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Covering his bases Featured

12:13pm EDT May 31, 2002
For Cleveland Indians shortstop Omar Vizquel, being in business means making product choices and contributing his name to those products, not being involved in the daily grind of running a company.

"I don't run a business, I don't know anything about business. I have people for that," said Vizquel at the unveiling of "Omar! My life on and off the field," by Vizquel with Bob Dyer.

Vizquel's ventures off the field include salsa, ice cream and a clothing line, as well as his paintings, done in a variety of textures.

"Because the Indians have played so well, and because I'm perceived as a decent guy, I've had good success with commercial products," says Vizquel in his book.

His first product, salsa, was introduced in 1998 as the result of a suggestion by a marketing person.

"I didn't think up the idea, I didn't create the recipe, and I have nothing to do with manufacturing it," says the Venezuela native. "But I did contribute the paintings for the label."

According to Vizquel, Bob Barlow of RBA Sports saw a painting by the nine-time Gold Glove winner and thought it would make a good label for salsa.

"So we got together and cut a deal," Vizquel says.

Omar Vizquel Baseball Ice Cream came about after Vizquel visited Mitchell's Homemade Ice Cream in Westlake.

"We liked their ice cream so much that I asked my marketing guy, Barlow, to contact the owners, Mike and Pete Mitchell, to see if they could develop a brand to carry my name," Vizquel says. "In the off-season, they sent a bunch of shipments of ice cream to my house in Seattle, and we tested them to see what we liked. We settled on four flavors: Triple Play Berry Sorbet, Double Play Chocolate, Bases Loaded Mint Cookies & Cream and Omar's Awesome Vanilla Bean."

Vizquel also paints -- his favorite artist is Salvador Dali -- and although prints of his work are available on his Web site for $175, he does the work more for himself than as a commercial venture.

"My main interest isn't selling them," he says. "I paint for fun. It's a great escape. When I sit down to paint, I can leave baseball and everything else behind. I lose myself in the work."

Vizquel's biggest commercial success has been with his clothing line. The line launched with T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats and boxers, all with Vizquel's name on them, then evolved to leather pants and bathing suits. Now the focus is tight-fitting, flashy leather coats.

His clothing line, including a $45 sports bra, is also available at his Web site, as are autographed balls and photos, rookie cards, mini-bats, and, of course, his book.

Although he trusts to others the day-to-day operations of the businesses that carry the Omar Vizquel name, the quality of the products is still important to him.

"I'm careful about what I put my name on," Vizquel says. "Nothing can mess up your good name faster than being associated with an inferior product."