#Shortstops: Rojas’ glove made it to Cooperstown
The Cuban-born Rojas, whose name “Cookie” was an anglicized version of the endearing Spanish nickname “Cuqui” given to him by his mother, starred on a big league diamond for 16 seasons before retiring after the 1977 campaign. Often recognized for his unique defensive versatility, and known for his work at second base, he had the ability to play all over the field.
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In fact, Rojas, born March 6, 1939 in Havana, is one of the few to have played all the baseball positions on a major league field during their careers. And, according to Rojas, is the first to have accomplished this uncommon feat using the same glove at each of the nine positions.
Late last year, Rojas donated his historic leather keepsake to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
After his playing career, Rojas coached with the Cubs from 1978-81, worked for the Angels for 10 years, including managing the team in 1988, was a Marlins scout and coach from 1991 until 1996, a Mets coach from 1997-2000 and a Blue Jays coach in 2001-02.
Now retired and living in Naples, Florida, Rojas’ last job in baseball was an 11 year stint (2003-12) as analyst in the Marlins Spanish television broadcasting booth.
“Coming from an island like Cuba and coming into the United States was a big step for me. I wanted to play baseball so badly no matter where,” said Rojas when asked to sum up his baseball career. “Nobody thought I was going to be able to hit, but I had great hands, a great arm, I was quick, and intelligent in the game, absorbing everything that I was taught.
“Finally, after seven years in the minor leagues I got the opportunity to play in the big leagues, to wear a big league uniform and to play against the best of the best. You can imagine what that meant to me.”
Bill Francis is the senior research and writing specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum