When I put up my talk with Ray Ratto about the 1989 Giants here last month, the bit about Jose Uribe inspired me to look up a few things about Uribe. I think the older Giants fans might like reading some of what turned up.
So, here's Jose in 1987, explaining why he changed his last name from Gonzalez: “There are a lot of Jose Gonzalez’s in the Dominican. The name Gonzalez down there, it’s like Smith in the United States.
“Two or three guys playing with me on the same team had the same name. All the time, someone would yell, ‘Hey, Gonzalez‘ and everybody’s turning around.
“The other three guys played outfield. I was the only one playing shortstop. After the games, the people, they’d be shouting at me, ‘Hey, Gonzalez, you play outfield great.’ Sometimes it was, ‘Gonzalez, you play outfield lousy.’ I was always yelling, ‘I don’t play outfield, I play shortstop.’”
“I talked to my daddy and my momma and they said I could pick whatever I want. If I wanted Uribe – that’s my father’s last name – that was fine.
“I said to them, ‘I’m going to go with Uribe. It’s shorter. People will understand it better.’ But it’s funny. For the American people, it’s hard to pronounce my last name. Some people call me ‘Yer-bee,’ some people call me ‘Oh, baby.’”
And, when Jose died in the Dominican Republic early in the morning of December 8, 2006, in a car crash, Giants president Peter Magowan said: “I was very saddened to hear the news of Jose’s passing this morning. He meant so much to the Giants during his playing days. He was such an important part of the team’s success in the late 1980s. When you saw Jose on the field, he exuded happiness and pure joy for the game and life.”
Will Clark said: “He was always happy and had a smile on his face — he found a way to make you laugh. That was a great ballclub and Jose was right in the middle of it. On a baseball team, you’re only as good as the middle, and he and Robby [Thompson] were the two rocks out there.
“He had some of the best hands you’ll ever see. He’d pick the ball and make hard plays look easy, which at Candlestick Park wasn’t easy to do. As a hitter, I think the whole time he was with the Giants, he always improved in some capacity.”