Magglio to officially retire on Sunday
Tigers to hold celebration of slugger's career prior to game
BOSTON -- Magglio Ordonez spent the last six months as a man without a team. He's about to receive a proper retirement party from the team he helped lead into a new golden era.
The Tigers announced Tuesday that they'll remember their longtime right fielder and postseason hero with a Magglio Ordonez Day celebration on Sunday at Comerica Park, where the former batting champion will make his retirement official.
It's a proper way to remember one of the best Tigers hitters of his generation, and one of baseball's most consistent hitters for more than a decade in his prime.
The Tigers will honor Ordonez in a ceremony prior to Sunday's series finale against the Yankees at Comerica Park. They'll do so on the same field where he homered off Oakland's Huston Street in Game 4 of the 2006 AL Championship Series to send the Tigers to the World Series, one of the biggest hits in the Tigers' illustrious history.
Ordonez will retire with 2,156 hits amassed over a 15-year Major League career. Just under 1,000 of those hits came as a Tiger. While Ivan Rodriguez represented the landmark signing of the Tigers' renaissance from baseball's doormat in 2003, Ordonez helped vault them towards an American League pennant after signing a landmark seven-year contract as a free agent just before the 2005 season.
It was a risk for both parties -- the Tigers gambling that Ordonez could stay healthy after experimental knee surgery, and Ordonez taking the chance that the Tigers were serious about contending. It worked beautifully on both sides.
After missing part of the 2005 season with a sports hernia, Ordonez came back with a 24-homer, 104-RBI season in 2006 that helped send the Tigers to their first postseason birth in 19 years. His walkoff home run in the ALCS sent them to their first Fall Classic since 1984.
The next year, Ordonez became the Tigers' first batting champion in 46 years, batting .363 with go with a league-high of 54 doubles as well as 28 home runs and 139 RBIs. He finished as the runner-up to Alex Rodriguez for AL MVP honors.
Injuries and age took their toll in the ensuing years, but Ordonez quietly saved some of his biggest hits for when the Tigers needed him most. His .439 average and 11 RBIs in September and October of 2009 provided the biggest contribution as the Tigers tried to hold onto their division lead. Then he batted .419 over the final month of last season to help lead Detroit to its first division title in 24 years.
Ordonez went 5-for-11 in the Tigers' AL Division Series win over the Yankees, including a three-hit performance in a Game 5 upset at Yankee Stadium. He fractured his ankle for the second time in as many years in Game 1 of the ALCS at Texas.
That ended up being the last game of Ordonez's career. He worked his way back from a second ankle surgery, but went into the season without a team. By the end of Spring Training, he said he was on the verge of retirement.