Jays Miscellanea looks back at a bunch of people you may or may not recall who played for the Toronto Blue Jays. Let’s remember some guys!


Today is a good day, because I get to write and you get to read about Luis Sojo. Unless you were really tuned in to the minutiae of Yankees baseball circa 1996-2001, you can be forgiven for not knowing the name of this relatively obscure middle infielder who spent the majority of his career coming off the bench. But the story of baseball in the 1990s is not complete without Sojo.


There have been several Forest Gump-type players who seem to end up all over the baseball map with different teams in different postseasons, finding themselves in pivotal moments; Lonnie Smith comes to mind immediately, as do many of the 1997 Florida Marlins. Luis Sojo is certainly in this conversation as well.


Signed by the Blue Jays as an amateur free agent in 1986, he made his big league debut with the Jays in 1990 and would subsequently be part of two pivotal Toronto trades. Sojo, Junior Felix, and minor leaguer Ken Rivers were shipped to the Angels before the 1991 season for three players, one of whom was (1997 Marlin) Devon White. Before the 1993 season, Sojo was traded back to Toronto in exchange for Kelly Gruber, where he appeared in only 19 games for the World Series champion Blue Jays and was left off of the playoff roster. Sojo was then signed as a free agent by the Seattle Mariners, and in 1995, he starred in a moment that may well have saved baseball in Seattle.


Sojo was more-or-less a regular in 1995, and he slashed a respectable .289/.335/.416. So when the season came down to a tie-breaking game against the California Angels at the Kingdome in Seattle, Sojo found himself at shortstop, batting second behind Vince Coleman and ahead of Ken Griffey, Jr. No presh. Randy Johnson and Mark Langston were locked in a tense pitchers’ duel, with the Mariners clinging to a one-run lead entering the bottom of the 7th. They loaded the bases with two outs as Sojo dug in against Langston. He ripped a double down the right field line, which became a little league grand slam after a throwing error by Langston allowed Sojo to score. The game was blown open and the Mariners cruised to a 9-1 victory, setting up one of the greatest playoff series ever against the Yankees, and then an eventual ALCS loss to Cleveland. In the story of the Seattle Mariners, Sojo’s double is the coup de théâtre around which the fate of the franchise hung in the balance, arguably as important as Edgar’s double and Griffey’s mad dash. The following season, Sojo was claimed off waivers by the Yankees, with whom he won four World Series titles over the next six seasons (with a brief sojourn to Pittsburgh for the first half of the 2000 season) as a dependable veteran middle infielder coming off the bench.


Oh, and that fourth World Series title in 2000? Sojo got the series-winning hit. Entering the 9th locked in a 2-2 tie against the Mets at Shea Stadium, Sojo stepped to the plate with 2 on and 2 out against (1997 Marlin) Al Leiter. Leiter had started the game, and was still going strong with an obscene pitch count of 141. Sojo sent pitch 142 back up the middle, past the lunge of (1997 Marlin) Kurt Abbott, scoring two and sending the Yankees to their third World Series title in a row.


Sojo was out of baseball in 2002, but returned to the Yankees for a victory lap in 2003, losing to the Marlins in the World Series. A fun quirk pointed out by Tyler Kepner in his excellent book “The Grandest Stage,” Sojo rejoined the Yankees in 2003 after his year off, during which he had participated in a Yankees Old-Timers’ Game. Sojo may well be the only person to play a full season of major league baseball after officially being deemed an “Old Timer” by his club.


Luis Sojo’s Gumpian trek through the major leagues is so fascinating, and it all started in Toronto. We Blue Jays fans absolutely love scrappy bench players. We never cared how poorly Derek Bell, John McDonald, or Ryan Goins hit, we just loved seeing them work hard. It’s well past time Luis Sojo joined these ranks in our hearts. A light-hitting, good-fielding, well-liked, and very amiable player his entire career, we’re lucky he occupies even a small part of the tapestry of Blue Jays baseball.