Tomorrow in Detroit, Magglio Ordonez will officially call it a career. In the long run, he'll be remembered as a Tiger. That is what happens when you connect for a walk off homer to send your team to the World Series. He was a major part in the rejuvenation of that franchise along with Ivan Rodriguez.
If you look at the stats though, Maggs had his best years playing on the South Side. The six time All Star spent four of those seasons representing the White Sox, including 2003 in our very own U.S. Cellular Field. After Frank Thomas' 7 year reign of terror and before the 2005 World Series Championship, Ordonez was the poster boy of the Kids Can Play era. His 187 homers currently rank 5th in White Sox history and he did it in only 6 1/2 seasons.
Ordonez was signed out of Venezuela as a 17 year old all the way back in 1991. Larry wasn't writing back then so I didn't really follow the White Sox minor leagues very closely, but I had never even heard of Ordonez until he was called up in late August 1997 for a cup of coffee.
On August 29, 1997 Ordonez made his debut for the Sox batting 8th and playing right field. He singled in his first at bat off of Ramon Garcia and went on to make a pretty big impression by putting up a .319/.338/.580 line in 69 at bats.
In 1998, Maggs got his first taste of every day action. Ordonez finished 5th in the A.L. ROY balloting behind Ben Grieve and teammate Mike Caruso. Albert Belle was busy setting White Sox records that year, but Ordonez kept his head above water hitting .282/.326/.415 with 14 long ones and 65 knocked in.
When the calendar flipped to 1999 though, Magglio began an assault on American League pitching. Ordonez put up a .301/.349/.510 line with 34 doubles, 30 homers and 117 RBI's. It was his first all star season, and it was clear Ordonez was destined for great things in the middle of the White Sox lineup.
The Kids showed they could play in 2000 as the Sox went on to win the Central with Ordonez being an excellent complement to Frank Thomas. Thomas finished 2nd in the MVP voting with a line of .328/.436/.625, 43 homers and 143 RBI's. Ordonez finished 12th in the voting with a .315/.371/.546 line with 32 homers and 126 RBI's. Ordonez was the crown jewel in the White Sox youth movement which also included sluggers Paul Konerko and Carlos Lee.
In 2001, the Sox faltered and the Big Hurt got injured but Ordonez had another season of a .300 average with 30+ homers and 100+ RBIs. This time he even threw in 25 stolen bases and crossed the 40 double plateau for the first time in his career. He also walked and struck out an equal amount of times (70).
2002 was Maggs best season with the stick for the Sox. He hit .320/.381/.597 with 47 doubles, 38 homers, 135 RBIs and 116 runs scored as he finished 8th in the MVP voting. His 86 extra base hits that season were good for third best in the league and the 3rd most all time for a White Sox in a single season. Only Albert Belle (99 in 1998) and Frank Thomas (87 in 2000) totaled more.
Ordonez also has the 4th spot on that list as he hit 78 extra base hits in 2003 as he was en route to a .317/.380/.546 season with 46 doubles. Ordonez fell one homer and one RBI short of putting up another 30+ homer 100+ RBI season, but had the most hits (192) in a season he had as a White Sox. Unfortunately, 2003 was Maggs' last full season in the black and white.
In 2004, Magglio again started out strong, but on May 19th Ordonez and Willie Harris collided as they chased a blooper by Omar Vizquel. Ordonez slid into Harris' legs and even though it was first reported that it was only a couple of bruises, it turned out to be much worse. He came back to play May 21st, but would only appear in four games before going to the disabled list. He would come back in July, only to get hit by a pitch vs. the Indians Jeriome Robertson. Ordonez season and White Sox career came to an end.
Ordonez and the White Sox battled over contracts, Ordonez' decision to go with Scott Boras and what was the best way to treat his knee injury. When the dust settled, he was signing a huge contract in Detroit. Ozzie Guillen and Ordonez then had a blowup and Magglio's name became dirt on the South Side. The White Sox went on to win the World Series the next year with his replacement, Jermaine Dye, being named MVP of the Series. Ordonez would reach the World Series on his ALCS series clinching home run the next year, and in 2007 he would have the best season in his career with a .363/.434/.595 line with 54 doubles, 28 homers and 139 RBI's.
I'll always remember the way he would spray a ball into the right center gap one at bat and in the next at bat bomb one down the left field line for a homer. I'll also never forget the O-E-O Magglio chants that filled Comiskey Park when number 30 strode to the plate. It was so prevalent that when Ordonez would bat in video games you could hear the chant. Throughout my college years, Ordonez was the White Sox best player. I spent most of those years three sheets to the wind chanting Ordonez' name. He'll always have a special place in KenWo history, so much so that my daughter received the name Maggie (and goes by Maggs, for short).
In the Morning Phil, Paul Konerko called Ordonez the best all around player he's ever played alongside. His final White Sox stats of .307/.364/.525 with 187 homers, 703 RBIs and 1,167 hits in 1,001 career games makes him one of the best offensive players to ever wear a Sox uniform. He'll probably never get the accolades he deserves from his time on the South Side... and that is a shame.