I have been a fan of the Detroit Tigers since the Summer of 1984. That means I am lucky enough to vividly remember my baseball team winning a World Series title, and waiting for them to win another. Since every year the team itself asks me who my Tiger is I decided to write about my favorite 25 Tigers since I became a fan…at eight years old…This has less to do with performance as it does with whatever intangible qualities Tigers’ players have…I mean this is the town that loved Brandon Inge and Don Kelly…and no neither one of those players will make my list…With all of that being said…
#12 Right Fielder Magglio Ordonez
Magglio is important to the Detroit Tigers history for two very distinct events. The first is he was among the first bigger name free agents Dave Dombrowski brought to town to add some pop to the lineup…it was also likely because of Ordonez that Dombrowski signs these veterans to shorter term contracts. Of course the big reason we remember Magglio with fondness is he hit the biggest home run of a generation for the Tigers…and with one swing of the bat made Comerica Park feel like the Tigers home.
Thanks to a feud with then Chicago White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen Magglio was available on the free agent market prior to the 2005 season…Dombrowski swooped in with a five year 85 million dollar deal (then the second biggest deal ever offered to a Tigers player). He hurt himself early on in that season but was back to form by mid season after rehabbing some with the Toledo Mudhens.
Let’s be clear here…Tiger fans of my generation loved Old Tiger Stadium…that is where we learned to love the game of baseball and that was were we liked to see our pro baseball played. Even more so for me because I was at the Tiger Stadium hug, and had written several letters and circulated several petitions to keep the Tigers playing at the corner. While we attended games at Comerica Park…we did not embrace it as our baseball home. It was so big..it changed so much early on (remember when the bullpens were in right field?) it seemed like the details of the construction had gotten away from Mike Illitch who frequently said he did not realize that place was going to be so big…and then the naming rights were sold off…had they named that place after Ernie Harwell or Sparky Anderson the fans would have embraced it from day one. That is not say Comerica is a bad place…cause its not. It is a great stadium but it became home one night in October of 2006.
22 years to the day of the last time the Tigers won the World Series and Kirk Gibson hit the biggest home run of that generation Magglio Ordonez came up to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning with two men on…He hit a 3 run homer to left field that put the Tigers back in the World Series. It was a great moment in this team’s history and the video of that shot was on my Myspace (ya I know I’m old) page for at least a year.
Even with that we can effectively argue that Maggs’ best season in Detroit was 2007. In fact till Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown in 2012 it was one of the best offensive season ever by a Tigers’ batter ever. He hit .363 with 28 HR, and 139 RBI…he also had 54 doubles. That made him an All Star that year, a Silver Slugger winner, and he finished second in the AL MVP vote. Although he would hit over .300 two more times as a Tiger after that season a lot of his power evaporated. He did hit 21 dingers in 2008 but he became a guy that hit into far too many double plays as leg injuries robbed him of what he once was.
Magglio was sort of the beginning to middle of the big priced free agents Dave Dombrowksi brought to town…and his run with the team was more successful that some of those that followed. Tigers fans remember Maggs with a lot of admiration for the things he was able to do wearing the Old English D.