Julio Cruz: A Baseball Life

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The baseball world was saddened by the passing of former Mariner and White Sox second baseman Julio Cruz. Cruz, nicknamed “Juice,” died on Tuesday of cancer at the age of 67. His career as a player spanned a total of 10 years and had a respectable career. Cruz was a solid defensive second baseman, as well as an excellent base stealer. While he may not have been intimidating at the plate, he was a competitor, as well as a good teammate.

Julio Cruz On the Field

Cruz began his MLB career with the Seattle Mariners in 1977, playing in 60 games. He slashed .256/.336/.296 and stole 15 bases in his rookie season. He played with the Mariners for six full seasons, His best season was in 1979 when he slashed .271/.363/.326. He also stole 49 bases in just 107 games. Overall, with the Mariners, Cruz had 290 stolen bases in his six-plus years and hit .243. His OPS with the Mariners was .634. He stole 40 bases in five consecutive seasons with the Mariners.

In June of 1983, the Mariners traded Cruz to the White Sox, who were seeking an upgrade at second base. Cruz provided a spark for the South Siders and helped the White Sox to a 99-63 record and an American League Central Division title. He stole 24 bases and played solid defense for the Sox, and also scored the winning run in the game that clinched the Sox’ first playoff berth in the divisional era. He would go on to play three more seasons with the White sox, retiring after the 1986 season.

Overall, Julio Cruz finished his 10-year career with a slash line of .237/.321/.299. While he did not rack up huge offensive numbers, Cruz managed to steal 343 bases in 10 seasons. He averaged over 34 steals a season. He also ended his career with a fielding percentage of .983, another solid number. Cruz was a solid contributor defensively and as a base runner for both the Mariners and White Sox.

Julio Cruz In the Booth

In 2003, Cruz began a new career as a Spanish language broadcaster for the Mariners. He spent 19 years in the booth, broadcasting through the 2021 season. Thus, Cruz was able to finish his baseball career in the city where it began. Julio Cruz came full circle, and will always be remembered fondly by Seattle Mariners fans everywhere.

Julio Cruz, the Man

Julio Cruz was as good a person as he was a player. His White Sox manager in 1983, remarked that “He had electric ability as a player but was such a big part of those teams because of his personality. He was a caring guy and because of that had an emotional connection with his teammates on and off the field. Most of us had kept in pretty regular contact with him over the years, but this is a very sad day. He was much too young to leave us, and he will be missed.” Former Sox teammate recalled Cruz’s energy: “Any thoughts about Julio are more about the person than the ballplayer. He was a great friend who ignited our team in 1983.

Former Mariner teammate Bill Caudill stated that “He was always positive, always upbeat. Never had a negative thing to say about anybody, but always uplifted your day. He was just that type of guy.” Finally, his connection to the Mariners was highlighted by special assistant Randy Adamack. He noted that “Julio chose to make his home and raise his family here. He’s been closely associated with our club for over 25 years, one of the longest relationships of any player in our history.” By all accounts, Julio Cruz was an energetic, caring player who endeared himself to teammates and fans alike. Indeed, he will be missed by many in the baseball world. RIP, Juice.

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main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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Mike Fisk is a lifelong baseball fan. For him, there is nothing like being at a baseball game, with the sights, the sounds, the smells. Writing about baseball is a bonus!