Thursday, December 31, 2009

1976 Topps #311 - Cookie Rojas

  • Cookie Rojas was signed when he was 17 years old by the Cincinnati Reds in 1956. His father wanted him to be a doctor, but Cookie decided on baseball instead. Rojas played in the minors from 1956-1962. He made his debut in April 1962 but was shuttled between Cincinnati and AAA that year. Rojas batted .221 in 86 at bats in '62. Cookie got his first major league hit off of Sandy Koufax. After the 1962 season Rojas was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for Jim Owens.
  • Rojas was mostly a pinch runner and late inning defensive replacement in 1963, hitting .221 in 77 at bats. In 1964 played six positions. He spent most of his time in center field. In 109 games Rojas batted .291. Cookie: Out of the Freezer -- August 1964 Baseball Digest
  • Although he still didn't have a regular position, Rojas made the NL All Star team in 1965 (he was 0 for 1 as a pinch hitter). He started 78 games at second base and 35 games in center field. Cooke batted .303 in 521 at bats in '65. In 1966 Rojas still split time between 2B and CF, but he played a higher proportion of his games at second. Cookie batted .268 in 626 at bats.
  • Rojas led the NL in sacrifice hits with 16 in 1967. He started 127 games at 2B and appeared at every position except 1B (he even pitched one scoreless inning). Rojas batted .259 in 528 at bats in 1967.
  • Cookie's offense started to dip in 1968. He batted .232 in 1968 and .228 in 1969. After the 1969 season Rojas was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals as part of the big Curt Flood trade. Rojas started off poorly in 1970. He was batting only .106 in 46 at bats when he was traded to the Kansas City Royals on June 13 for Fred Rico. Rojas was inserted as Kansas City's starting second baseman and his offense came back (.260 in 98 games).
  • In 1971 Rojas started a string of four straight All Star games. He batted .300 in 414 at bats in 1971 and was 14th in MVP voting. In the '71 All Star game he was 0 for 1. This Cookie Doesn't Crumble -- October 1971 Baseball Digest
  • In 1972 Cookie batted .261 in 487 at bats. Rojas hit a 2-run homer in the top of the 8th inning in the 1972 All Star Game that put the AL ahead 3-2. The NL tied the game in the 9th inning, then won it in the 10th.
  • For the first time in his career Rojas played only one position (2B) for a whole season in 1973. He batted .276 in 551 at bats and walked in his only at bat in the All Star game. Cookie Rojas--An Unheralded Star -- July 1973 Baseball Digest
  • In 1974 Cookie again played only at 2B. He batted .271 in 542 at bats and made the AL all star team but didn't play.
  • Rojas played in only 120 games in 1975. He missed a week in late May/early June. The Royals were looking at Frank White in September. Cookie batted .254 in 406 at bats. In 1976 White replaced Rojas as the starting second baseman. Cookie batted .242 in 132 at bats. Rojas played well in the 1976 ALCS, batting .333 in nine at bats while playing in four of the five games.
  • Cookie's last season was 1977. He batted .250 in 156 at bats and was 1 for 4 with a stolen base as the DH in game 4 of the ALCS. After the 1977 season Rojas was released by the Royals. He signed with the Chicago Cubs on September 1, 1978 but he didn't play in any games and was released after the season.
  • After his playing career Rojas was a coach, manager, front office guy, scout, and announcer. He managed the California Angels for most of the 1988 season. Rojas was suspended for five games during the 1999 playoffs (while a third base coach for the New York Mets) for getting into a shoving match with umpire Charlie Williams while arguing a foul ball. He is now an analyst for the Florida Marlins' Spanish language broadcasts. His son Victor is a host for MLB network.
  • Liked to face: Rudy May (.533 in 30 AB); Sammy Ellis (.467 in 30 AB); Bill Hands (.392 in 51 AB)
  • Hated to face: Danny Frisella (.000 in 10 AB); Joe Niekro (.043 in 23 AB); Cal Koonce (.103 in 29 AB)

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