This week, Melvin Mora of Agua Negra, Yaracuy State, was elected to the Baltimore Orioles’ Hall of Fame. That’s not a bad place to be; the O’s have a storied history with 10 members in the big Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
Melvin got to the bigs at age 27, with the 1999 Mets. He starred in the playoffs that year, hitting .429, but was traded to Baltimore the next season, and remained with the O’s for a decade, collecting more than 1300 hits and making two All-Star teams. In fact, in 2004 he hit .340—and you’re wondering why he didn’t win the AL batting crown? Some dude named Ichiro hit. 372 that season.
It took Melvin a while to get the the Major Leagues, but he also played 15 seasons for the legendary Magallanes in Venezuela (winning three championships) and a season in Taiwan.
In fact, Melvin’s had quite an interesting life. When he was six years old, his father was murdered in front of him in a case of mistaken identity. He himself was blessed in plenitude as a father in 2001, when his wife Gisel gave birth to quintuplets: three girls and two boys–an entire infield in one fell swoop. In 2009, when he reached second place on the Orioles’ all-time list of games played at third base, Brooks Robinson himself came to Orioles Park and presented Melvin with third base. And he’s made $40 million playing the game he loves.
Melvin’s home town, Agua Negra, is a rather remote area with a large Afro-Venezuelan population who take the San Juan Bautista festivities each June 23-25 very seriously–in colonial days, that was the three-day respite for slaves to actually live like human beings and enjoy life before being sent back to the sugar cane fields, etc.
So congratulations, Melvin Mora. St. John the Baptist was working overtime to sanctify your brood in 2001, and I’m sure you are working just as hard now, with five 14-year-olds.