Alumni Profile - Cookie Rojas

Cookie Rojas made himself valuable to the Phillies by being willing – and able – to play almost anywhere and accept any role that the Phillies wanted to give him. By the end of his time in Philadelphia, Rojas had not only become a crowd favorite, but had played an increasingly important role on the Phillies teams of the 1960s. While Rojas made his mark more as a member of the Kansas City Royals, Phillies fans still have a soft spot for Octavio "Cookie" Rojas.

By most accounts, Cookie Rojas didn't have a lot of pure talent. He did have the intangibles though. He was able to play almost anywhere and had an attitude that made him valuable to teams he played for. By the time his playing days were over, Rojas had made the most out of his talent and finished with a good career in major league baseball.

Rojas arrived in Philadelphia after the 1962 season. It wasn't that the Phillies acquired him because they thought he was a great addition to their club, but he was simply what they could get for Jim Owens, who had worn out his welcome with manager Gene Mauch. "Sometimes you add by subtracting," said Mauch about the deal.

Upon Rojas' arrival in Philadelphia, he pretty much just found a seat on the Phillies bench during the 1963 season. He got just 77 at bats, hitting .221 for the Phillies. Somehow, Mauch saw something – probably the versatility – that Rojas had to offer and the young Cuban spent the '64 season as Mauch's golden boy off the bench. His at bats grew to over 300 and his average grew to .291 as he shifted his way from position to position. By the time Rojas days in Philadelphia were over, he had literally played at every position in a Phillies uniform, including pitching in a game during the 1967 season.

From 1965 through 1968, Rojas was basically a staple somewhere in the Phillies lineup. He played in at least 142 games in each of those seasons, including a high of 156 in 1966. In 1965, he hit a career high .303 and when his major league career ended, Rojas had amassed over 1,600 hits and a .263 average. In 1967, Rojas started a majority of Phillies games at second base, combining with shortstop Bobby Wine to form "The days of Wine and Rojas" in Philadelphia.

Unfortunately for Rojas, the 1965 season seemed to be a peek in his career. His average with the Phillies slowly declined every season after that, leading the Phillies to include Rojas in a deal with St.Louis after the 1969 season. Rojas was your basic throw-in type player in that deal that included names like Dick Allen, Curt Flood and Tim McCarver. Rojas didn't stay in St.Louis long, hitting a career low of .106 in 1970. Little did anybody know that Rojas career was about to rebound in a big way.

Kansas City would become home to Rojas and he would spend the next eight seasons as a part of the Royals. Just as in Philadelphia, Rojas found himself playing different positions, but the majority of his time was spent as the Royals starting second baseman.

When Rojas' playing days were over after the 1977 season, he delved into coaching. Eventually, he got a shot at managing the California Angels in 1988, finishing the season with a 75-79 record as a manager. Eight years later, Rojas would take over the Florida Marlins for one game, before returning to the coaching boxes.


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