Magglio Ordonez Retires: His 5 Most Memorable Detroit Tigers Highlights

J Cook@JCookBRCorrespondent IMay 31, 2012

Magglio Ordonez Retires: His 5 Most Memorable Detroit Tigers Highlights

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    One of the greatest Venezuelan-born players in the history of baseball and the holder of arguably the greatest walk-off home runs in the annals of the Tigers' storied franchise, Magglio Ordonez will officially hang up his cleats on Sunday in a special ceremony set for pregame at Comerica Park in Detroit.

    Fox News reported today that Ordonez will forgo any further thoughts of extending his career and instead walk away from the game as the second-ranking Venezuelan player of all time with a .309 career average. His 2,156 hits places him sixth among his native peers. 

    He also holds other high offensive marks among his countrymen, smashing 426 career doubles (fourth) and knocking in 1,236 RBI (third).

    Ordonez brought a certain panache and swagger to his home in right field at Comerica Park and current Tigers fans probably can't remember anyone else out there but him. The next great to come to mind would have to be Kirk Gibson—that's good company to keep. 

    For the Detroit faithful the memories of Ordonez are many, here's a look at five of the most memorable during his time in the Tigers' stripes.

February 7, 2005

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    After being granted free agency in the winter before the 2005 season, the Tigers jumped at the opportunity to attain the rising star who was coming off an injury that cut his 2004 season to 52 games with the Chicago White Sox.

    Detroit rolled the dice and made a calculated gamble that certainly paid off over the course of Ordonez's career in the Tigers' organization. The Tigers signed Ordonez to a six-year deal worth nearly $90 million in salary and performance bonuses, and by most accounts he earned every dime of that free-agency deal.

    As the snow blanketed the Motor City in early February 2005 the fans in Detroit took part in a celebrated arrival of a soon-to-be Motown hero. 

The Awesome Hair

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    You know you're all the rage when the kids—young and old—want to wear their hair like you do. Early in his Tigers career Ordonez was a fan favorite for his play on the field and his one annual visit to the barber for a trim. 

    How many times do you go to the ballpark and find that one of the hottest vendor items for purchase is the Magglio Ordonez Wig?

    During Ordonez's heyday with the Tigers thousands of fans could be found emulating his curly do throughout Comerica Park.  

    Ordonez's long locks were outrageous and admittedly out of control when he finally got his hair trimmed during the 2007 season. Previously it hadn't seen scissors since before Detroit's historic 2006 World Series run.

    While his hair won't be hanging past his shoulders at Sunday's retirement celebration, it's almost certain fans will adorn his trademark look to pay homage to his outstanding career and the life-long memories he'll leave behind.

The Batting Title Season

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    A career .309 hitter, Ordonez had a season for the ages following the Tigers' World Series run of 2006.

    Ordonez hit an American League best .363 in 2007, the second highest average of a batting champion over the past decade; only Joe Mauer's .365 in 2009 has been better.

    Not only did Ordonez hit for average, he also drove in 139 RBI and hit a league-high 54 doubles, giving way to the nickname Doublio. He racked up 216 hits during the 2007 season and had an impressive .595 SLG. 

    Ordonez's next best season was in 2002 with the Chicago White Sox when he hit .320. 

    For his career Ordonez hit 426 doubles and drove in 1,236 runs, but never hit more than 32 doubles in any other season with Detroit, proving that his big numbers were something special.

    He won the Silver Slugger Award for his position and finished second in MVP voting during his All-Star season of 2007.

The Historic Bomb

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    There have been plenty of historic home runs in the history of one of baseball's oldest franchises, but few top the electrifying monster Ordonez hit in Game 4 of the 2006 ALCS. Ordonez's home run wasn't just big in Detroit, it was big in the history of baseball—period!

    Ordonez's three-run shot off the Oakland A's Huston Street seemed to almost jump over the moon before it landed deep into the left field stands at Comerica Park in Detroit. 

    The home run punched the Tigers' ticket to the World Series and added a remarkable tale in the annals of Detroit sports history. The memory of his long-range bomb will live on for generations to come and the celebration that ensued as a result of Ordonez's difference-maker is the stuff legends are made of. 

The 7 Great Years in the Old English D

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    The native-born Venezuelan may not have started in Motown, but after seven years in the Old English D, he will be remembered as one of the most impacting players of his generation. 

    During his time in Detroit, Ordonez hit .312 in 864 games and 3,531 plate appearances. He collected nearly 1,000 hits, settling for 989, of which 299 were of the extra-base variety. 

    Ordonez also knocked in 533 RBI over the course of his career with the Tigers and was a two-time All-Star.  He also hit above .300 in five of his seven seasons with the Tigers while drawing 318 walks and 1,508 total bases. 

    Never the most splendid outfielder, Ordonez sported a .987 career fielding percentage in the outfield, but much like every other stat that skyrocketed in his career-season of 2007, Ordonez only made one error and finished the season with an impressive .996 defensive average.