Miguel Cabrera’s former teammate Jose Iglesias rushed over from his shortstop position to hug him after recording his 3,000th career hit.
He wanted to be the first to do it.
“I said ‘We did it’,” Iglesias told the Free Press of his message after the game. “Miggy has been an incredible influence in my career on and off the field, and this was a big moment for him.”
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Iglesias got to be the one to physically hand him the ball, calling it one of the coolest days of his career. But prior to the game, he admitted the two shared a moment that had a bit more anxiety.
“I couldn’t sleep last night,” Iglesias said. “(Miggy) said, ‘I couldn’t sleep last night,’ and I was like, ‘Me either, so let’s knock that out early … you better hit one.'”
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Cabrera did in fact hit one — a single to right field, before later hitting a two-run single up the middle, finishing the day 2-for-4 as the Detroit Tigers rolled the Rockies, 13-0.
“We just witnessed history,” said Tigers manager A.J. Hinch after the game. “The emotion kind of built a little bit, every at bat was just like a Game 7 of the World Series at-bat.”
And if you think Detroit was rocking on Saturday when Miguel Cabrera recorded his 3,000th hit, you should’ve heard what was going on in his hometown of Maracay, Venezuela.
And all over the country for that matter.
Streets were reportedly shutdown, hometown supporters flooding their local watering holes, hoping to see exactly what they saw — Cabrera become the 33rd player in MLB history with at least 3,000 hits.
Nobody wants to be the man to give up the history, but Rockies starting pitcher Antonio Senzatela who did give up the base knock is from Venezuela — his hometown of Valencia just 45 minutes away from Maracay.
“It’s good for him and good for Venezuela,” Senzatela said. “He’s the best Venezuelan player ever in the big leagues. When I grew up, I was watching him. When he was in the major leagues for the first time, I was 8 years old.
“Now I’m pitching here, so I’m happy for him…I just didn’t want to give up a hit.”
“For the country it’s a very important moment,” added Venezuelan reporter Daniel Álvarez-Montes during an interview with Bally Sports Detroit. “With everything that’s going on and the dictatorship … Miggy united people.
“Right now every single Venezuelan is watching this and rooting for the same guy.”
That includes a number of Rockies players and managers have ties to the Tigers superstar as well, but few have known him as long as Colorado bench coach Mike Redmond.
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Redmond was in the on-deck circle when Miguel Cabrera got his first major league hit — a two-run walk off home run to straight away centerfield against the then-Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Redmond also played in Minnesota for five years; two of those overlapped with Cabrera’s time in Detroit. On Saturday, he was in the opposing dugout for the historic moment.
“I was happy I didn’t have to go into the game,” he joked about what he remembered of Cabrera’s first hit. “But really, he came up and was a huge lift and spark for us in ’03 and helped us win the World Series.
“To have a chance to watch (hit No. 3,000), after seeing his first and playing together for two years, it was pretty cool.”
The more one breaks down Cabrera’s numbers, the more absurd they become.
He’s one of just seven players to have at least 500 home runs and 3,000 hits.
He’s one of just three to do that with at least a .300 average: Hank Aaron and Willie Mays are the others.
The list of people with 3,000 hits, multiple MVPs, multiple batting titles and a World Series is a short one: Cabrera and Stan Musial.
There aren’t many cities that get to watch such extended greatness and there are even fewer players who get to watch it up close. And those who were involved in it know what it means.
“It’s such a big deal, we don’t know when we will experience something like this again,” Iglesias said. “We might never experience it ever again.
“Regardless it’s such a great achievement for everybody, but especially for Miggy who has been through a lot of injuries in his career and played through it and I was able to play next to him for so many years … I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
Among the faces in the crowd for the historic day, former Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. Stafford told the Free Press it was “amazing” to see it in person and that he’s been a fan of Cabrera’s for going on 15 years.
“He got here in 2008, I got here in 2009 and being able to watch him do his thing from a far for so many years was special,” Stafford said. “To be able to luck out and be in the house when he gets it done and gets 3,000 is something I’ll always remember.”
Now, the debate can continue about Cabrera’s place in history. Among Venezuelans, there’s no doubt he’s the greatest. Among right-handed hitters, many believe the same.
His career .310 average is the highest for anybody to have 500 home runs and 3,000 hits. On his next double, he will have 600 of those, too.
For Iglesias, who has played in Boston, Detroit, Cincinnati, Baltimore, the LA Angels and now Colorado, nobody compares.
“Miggy is the No. 1, he’s the best hitter I’ve ever played with hands down,” he said. “He made me the player I am … he’s like a brother to me.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism