Today former Giants shortstop Jose Uribe passed away at the untimely age of 47, following a car accident in his native Dominican Republic.
I have memories of Uribe from my childhood, even though he played for the hated Giants. He was beloved by the San Francisco fans for his bubbly personality and his unusual last name. I can still remember how whenever he came up, the old Candlestick crowd used to go into a frenzy, shouting YUUUUUUUU-RIBE! over and over while he was at bat, until he eventually and inevitably struck out to end the rally.
Uribe was an exceedingly mediocre shortstop, posting a career average of .241 with only 19 home runs in parts of 10 major league seasons. He was a fixture in the eight spot in the lineup, and his career OPS came out to an astonishingly low .614. Still, Uribe was good enough to beat out the even more pathetic Johnnie LeMaster to be the shortstop on the Giants’ All-80′s team which was announced a few years back.
A funny story about Uribe was when he was first acquired by the Giants as the ”player to be named later” in a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. In between the time the trade was made and the time he was announced as the player to be named, the then “Jose Gonzalez” legally changed his name to “Jose Uribe”, and thus actually was “named later” as the joke went. Thenceforth, he was often jokingly known as Jose “Named Later” Uribe.
When asked why he changed his name, Uribe said it was because he wanted to stand out and make his mark, but to do so he needed a new name, since “There are too many Gonzalezes in baseball!”
He was right. There are many, many Gonzalezes in baseball, but there will only ever have been one Jose Uribe.