NEW YORK – The St. Louis Cardinals have had “The Secret Weapon” leading runners around the basepaths for most of the 21st century. But it wasn’t until Wednesday that José Oquendo made his season coaching debut at third base.
Oquendo has served several roles in the Cardinals organization for decades, but is no longer the team’s regular third base coach. For Wednesday and Thursday’s road games against the New York Mets, he is filling in for Pop Warner, who took time off to attend his son’s high school graduation, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Derrick Goold.
Oquendo most recently served as the Cardinals’ third base coach in 2018. Prior to his knee surgery in 2016, he enjoyed a 16-year run at the role and coached two World Series champion teams. Right now, Oquendo primarily works with Cardinals minor leaguers as a coordinator of instruction.
Many Cardinals fans remember Oquendo for his defensive versatility. In 1988, his third of 10 seasons he played in St. Louis, he played all nine positions in one game. According to Baseball Almanac, Oquendo is one of only 15 players to ever accomplish this feat in MLB history and the only player to ever do so wearing the Birds on the Bat.
Oquendo’s return was a welcome sight Wednesday for many Cardinals fans on Twitter. Unlike most of his days as a player and a coach, he sported No. 91.