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1996 Yankees 20th Anniversary Retrospective: Luis Sojo

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Every team needs a utility infielder.

Harry How/Getty Images

Background

The Toronto Blue Jays signed Luis Sojo as a international amateur free agent out of Venezuela in 1986. In the minor leagues, he never walked a whole lot, or showed much power, but did put up some decently high batting averages. Sojo made his major league debut on July 14, 1990, singling and driving home a run after being sent in as a defensive replacement.

Sojo was part of a six-player trade that sent him to the Angels after the 1990 season. He played two seasons with the then California Angels, before being traded back to Toronto after the 1992 season. He played just 19 games for Toronto in 1993, but did come away with a ring, as the Blue Jays won the World Series. He became a free agent after the '93 season and signed with the Seattle Mariners. Sojo had his career best year with Seattle in 1995, smacking a key bases-clearing double in the AL West playoff against the Angels and helping that Mariners' team eliminate the Yankees. He followed that up by hitting just .220/.250/.272 in '96, and the Mariners placed him on waivers.

1996 Performance

Results: 18 G, .275/.286/.325, 2 2B, 54 OPS+

The Yankees picked up Sojo off waivers on August 22, 1996. He played just 18 regular season games for the Yankees that year, but picked up 11 hits in 40 at bats, and made the postseason roster.

Sojo was used mostly as a defensive replacement and pinch-runner in the postseason. He did get the start in the ALCS-clinching Game Five win over the Orioles. Sojo had five at bats in the World Series, going 3-for-5. He also played the final six innings of Game Six at second base, as the Yankees defeated the Braves to win the World Series.

What did he do after?

Sojo re=signed with the Yankees after the '96 season and remained a solid utility infielder for the team for the next couple seasons. He did hit .307 for the Yankees in '97, but received just 215 at bats in 77 games. Sojo was part of the '98 and '99 teams, winning his third and fourth World Series rings.

After the 1999 season, Sojo left the Yankees and signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a free agent. He played in 61 games for Pittsburgh, but the Yankees re-acquired him on August 7, 2000, trading minor league pitcher Chris Spurling for him. Sojo hit decently well for a utility infielder down the stretch in 2000, but his best moment in pinstripes came in the playoffs that year.

Game Five of the 2000 World Series was tied at two heading into the top of the ninth inning. After Al Leiter struck out Tino Martinez and Paul O'Neill, Jorge Posada kept the inning alive with a walk. Scott Brosius followed that with a single, moving Posada into scoring position. That brought Sojo to the plate. This happened:

That hit gave the Yankees their third straight World Series win and got Sojo a fifth ring.

Sojo was released after that season, but ended up re-signing with the team for the 2001 season. He didn't make the roster in 2002 and retired, taking over as manager of the Norwich Navigators. He went on to lead the Yankees Double-A affiliate to a Eastern League championship in 2002.

Sojo was invited to Old-Timers' Day in 2003 and hit a home run off Ron Guidry. Later in the 2003 season, the Yankees re-signed him as an active player, amusingly making him the first player to ever appear in both an Old-Timers' Day game and a real MLB game in the same season. Sojo made three appearances in 2003 and then retired for good. Since then, he has held various coaching positions in the Yankees' organization. Sojo has also been the manager of the Venezuela team at all three World Baseball Classics.

Luis Sojo was not exactly an integral member of the 1996 Yankees, but the man has five World Series rings and a World Series-winning hit. He deserves his status as a Yankees cult hero.