CLEVELAND — Omar Vizquel was one of many dignified attendees at Tribe Fest, a weekend-long event at Progressive Field in which fans got to interact with current and former Indians players.
That was fitting because Vizquel, one of the most popular players in Cleveland baseball history, will be inducted into the Indians’ Hall of Fame this season.
“It’s a great piece of history for me that I get to be inducted in the Hall of Fame,” Vizquel said, “especially here, where people relate to me as an Indian. When they talk about Omar Vizquel, they always relate the Indians with it. I played in Seattle for five years and I played with the Giants for four years, but I played 11 years here.
“This is where I really established myself. I’m so happy that it happened here with the Indians.”
Vizquel, 46, spent 11 of his 24 big league seasons in Cleveland (1994-2004), where he developed into one of the game’s best defensive shortstops. He was an 11-time Gold Glove winner — eight with the Indians — and a three-time All-Star (twice with Cleveland).
Vizquel, who was hired this offseason as Detroit’s first base coach, will be inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame when the Tigers visit Progressive Field on June 21.
He joined Jim Thome and Charles Nagy at Tribe Fest as representatives from the franchise’s glory days from 1994-2001. Vizquel and longtime teammate Thome will become eligible for Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2018.
“I never really pictured myself as a Hall of Famer,” Vizquel said. “I really have some great numbers out there, and if people can recognize that and put me in that spot, it’d be amazing. Obviously, just being in the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame is a little step that they can recognize, and maybe someday they can vote for me.”