Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday School: Phillies History Lesson 88

Octavio "Cookie" Rojas spent seven seasons as a member of the Phillies during the 1960's. Rojas came up in the Cincinnati organization, where he notched his first Major League hit against Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax.

Acquired from the Reds in a trade for pitcher Jim "Bear" Owens after the 1962 season, Rojas helped the Phillies come out on top in that deal, as he became a productive player with Philadelphia for the rest of the decade and Owens never won a game for Cincinnati.

At the age of 24, Rojas batted .221 while playing in just 64 games in his debut season with the Phillies. By the next year, though, Rojas began contributing steadily at the plate. In 109 games played in 1964, Rojas batted .291 with 2 homers and 39 RBI.

In 1965, the righty hitting Rojas had his best season as a member of the Phillies and became an All-star as he posted a career high .303 average, .736 OPS and 78 runs scored.

Rojas was a terrific contact hitter. He struck out just 245 times in 3,104 at bats with the Phillies.

A versatile fielder, much of Rojas' value to the club was on the field. Initially during his time with the Phillies, Rojas was a jack of all trades. The native Cuban played every single position except pitcher while serving his duty as utility master from 1963-1966. However, in 1967, Rojas landed a steady gig at second base for the Phils, although he did pitch one inning that season, completing his tour of the baseball field.

In the four seasons that followed Rojas' 1965 All-star bid with the Phillies, his offensive production cooled down and his batting averaged dropped each year, dropping down to .228 in 1969.

After the 1969 season, Rojas was dealt along with Richie Allen to the Cardinals in the ill-fated Curt Flood trade.

In 1970, Rojas was traded again and landed with the new MLB club in Kansas City. As a member of the Royals, Rojas made four consecutive All-star teams. In fact, he hit a pinch homer in the 1972 game to become the first non-American born player to smack a HR in the All-star Game for the American League.

After retiring from playing in 1978, Rojas coached with various teams and managed the California Angels for a full season in 1988. He also managed the Florida Marlins for one game in 1996 and was the acting manager for 3 games with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2001.

These days, Cookie Rojas works as a Spanish language broadcaster for the Florida Marlins.


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