Veras was born in the Dominican Republic and was signed by the New York Mets in 1989. Six years later, he made his major league debut for the Florida Marlins. In fact, he finished third that season in the Rookie of the Year voting. That is what 56 stolen bases (most in the league that season), 20 doubles, and seven triples in a season will do for you. He would never touch that number again, but he was always a threat to steal.
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He is mostly known for his contributions during the Padres’ World Series run in 1998. That season he played in 152 games, including the postseason. Veras set career highs that year in home runs (six), RBI (45), and walks (84). His glove was pretty reliable as well. During the 1998 postseason, he collected 11 hits, three of whom were doubles. He added three RBIs and nine walks. Six of those hits came in the NL Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves.
Veras played three seasons for the Friars, from 1997-1999. Offensively, he wasn’t really a force but he was a serviceable lead-off man. In his 415 games with San Diego, he hit .270 with 15 home runs.
After leaving the Padres in 1999, he went on to play with the Atlanta Braves for two seasons before his retirement; after leaving the Padres, his days of being an every day player were pretty much over.
All in all, he collected 750 hits over his career. He also stole 183 bases. He is one of the more memorable Padres second basemen with his high leg kick and his crisp goatee. He was a mighty mite at 5’9″ and 166 pounds. He played a vital yet under-appreciated role in the Padres winning the 1998 NL Pennant.
Most people credit the hitting prowess of Tony Gwynn, Ken Caminiti and Greg Vaughn for the 98 wins that year. However, most do not realize that with Veras’ on-base percentage of .373 at the lead-off spot, he set up a lot of RBIs for those middle-of-the-lineup guys.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Veras!
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