Rey Ordonez: 1999 N.L. Wildcard Mets Short Stop (1996 - 2003)

Reinaldo (Pereira) Ordonez was born January 11, 1971, in Havana, Cuba. He was one of seven children to Sonia & Reynaldo Ordonez. His mother passed away when he was eight years old, the children were then raised by their father. Rey's father was also a baseball player in the Cuban Pro League.

Ordonez was a promising young player for the Cuban team as well. It was in a 1993 exhibition series in Buffalo, NY he defected by climbing over a fence. Rey left behind a wife & child in Cuba.

In 1993 the New York Mets won a lottery to sign him. He quickly became a highly touted defensive short stop often compared with the defensive skills of Ozzie Smith. 

Quotes- Bill Pulsipher: "They call him SEGA because he made plays that looked like video game plays."

He went through the ranks of the minors & by 1995 was at AAA Norfolk as the Tides number one short stop. He played a fine defense but batted just .214.

Mets Career: In Spring Training 1996 he surprised everyone by making the club, as manager Dallas Green named him the team's starting short stop. He debuted on Opening Day 1996, quickly living up to his defensive build up. In the top of the 7th inning, Ray Lankford singled to Bernard Gilkey in left field. He threw to Ordonez who was forced to field the ball on his knees, he then threw out Royce Clayton at the plate, helping secure the Mets 7-6 win. 

Although he was known for his glove, he was batting over .300 as far as early June. On August 7th, he had a big four hit at Wrigley Field where he drove in three runs in the 11-7 Mets win.

In September Bobby Valentine took over as Mets manager. On September 13th Ordonez, had a game winning base hit, when he singled in the bottom of the 8th inning off the Braves Dean Hartgraves in a 6-4 win over Atlanta. 

In his rookie season at short stop, he was second in put outs, assists & errors committed while turning 102 double plays. He batted .257 with 12 doubles one HR & 30 RBIs, coming in fifth in the Rookie of the Year voting.

1997: In 1997 Ordonez won the first of three straight gold gloves, making only nine errors in 118 games, while leading the league in fielding (.983%). 

On April 28th he had a big day at the plate in Montreal, as he drove in three runs gathering up two hits. In the top of the 10th, he had a base hit off Expos reliever Lee Smith, scoring Alex Ochoa & Todd Hundley with the games winning runs. 

On May 10th he drove in one of two runs with a 7th inning base hit to left field, in Bobby Jones three hit shut out over the St. Louis' Cardinals. On May 22nd, he drove in two runs with a bases loaded single off Curt Schilling in a 10-3 Mets win over the Phillies. On May 26th, he drove in another game winning run, with an 8th inning base hit off Montreal's Ugueth Urbina. 

He then went on the DL missing almost six weeks of action. On September 2nd, he hit his only HR
of the season, it came at Shea Stadium off Toronto's Kelvin Escobar in an 8-5 Mets win. 

Ordonez finished the year batting forty points lower that his rookie season with a .216 average. He hit one HR with 5 doubles 3 triples & 33 RBIs.

1998: In Spring Training manager Bobby Valentine worked on Ordonez's hitting. 

On April 11th, he had a game winning top of the 9th inning hit, off Milwaukee's Bob Wickman in a 2-1 Mets win over the Brewers. In the month he hit safely in 15 of 18 games. Later in the year he helped a Mets winning effort against the St. Louis Cardinals with a 7th inning single off Darin Oliver tying up the game.

At the end of May, Ordonez had eight hits in a three-game sweep over the Phillies. He started with a four-hit game in the opener & then finished off with a three-hit game in the final win. On June 16th, his RBI single was one of two runs in Al Leiter's 2-0 shutout.

In the first game of a July 22nd double header in Milwaukee Rey tripled in a run & then singled in a run in a 7-5 Mets win. On August 20th, Ordonez doubled off the Cardinals Darren Oliver to tie up a game at Shea. The Mets won it 5-4 as Tony Phillips drove home Ordonez with what was the game winning run.

On September 15th he hit his only HR of the year, a solo shot off the Astros Sean Reynolds in Houston. Later in the game in the top of the 11th, Ordonez doubled off Scott Elarton putting the Mets ahead, although they eventually lost the game.

In 1998, on the field, he posted a .975 fielding % turning 82 double plays with 265 puts outs (second in the NL). Although not a great hitter, he was a good sacrifice bunter, posting 15 sac hits in 1998 (2nd in the NL). 

Overall, Rey batted .246 with one HR 2 triples 20 doubles & 42 RBIs.

1999 Mets Wild Card Season: For the NL Wild Card Champion Mets, he had one of baseball's all-time best seasons at short stop. Rey made only four errors in 154 games, posting a .994 fielding percentage (best in the league). 

Record Setter: Ordonez set a record with a 101 errorless games streak that extending into the 2000 season.

He was second in assists third in put outs & games played, turning over 91 double plays.

The 1999 Mets infield was dubbed “The Best defensive infield ever” by many critics and it got them to a Wild Card berth in the NL. They also got as far as the NLCS appearance.

 On Opening Day, he doubled in the Mets loss at Florida. The next day, he drove in two runs in a 12-3 Met win.

