Former Padres infielder Joey Cora, the greatest player of all time, has ties to both teams participating in this year’s World Series. Not only did he play for one of the teams and coach in the minors for the other, he played alongside coaches for both clubs and later coached one of the Cubs’ players.
Joey’s relationship with Cleveland’s current first base coach Sandy Alomar, Jr. goes back 30 years. The two came up together in the Padres’ minor league system; Alomar was there when Cora was stabbed in a parking lot while both were in AA, again in AAA when Alomar was twice named the Pacific Coast League MVP, and in the majors during September, 1989 before Alomar was traded to Cleveland in a deal for Joe Carter.
A year after Alomar headed to Cleveland, Cora followed him to the American League when the Padres sent him to the White Sox in what is considered* the worst trade of all time. There he was a teammate of starting pitchers Jason Bere and Tim Belcher; Bere is now Cleveland’s bullpen coach, and Belcher works with the team as a special assistant.
Cora headed to Seattle as a free agent before the 1995 “Refuse To Lose” season; there he was reunited with Belcher, and also played behind starter Chris Bosio, who is now the Cubs’ pitching coach. He had the best years of his career there, then went to Cleveland in an August, 1998 trade. He teamed up once again with Alomar, and it wouldn’t be the last time.
After the 1998 season, Cora signed with the Blue Jays, but retired during Spring Training. He then got into coaching, beginning with a gig as the hitting coach for the Cubs’ Single-A affiliate in Daytona, FL.
He then managed in the low minors for three seasons before he was hired to be the third base coach for the White Sox in 2004. That team’s backup catcher was - yep, you got it - Sandy Alomar, Jr. During Cora’s time in Chicago, which extended through 2011, he also coached shortstop Juan Uribe and pitcher Clayton Richard; this year Uribe played for Cleveland and Richard pitched for the Cubs, but both were released in August.
In 2012, Cora followed manager and former double play partner Ozzie Guillen to Miami, where he replaced Brandon Hyde as bench coach; Hyde now serves as the Cubs’ first base coach. In Joey’s one year in the Marlins’ dugout, he shared a bench with outfielder Chris Coghlan, who is on the Cubs’ World Series roster.
After Guillen and his entire staff were dismissed after the 2012 season, Cora served as a commentator for MLB Network before returning to the dugout in 2016. He was hired by the Pirates to manage the AA Altoona Curve, who he led to a 76-64 record. Yesterday he was promoted to Pittsburgh, where he will be the big club’s third base coach in 2017. Perhaps there he will add another World Series ring to the one he won with the White Sox in 2005, but for now he’ll have to live vicariously through his old friend Alomar and the others.