole 580 bases, with 30 or more steals in a season 11 times. He enjoyed his best year offensively in 1987, when he hit .303, won the Silver Slugger for his position and finished second in the NL MVP voting.
He helped the Cards to the playoffs four times, in 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1996, the first of which resulted in a World Series title. He won NLCS MVP honors in 1985 when he hit .435, highlighted by his improbable and legendary ninth-inning walk-off home run off Dodgers reliever Tom Niedenfuer in Game 5 -- he had never homered in his previous 3,009 at-bats from the left side of the plate.
After his retirement, Smith's uniform No. 1 was retired by the Cardinals that same year. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2002, his first year of eligibility, with nearly 92 percent of the votes.
Since then, he has remained active in the St. Louis community, including launching both a youth baseball academy, Ozzie Smith's Sports Academy, and a sports bar, Ozzie's Restaurant & Sports Bar. One summer he even appeared as The Wizard in a local community opera production of "The Wizard of Oz."
While the one thing Smith does not bring to the Futures Game table is actual managerial experience, Jose Oquendo is no stranger to the unique challenge of managing a talented group of players brought together for one occasion.
In both 2006 and 2009, the Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, native managed his home country's club in the World Baseball Classic.
"That's going to help," he said. "Having been around guys with different organizations, you know how to handle the situation and get the information, especially with the pitching staff, where you need to know who's available and for how many innings."
His game plan, though, will remain pretty much the same.
"Though I will get to know more about my roster and my players, you play the game the same way," he said. "Be aggressive and depend on the situation on what you're going to do."
Oquendo is in his 10th season as the Cardinals' third base coach after serving as bench coach in 1999. Prior to that he was the club's Minor League field instructor in 1997 and managed the short-season New Jersey Cardinals in the New York-Penn League in 1998.
What Oquendo and Smith do have in common are long careers as defense-minded middle infielders, including 10 seasons together with the Cardinals, from 1986-1995.
When he joined the Cardinals from the New York Mets in 1986, Oquendo, then a shortstop, shifted to second since the shortstop job was taken. He became known as a utility infielder extraordinaire, earning the nickname "The Secret Weapon." In 1990, he set single-season big league records for highest fielding percentage (.996) and fewest errors by a second baseman (three).
His pro career spanned 17 seasons, 12 in the bigs, starting with the Mets in 1983, through his final year in 1995. A career .256 hitter, he hit .286 on the 1987 NL championship team and a career-best .291 in 1989.
The respective managers will each be joined by six-man coaching staffs comprised of some of the top Minor League managers and coaches.
- Torey Lovullo, Columbus Clipppers (AAA/Intl. League/Cleveland)
- Tony DeFrancesco, Sacramento RiverCats (AAA/Pacific Coast League/Oakland)
- Tony Franklin, Trenton Thunder (AA/Eastern League/Yankees)
- John Valentin, Chattanooga Lookouts (AA/Dodgers)
- Terry Kennedy, San Antonio Missions (AA/Texas League/Padres)
- Derek Botelho, Gwinnett Braves (AAA/Intl. League/Atlanta) - pitching coach
- Charlie Montoyo, Durham Bulls (AAA/Intl. League/Tampa)
- Edwin Rodriguez, New Orleans Zephyrs (AAA/Pacific Coast League/Florida)
- Mako Oliveras, Binghamton Mets (AA/Eastern League/Mets)
- Ever Magallanes, Birmingham Barons (AA/Southern League/White Sox)
- Luis Pujols, Corpus Christi Hooks (AA/Texas League/Astros)
- Bobby Cuellar, Rochester Red Wings (AAA/Intl. League/Minnesota) - pitching coach
Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.