Today continues our countdown to the start of Indians pitchers and catchers reporting to Goodyear, Arizona on February 20. We’ll count down the days, profiling a former Indian who wore the corresponding number. Some players will be memorable, others just our favorites and some, the only one we could find who wore that number. Today, we chronicle the career of Felix Fermin.
By Mike Brandyberry
After being acquired in what seemed to be a rather insignificant trade, Felix Fermin left the Tribe in what became one of the moves that helped define the Indians of the 1990s.
Fermin was acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates on March 25, 1989. He was the player to be named later to complete a deal originally made the previous November for a player named, Denny Gonzalez. Fermin was a young shortstop, ready to play in the big leagues but had veterans in front of him in Pittsburgh. The Pirates were building a young core to challenge in the National League and Fermin was unable to break the lineup.
With the Indians, he emerged as a starting shortstop with a solid glove and average bat. He teamed with second baseman Jerry Browne to establish a solid double play combination with the Tribe. The light-hitting shortstop led the American League in sacrifice hits in 1989 and improved his batting average each season. Nicknamed, “El Gato,” meaning The Cat, Fermin hit .256 in 1990, improving to .260 in 1991 and .270 in 1992. Despite a lack of power, Fermin was developing into a fine defensive fielder and adequate hitter.
However, with the Tribe developing a young core of its own, the Indians traded Fermin and Reggie Jefferson to the Seattle Mariners after the 1993 season. The two were traded for another young, weak hitting shortstop, Omar Vizquel.
Vizquel, who was already better defensively than Fermin, became a Gold Glove shortstop and All-Star. His offense, just like Fermin’s, slowly developed.
Fermin meanwhile, hit. 317 in the strike shortened 1994 season in Seattle, but could not break .200 in 1995 or 1996 before being released, ending his career.
Photo: Topps Baseball Cards