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Remembering Melvin Mora with the Mets



By Mike Silva ~ January 3rd, 2012. Filed under: New York Mets, NY Baseball Memories.

How often does a late season call-up make an impact on a team in the postseason? Some names that come up off the top of my head are Shane Spencer with the Yankees in 1998, K-Rod in Anaheim in 2002, and Francisco Cabrera with the Braves in 1992. The Mets had two such players under Bobby Valentine: Melvin Mora and Timo Perez.

Melvin Mora announced his retirement last week and his career is more remembered for his production in Baltimore than anything he did in New York; however Mora had an impact in the 1999 postseason and was a key reason the Mets made the playoffs in 2000 due to the fact he was the centerpiece of a deadline deal.For that, he will go down as a prominent figure in Mets history.

Mora was shuttled between Norfolk and the big league club a couple of times in ’99. He wasn’t a well-known prospect, as he spent 6+ seasons in the Astros minor league system. A year earlier a majority of Mora’s season was spent in High-A St. Lucie. Already 27-years old you could say that he was a non-prospect.

The career path of Melvin Mora changed that September as he played his way onto the postseason roster by going 3 for 7, showing versatility, and possessing a great arm in the outfield. He started the rally and scored the winning run in Game 162 against Pittsburgh. He played quite a bit in the NLCS versus Atlanta, and went 6 for 19 with a homer and a couple of big defensive plays. I still remember the bullet he threw to home early in Game 3 to preserve a 1-0 deficit; that lone run was all Tom Glavine needed to give the Braves a 3-0 lead in the series. He was on the backend of the double steal the next night in Game 4 and scored the winning run on John Olerud‘s chopper past Ozzie Guillen to keep the Mets alive. He also kept the Grand Slam Single Game tied in the 13th inning by throwing Keith Lockhart out at home.

Mora made the team as a bench player out of spring training in 2000. When Rey Ordonez went down in May he was handed the starting shortstop job. The problem was that Mora wasn’t a shortstop on a team that relied on pitching and defense to win. An error in Boston in mid-July forced GM Steve Phillips to search for a veteran replacement. He first acquired Barry Larkin from Cincinnati for top prospect Alex Escobar, but Larkin used his 10 and 5 rights to veto the deal. Phillips would eventually settle on dealing Mora to Baltimore for Mike Bordick. At the time, Bordick was the steady defensive shortstop they needed and was a year removed from hitting a career-best 20 home runs.

The Mets were probably better off with Larkin accepting the deal. Escobar turned out to be nothing special, and they used him as a centerpiece to acquire the aging Roberto Alomar from the Indians a couple of years later. Bordick didn’t do much better offensively than Ordonez and he lacked range defensively. To be fair, he made all the necessary plays but one he didn’t make cost the Mets the World Series.

Mora went on to average 17 HRs and 72 RBI in 10 years with Baltimore. He played in two All Star Games and his best year came in 2004 when he hit .340 with 27 HRs and 104 RBI. He mainly played third base, a position that’s been handled capably in New York over that span. I do wonder, however, whether he could have been a solid corner outfielder for the Mets. You can’t criticize the deal as the Mets needed a shortstop badly, and who could have predicted a career minor leaguer would go on to be such a useful offensive player.

Melvin Mora hit .248 with 6 HRs and 31 RBI in 281 plate appearances as a Met. It won’t put him amongst the elite players that have put on the uniform, but his performance in the 1999 playoffs left the fans memories they will cherish.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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5 Responses to Remembering Melvin Mora with the Mets

  1. Stu B

    Mora also made a couple of key defensive plays in LF to keep the Mets tied with Arizona in Game 4 of the ’99 division series to set the stage for Todd Pratt’s walkoff homer for the ages.

  2. Joe Wenzel

    What irks me about Bordick was he played in the playoffs and World series with a bum thumb. I wished he’d have told people (and even if he did) the Mets could/should have put him on the disabled list and had a more competent shortstop for the WS with range (didn’t even need one who could hit – because with that bum thumb Bordick didn’t).

    Maybe the play he misplayed you allude to (I’ve long since forgotten the specifics – I just remember I was pissed at him for some reason) wouldn’t have happened.

  3. Benny

    Mike:

    I remember hearing something good about Mora the person that came from the Oriole broadcaster Jim Hunter (whose Dad used to be the producer for the Yankee games on WPIX) many years ago on WBAL. When Elrod Hendricks (former Yankee and Oriole) passed away, the only Oriole on the active roster in 2005 who came to Mr.Hendricks funeral was Melvin Mora. That may not be big thing to others, but to me that shows something about a person’s character.

  4. tnt1528

    joe the play might have been sojo’s 100 bouncer up the middle

  5. Joe Wenzel

    Now I remember it. TKS.

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