José Cruz Dilan (born August 8, 1947) is a former Major League Baseball outfielder. He is also the former first base coach for the Houston Astros. During his 19-year baseball career (1970–1988), he played for three teams, primarily for the Astros. He is a member of one of Puerto Rico's most famous Major League families and is the brother of former Major Leaguers Héctor Cruz and Tommy Cruz.
Cruz in 2014
|Born: August 8, 1947|
Arroyo, Puerto Rico
|September 19, 1970, for the St. Louis Cardinals|
|Last MLB appearance|
|July 19, 1988, for the New York Yankees|
|Runs batted in||1,077|
|Career highlights and awards|
Cruz is nicknamed "Cheo," and many baseball fans refer to him as Cheo Cruz. He and his wife, Zoraida, make their home in Houston. They have four children: José Javier, Shakira, José Jr., also a former Major League outfielder, and José Enrique Cruz, a former Minor League infielder.
Cruz debuted with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1970. His four-year stay in St. Louis was unremarkable, but Cruz's career got a reboot in 1975 when he was traded to the Houston Astros. After the Astros posted an 81–81 record in 1974, the team traded first baseman Lee May to the Baltimore Orioles, which allowed Astros left fielder Bob Watson to move the first base, opening the left field position to Cruz or teammate Greg Gross. By 1976, Cruz had secured the left field spot. During his playing days, Cruz was arguably the most famous baseball player (not counting the late Roberto Clemente) in Puerto Rico.
Cruz signed as a free agent with the New York Yankees in 1988, retiring at the end of the season. He had a total of 165 home runs and 1,077 RBI during his career, while hitting for a .284 batting average.
|José Cruz's number 25 was retired by the Houston Astros in 1992.|
Cruz has been involved with all but one of the Astros' 11 postseason appearances, three as a player (1980, 1981 and 1986); six as a coach (1997–1999, 2001, 2004–2005); and two as special assistant to the general manager (2015 and 2017). As a player in the postseason, he hit .400 in the five-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1980 NLCS. Cruz represented the Astros in the MLB All-Star Game in 1980 in Los Angeles and 1985 in Minnesota. He finished third in NL MVP voting in 1980, sixth in 1983, and eighth in 1984. He won the NL Silver Slugger Award as an outfielder in 1983 and 1984. In 1983, Cruz led the NL in hits with 189.
Cruz had played in more games than any other player in the history of the Houston franchise (1,870) before being passed by Craig Biggio in 2001. In 2000, Cruz coached from first base as Biggio surpassed many of his other long-standing franchise records, including at-bats, hits, and total bases. His 80 triples remains an Astros' record, as does his 6 career walk-off home runs. His last home run, on July 17, 1988, was a pinch-hit grand slam against the Chicago White Sox in a 7–4 loss.
On October 3, 1992, Cruz was honored by the Astros when the team retired his number 25; Cruz's former teammate Mike Scott had his number 33 retired at the same time. In 1999, Cruz was selected by a panel of experts as one of three outfielders on the All-Astrodome team. In 2003, he was inducted into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame. In 2005, he agreed to coach for the team representing Puerto Rico in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, which was managed by José Oquendo, and included his own son, José Cruz, Jr.
After retiring from baseball, Cruz managed in both the Texas–Louisiana League and the Puerto Rican Winter League before returning as first base coach for the Astros from 1997-2009. He is now a special assistant to the team.
Jose Cruz was inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame on September 13, 2002, in pregame, on-field ceremony at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
| National League Player of the Month
| Houston Astros first base coach