Oldest Player in MLB Omar Vizquel Says Consistency, Dedication Key to Longevity

Not too many players in the history of the game have been able to say that the baseball diamond was their home for 24 years.

Omar Vizquel, 45, is one of the lucky few.

Vizquel, who in the eyes of many Venezuelan major leaguers is the second best player to come out of the country -after shortstop and Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio- is finally saying adios to the game he's forever loved.

Since flashing some leather all those years ago in his April 3, 1989 major league debut, Vizquel will quietly end his career when he exits the Toronto clubhouse Wednesday evening.

"I never thought I would be playing this game for such a long time," the possible future Hall of Famer told Fox News Latino.

"It's been a battle, a sacrifice each and every year. God has also blessed me, giving me good physical condition. I never thought I would be here."

Vizquel signed his first professional contract 23 days before his 17th birthday.

Starting his career as a rookie with the Seattle Mariners, Vizquel was with the team for five years before he moved to the Cleveland Indians in 1994, where he stayed with the organization for 11 seasons.

The slick-fielding shortstop filled highlight reels with his acrobatic plays -bare-handing choppers and firing to first.

It was moves like these that led to his 11 gold glove awards, including nine straight from 1993 to 2001.

With 16 years under his belt, he could have easily walked away after his last season with the Indians. Instead he played on for another four with the San Francisco Giants from 2005 to 2008.

"The physical condition and the desire to be out on the baseball field is what has helped me along the way," Vizquel said of getting through so many 162-game seasons. "I didn't stay around for any records. I simply felt good enough to go out there to stay in shape and play the game at a major-league level," he said.

Along the way Vizquel has touched the lives of many in the game, including his countrymen that followed him as kids growing up.

Pablo Sandoval had a giddy feeling when he first got to the majors and played alongside Vizquel in 2008. It was a dream come true.

"I'm really proud of him. Although he was my favorite player as a kid, through all of my childhood, having the opportunity to play with him in 2008, it's Venezuelan pride," Sandoval said. "Every time I was out on the field with him, I was 100 percent proud."

At the age of 42, prior to the 2009 season, Vizquel was signed by the Texas Rangers. Aside from filling in at shortstop, second, and third base, Vizquel was also mentoring a young Elvis Andrus, just 20 years of age at the time.

The young kid just tried to pick as much as he could out of the veteran, whose 2,876 hits (40th all-time list) and 2,967 games played (12th all-time list) are the most by a player from Venezuela.

"He was that mentor, that professor in my first year. I'm so happy to have played with him. He's a future Hall of Famer. He's a great friend. Any question that I have, I call him and he's always there," Andrus said.

"What he's done as a baseball player is something that you take as an example. In reality it's not easy at his age to maintain the healthy condition that he is in. As a young player, that's what you always dream of."

Vizquel spent the 2010 and 2011 seasons with the Chicago White Sox, playing for another great shortstop from his country - Ozzie Guillen.

Guillen used the words "consistency", "dedication" and "discipline" when describing what Vizquel meant to the game.

“He has love for baseball. He's a decent guy to admire," Guillen said. "Those kids that want to be baseball players, he's a person that's great to follow due to his discipline and his determination in baseball and his love and passion for a game."

"It's the reason why he's still here."

It hasn't been easy for Vizquel, who has had to be away from his family throughout all these years.

But through it all it's been that same family that's been there for the long ride that finally comes to a stop tonight.

"They are the ones that have been my main support. Each time I went through a bad moment I would talk to them. They're my main counselors. I think a family is the biggest advantage that you have in a sport that's so difficult."