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Luis Emilio Gonzalez (born September 3, 1967 in Tampa, Floridamarker), nicknamed "Gonzo" , is a former Major League Baseball outfielder. A Cuban-American, Gonzalez spent his best years with the Arizona Diamondbacks and was one of the most popular players in that organization's history. He is a native of Tampamarker, Floridamarker, but he and his family (which includes wife Christine and triplets Megan, Jacob and Alyssa) are residents of Scottsdalemarker, Arizonamarker.

Professional career

Gonzalez graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in Tampamarker, Floridamarker in 1985, and attended the University of South Alabamamarker. He earned Baseball America's All-Freshman Second Team honors while there. He was drafted by the Houston Astros in the fourth round of the 1988 amateur draft. Gonzales played American Legion Baseball for Post 248. Post 248 other alumni include Lou Pinella; Tony LaRussa; Constantino "Tino" Martinez and Gary Sheffield.

Between 1990–1998, Gonzalez was an average hitter and was not putting up the kind of power numbers expected of a corner outfielder. His best year during that period was , when his batting average was .300, with 162 hits, including 34 doubles and 15 home runs.

Arizona Diamondbacks

It was in Arizonamarker that Gonzalez became a star. He helped the Diamondbacks into title contention immediately, hitting a career-best .336 in , leading the NL in hits with 206 and helping them win the National League's western division that season before the team fell to the New York Mets in a divisional playoff series. He was selected to his first All-Star Team in 1999. In , the Diamondbacks came in third place in their division. He also blasted 31 home runs and cracked 192 hits.

In , Gonzalez astonished many when he hit 57 home runs, his personal best for one season and almost twice as many as he hit in any other season. The total is the third most in National League history for a left-handed batter (behind Barry Bonds's record 73, which also came in 2001, and Ryan Howard, who hit 58 in ). Gonzalez was selected to his second All-Star Team and finished second in the NL in hits with 198. Gonzalez also won the Home Run Derby that year. He has been suspected of using steroids that season.

The Diamondbacks reached the World Series that year. In the climactic moment, Gonzalez came to the plate in the bottom of the 9th inning of game 7, with the game at a 2–2 tie, the bases loaded and 1 out. The Yankee pitcher was Mariano Rivera, one of the game's most feared closers with an especially good record in the postseason. Gonzalez swung at Rivera's 0-1 pitch and hit a bloop single into left field that won the World Series for Arizona.

He was also selected to All-Star Teams in and . During the 2002 season, Gonzalez received publicity as a piece of gum chewed by Gonzalez during a spring training game was sold for $10,000 on April 15, 2002. The buyer was Curt Mueller, owner of Mueller Sports Medicine Inc., manufacturer of the gum, Quench.

On May 22, , Gonzalez got his 2,000th career hit in a game against the Florida Marlins. In , he was selected to his fifth All-Star Team. On April 18, 2006, he got his 500th career double, becoming the 20th player in Major League history to hit 500 doubles and 300 home runs. On May 13, 2006, he passed Babe Ruth for 38th place all-time for the most doubles hit in league history.

On June 15, 2006, The Arizona Republic printed an interview by columnist E. J. Montini with Diamondback managing general partner Ken Kendrick. In the interview, Kendrick mentioned whispers of alleged steroid use by Gonzalez; in the interview Kendrick never directly accused Gonzalez of using performance enhancing drugs. The interview came 8 days after Diamondback relief pitcher Jason Grimsley was released by the team after the team learned that federal agents had searched his home looking for evidence that he was a distributor of human growth hormone and other performance-enhancing drugs. On June 16, 2006 an angry Gonzalez called a press conference to deny that he had ever used steroids.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Luis Gonzalez as a Dodger.


On September 14, , the Diamondbacks announced that they would not pick up the team option of $10 million to re-sign Gonzalez after the 2006 season. On December 7, Gonzalez signed a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers for $7 million for the season.

Gonzalez hit his first home run as a Dodger on Sunday, April 8, 2007 versus Barry Zito of the San Francisco Giants. He hit two home runs in that game.

Florida Marlins

Gonzalez with the Marlins in 2008.
On February 7, , he signed with the Florida Marlins. The deal was reportedly worth $2 million for 1 season. Gonzalez played in 136 games for the Marlins in 2008, batting .261.

Retirement

Gonzalez announced his retirement on August 29, 2009 and joined the Diamondbacks front office as a special assistant to the president.

Other activities

Gonzalez has launched IsTalking, LLC, a Phoenix based company that develops new social networking Web sites exclusively for college students. The company just launched a new social network with Arizona State University called ASUIsTalking.com. He has also formed a partnership with the ASU Alumni Association to be the exclusive online social-network for its 250,000 members.

Gonzalez has served as a color commentator on ESPN Radio's broadcasts of National League Division Series games in recent years, and also worked on Fox Sports' television broadcast of the 2006 National League Championship Series.

Gonzalez formerly owned and operated a restaurant called Gonzo's, located in oldtown/downtown Gilbert, Arizonamarker. It then changed name several times, and as of March, 2007, it is called "The Grain Belt". The restaurant is closed and vacant as of July 2009. Gonzalez is a prominent member of the U.S. Republican Party. As a resident of Arizona, he wrote a letter of endorsement for Arizona's Junior Senator, Jon Kyl, who won his bid for re-election in 2006. Gonzalez was also the Celebrity face for a cornfield maze in Queen Creek, AZ for the Schnepf Farms' annual Celebrity Maze. Gonzalez is the first local celebrity featured. Oprah Winfrey, Larry King and Jay Leno were featured in the past.

See also



References

  1. Suspicions sank some D-Backs
  2. Gonzalez to join D-backs front office
  3. asuistalking.com
  4. [1]
  5. Gonzo enjoys cornfield maze likeness


External links




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