Cruz debuted with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1970. It was as a member of the Houston Astros, however, that he became a household name across Puerto Rico and the United States. During his playing days, he was arguably the most famous baseball player (not counting the late Roberto Clemente) in Puerto Rico.
|José Cruz’s number 25 was retired by the Houston Astros in 1992.|
Cruz has been involved with all nine of Houstons postseason appearances, three as a player (1980, 81 and 86) and six as a coach (1997–99, 01, 04-05). As a player in the poststeason, he hit .400 in the dramatic five-game series against Philadelphia in the 1980 NLCS. Cruz represented the Astros in the MLB All-Star Game in 1980 at Los Angeles, and 1985 at Minnesota. He finished 3rd in NL MVP voting in 1980 and 8th in 1984. He won the NL Silver Slugger award as an outfielder in 1983 and 1984.
Cruz had played in more games than any other player in the history of the Houston franchise (1,870) before being passed by Craig Biggio in 2001. In 2000, Cruz coached from first base as Biggio surpassed many of his other long-standing franchise records, including at-bats, hits and total bases. His 80 triples remains an Astros’ record as does his 6 career walk-off home runs. His last home run, on July 17, 1988, was a pinch-hit grand slam against the Chicago White Sox in a 7–4 loss.
On October 3, 1992, Cruz was honored by the Astros, when the team retired his number, #25 along with former teammate Mike Scott (baseball) when the team retired his number, #33. In 1999, Cruz was selected by a panel of experts as one of three outfielders on the All-Astrodome team. In 2003, he was inducted into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame. In 2005, he agreed to coach for the team representing Puerto Rico in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, which was managed by José Oquendo, and included his own son, José Cruz, Jr.
After retiring from baseball Cruz managed in both the Texas-Louisiana League and the Puerto Rican Winter League before returning as a coach to the Astros. He is now a special assistant to the team.
Jose Cruz was inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame on September 13, 2002 in pregame on field ceremony at Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas.
Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday salutes …Jose Cruz
|September 19, 1970 for the St. Louis Cardinals|
|Last MLB appearance|
|July 19, 1988 for the New York Yankees|
|Runs batted in||1,077|
|Career highlights and awards|