CLEVELAND - Omar Vizquel gave Cleveland Indians fans 11 seasons of unbelievable play that often ended with them on their feet.
On Monday, night they stood once more as the former shortstop took to the Progressive Field pitcher's mound to deliver the first pitch. It was the culmination of a night that saw Vizquel honored with a bobblehead depicting his 11 Gold Gloves.
"I feel honored that they brought me here just to do a little bobblehead," Vizquel said of the humbling experience. "I feel very, very small for them to do that."
Vizquel got a taste of the emotions surrounding a night like this on June 24, 2008 when he returned to Progressive Field for the first time as an opposing player with the San Francisco Giants. The crowd that night greeting him with a seemingly endless ovation.
"It was very surprising, I wasn't expecting the people to stand up for a while and clap and do what they did," recalled Vizquel who said it brought tears to his eyes.
We asked Vizquel why he thought his bond with Indians fans was on a seemingly different level than other Indian greats?
"I'm not quite sure, I was one of those guys who always smiled on the field and have fun with what I did when I was playing.
"I'd go out and sign autographs before the games, so maybe that connection stayed in the atmosphere and every time that they mentioned my name," he said.
These days Vizquel has more time to devote to a passion he's had for years: painting. His artwork is on display this month at Cleveland's Convivium33 Art Gallery.
"I think painting to me is just an escape from some of the frustrating moments that I had on the baseball field," he said. "Lately, I've been doing it a lot more because I've been having a lot more time."
Like so many artists, Vizquel said it's very easy to just get lost as minutes turn into hours.
"I would say five, six hours, half a day and you're still trying to figure out what to do with these colors and this canvas."
"It's very personal what goes through your mind when you start coming out with these figures and all this stuff so yes it is a really different way to escape from baseball," he said.
Vizquel has had a number of bobbleheads so we asked him if he'd be willing to sculpt a special bobblehead if he were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame?
"Well that would be kind of cool," he said. "It would be like a whole story from everything that happened in my life, so it's going to be a really big bobblehead."