Card-by-Yankees Card: The 1977 Topps Set, Card #81, Juan Beniquez (Article 18)
Juan Beniquez is one of those players who time has basically forgotten.
Do you think you know or remember Juan Beniquez the Major League player? If so, take this two question quiz:
How many big league seasons did he play?
How many games did he play in?
If you said, 17 seasons, you were correct
If you said, 1,500 games, you’d also be correct.
Juan Beniquez was a big league player for a long, long time.
Think Brett Gardner has been around a while? He hasn’t played in as many games as Juan Beniquez. (Gardy has played one fewer game at 1,499.) Let’s list some other Yankees-centric players with long careers who played fewer games than Juan Beniquez:
Lee Mazzili (14 years) – 1,475 games
Jay Buhner (15 years) – 1,472 games
Mickey Rivers (15 years) – 1,468 games
Roger Maris (12 years) – 1,463 games
Earle Combs (12 years) – 1,455 games
The list goes on and on and on…
The first thing that a long career and lots of games played indicates is that the player had to be pretty good.
And Juan Beniquez was pretty good.
He played from 1971 to 1988. Juan Beniquez played for the Red Sox, Rangers, Yankees, Mariners, Angels, Orioles, Royals, and Blue Jays. For his career, he hit .274/.327/.379.
Juan Beniquez played mostly as an outfielder, but he did appear at every position on the diamond except pitcher and catcher. In 1977, he won a Gold Glove. He played 68 games at first base, 49 games at third base, 43 games at shortstop…
And one game at second base.
Actually, just one inning at second base.
Beniquez played in 1,500 games over 17 seasons, but played second base in only one game – for only one inning.
That game was played on August 25, 1976. At the time, Juan Beniquez was a Texas Ranger. He was, in fact, their starting center fielder. But on that August day, for the top of the ninth inning in a game the Rangers would lose 5-1, Juan Beniquez played second base. In that inning, he made a putout (on a sacrifice bunt) and an error (on a foul pop-up). The error didn’t hurt – he muffed the pop-up, but the batter, George Scott, struck out anyway.
Juan Beniquez was a Yankee in 1979. He was acquired by the Yankees (from the Texas Rangers) in a multi-player trade for Sparky Lyle. The Yankees also acquired minor leaguer Dave Righetti in that deal.
After the 1979 season, the Yankees sent Beniquez to the Seattle Mariners in the trade that brought them Ruppert Jones.
As a Yankee, Juan Beniquez batted .254/4/17 in 62 games. He appeared in all three outfield positions, and once played three innings at third base as a Yankee (June 3 – he was actually the starting third baseman that day, Graig Nettles eventually replaced him in the game). As a Yankee, Juan Beniquez never made an error. His fielding record in pinstripes was perfect.
Late in his career, Beniquez had four consecutive .300 seasons (1983-1986).
In 1986, while playing for the Orioles, in a game against the Yankees, Juan Beniquez blasted three home runs in one game. Three! (He hit only six all season that year.) All three home runs were solo shots and the Yankees won the game 7-5.