Former Mariners and White Sox second baseman Julio Cruz passed away this week, per an announcement from the Mariners. Cruz, who followed a 10-year playing career with a lengthy career as a Spanish-language broadcaster for the Mariners, was 67 years of age. His family said via a statement that he “passed away peacefully” at home yesterday while “surrounded by his loving family.”
“The Seattle Mariners were saddened to learn of the passing of former Mariners second baseman and current broadcaster Julio Cruz,” the team said in its own statement announcing Cruz’s passing. “Our thoughts and sympathies are with his loved ones, including his wife, Mojgan, three sons, Austin, Alexander and Jourdan, and their families.”
A member of the Mariners’ inaugural roster in 1977, Cruz hit .256/.336/.296 as a rookie that season before stepping up and solidifying himself as a regular in 1978. While power was never his calling card, Cruz averaged 50 stolen bases per year from 1978-83, swiping bags at an outstanding 83.5% success rate along the way. He was the Mariners’ all-time leader in steals prior to being overtaken by future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki, and Cruz still ranks second all-time in franchise history in that regard.
Traded to the White Sox in a 1983 deal that sent fellow second baseman Tony Bernazard back to Seattle, Cruz went on to spend parts of four seasons with the South Siders, for whom he swiped another 53 bags in 72 tries. All told, Cruz logged 1156 games in the Majors over a decade-long career and batted .237/.321/.299 with 23 home runs, 113 doubles, 27 triples, 343 stolen bases, 557 runs scored and 279 runs knocked in. He went 4-for-12 with a pair of steals for the ChiSox in their 1983 ALCS loss to the Orioles — his only postseason experience over that ten-year stretch in the big leagues.
“The ’Cruzer’ was the catalyst of that 1983 Western Division championship team,” White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement today. “When Roland Hemond acquired him that summer, the team just took off. Julio became our igniter, and his positive energy was contagious in the clubhouse, in the dugout and on the field. Sox fans will always remember him dashing across home plate with the division-clinching run. The White Sox organization sends its heartfelt condolences to Julio’s family and many friends.”
Cruz’s final pro season came back in 1988, but he ultimately returned to the Mariners in 2003, joining their Spanish-language broadcast team — a role he held up through the 2021 season. He also took pride in charitable work in Seattle, as the Mariners further noted in their statement on his passing:
“Cruz remained deeply involved in youth baseball and other community causes, including Toys for Kids, and breast & prostate cancer awareness. In 2016, he was recognized as the Mariners’ first-ever SEAT 21 honoree. SEAT 21 was created by Major League Baseball to recognize community members who embody Roberto Clemente’s humanitarian spirit.”
We at MLB Trade Rumors offer condolences to the friends, family, loved ones and fans of Cruz, as well as to both the Mariners and White Sox organizations as they mourn his loss.