Tigers great and playoff hero is now mayor, baseball team owner in Venezuela
By Kyle Beery
DETROIT -- Far removed from his days of patrolling right field at Comerica Park and winning batting titles, Magglio Ordonez now has a little more responsibility. He is the mayor of the Juan Antonio Sotillo Municipality in eastern Venezuela. He also owns the baseball team Caribes de Anzoategui of the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League.
Ordonez took time to step away from his busy life to visit Comerica Park as a part of the Tigers' 10-year anniversary celebration of the 2006 American League Championship team. He will participate in a pregame Q&A session with fans and throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Saturday's game against the Royals.
Ordonez signed with the Tigers in 2005, one year before he hit a walk-off home run in Game 4 of the '06 ALCS that sent the Tigers to their first World Series in 22 years, a moment forever etched in the minds of Tigers fans.
Ordonez joked with media on Friday that he watches the replay of that home run "every other week" on YouTube. He said his favorite videos are ones taken by fans in the stands that night.
"That was an unbelievable moment for the city, for the fans," Ordonez said. "When you hit that, you don't think, you just enjoy. It was so loud. You just want to touch home and score and celebrate."
After spending the first eight years of his career with the White Sox, Ordonez went on to hit .312 in seven seasons with the Tigers, picking up an AL batting crown along the way when he hit .363 in 2007.
Looking back at his time in Detroit, Ordonez is grateful for his connection with the city that had a baseball revival brought about by the 2006 team.
"I used to come here and say I would never play in Detroit, never," Ordonez said. "Look at it now, I love Detroit."
Despite his busy life in his native country, Ordonez finds time to keep up with the Tigers, even if it's just getting updates sent to his phone. But most of his time is spent focusing on running the baseball team and his city. While he has enjoyed his time as mayor, Ordonez said he is looking forward to spending time with his family after his term ends in December 2017.
"I like it because you help people," Ordonez said. "It's hard because our economy is 100-percent based on oil. And the oil [price] right now is really low. It's hard to respond to the demand that the people have when the economy is struggling."
Ordonez used to play for the team he now owns. Caribes de Anzoategui finished in third place last season, one year after winning the league championship, Ordonez said.
Kyle Beery is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.