On April 23rd his sac fly in the top of the 9th inning off the Cubs Rod Beck broke the 5-5 tie & led to the 6-5 Mets win at Wrigley Field.

A week later he had a three RBI Day in an 8-5 win over the Padres at Shea Stadium. In June he
hit well enough to get his average over .300. On June 8th, Rey had a big four hit day, with two RBIs, in an inter league 11-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays at Shea Stadium.

He would also have four three hit games in the week of June 17th through June 22nd, which peaked him at .303. Ordonez drove in 14 runs that month as well as scoring 12 runs. On July 10th he had two sac flies driving in two runs in the Mets 10-8 win in the subway series Saturday matchup. 

His hitting certainly cooled off but not before he was able to drive in ten runs in the final two weeks of August. 

Grand Slam: On September 18th, he had the biggest shot of his career when he hit a grand slam HR at Shea Stadium, off the Phillies Carlton Loewer in the 6th inning of an 11-1 Mets romp. After the game the Mets were one game behind the Atlanta Braves & leading the wild card race by three games.

The Mets went on a terrible seven game losing streak almost losing their playoff chances. They saved their chances by winning their last four games, tying with the Cincinnati Reds. 

The Mets lost a coin toss & a tie breaking game was played at Riverfront Stadium. The Mets won the game 5-0 behind Al Leiter, Ordonez went hitless in the game.

Drama: Toward the end of the season, Rey got into a scuffle with infielder Luis Lopez on a team bus. He needed six stitches to seal a cut on his left eyelid.

At the plate Ordonez hit the best in his Mets career, batting .258 with a career high 60 RBIs. He hit 24 doubles with two triples one HR 49 runs scored posting a .319 on base %.

1999 Post Season- NLDS: In the 1999 NLDS win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, Ordonez batted .286 (4-14). In Game #1 with the Mets leading 3-0, Ordonez sacrificed a bunt to Randy Johnson scoring Robin Ventura in the 8-4 win. Rey doubled in the Mets Game #2 loss.

In Game #3 in the 2nd inning, he drove in the game's first run with a single off Omar Dahl, New York went on to win it 9-3. In Game #4 he went 1-4 in the Mets series clincher, highlighted by Todd Pratt's walk off HR.

1999 NLCS: In the NLCS loss to the Atlanta Braves Ordonez went 1-24.

After enjoying success as one of baseball’s best fielding shortstops in the late nineties, it all went downhill at the turn of the century.

2000 Mets Pennant Season: 
On May 29th in a game against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, Ordonez was attempting to tag out F.P. Santangelo at second base. He fractured his arm & would miss be out for the rest of the regular & post season.

He had played in just 45 games, batting .188 with a .965 fielding % at short. He would never fully recover from this injury & be the same type of impact player. The Mets eventually went after Mike Bordick from the Baltimore Orioles to fill Ordonez’s role though the regular & post seasons. The Mets won the pennant & lost in the subway World Series.

After the Pennant: In 2001 Mike Bordick went back to Baltimore via free agency. Ordonez was back at short stop for the Mets. He did well defensively as he posted a .980 fielding % which was second in the NL, he helped turn 79 double plays & was in the league's top five in assists as well as put outs.

The Mets fell off to a third-place finish going 82-80.

On April 12th he drove in the only run of the game with a 10th inning single off Atlanta's Kelly Ligtenberg driving in Todd Zeile. On May 15th he once again drove in the only run of the game, with a base hit off the Padres Bobby Jones in the 5th inning. 

In July he hit .290 for the month. On July 21st he hit his first HR of the season, it came off the Phillies Randy Wolf in a 6-3 Mets win.

Walk Off Hit: On August 25th the Mets were tied 2-2 in the bottom of the 11th inning with the San Francisco Giants. Ordonez singled off reliever Rod Beck bringing in Jay Payton with the games winning run. That month he drove in ten runs.

On September 7th, in the bottom of the 5th inning he hit a two run HR off A.J. Burnett, then added an RBI single in the 7th inning of a Mets 6-1 win. He had a three-hit game with an RBI on September 8th in a 9-7 Met win in Florida. It was his last game before the September 11th attacks.

Post 911: In the first game after the 911 attacks, play resumed in Pittsburgh. Ordonez singled in his first at bat in the top of the 3rd inning. He later came around to score he first run of the game. In the top of the 9th inning, with the score tied 1-1 Ordonez singled off the Pirates Mike Fetters bringing in Tsuyoshi Shinjo with the go ahead run. The Mets went on to a 4-1 win.

In the final 17 games he collected ten hits. The Mets would get as close as three games back on September 27th but then faded from the race.

On the year he batted .247 with 3 HRs 24 doubles 44 RBIs & a .299 on base %.

2002: the Mets added Roberto Alomar up the middle with Ordonez and even though it sounded like a great combination up the middle, it turned out to be a nightmare. The two turned over 82 double plays, but Ordonez made 19 errors at short, the most since his rookie year. 

 The club struggled, falling to fifth place after getting to the World Series just two years prior.

Although Ordonez batted .252 (his third best Mets career average) it was a time of inflated stats & his numbers were certainly very small. He also was having issues with his arm that was now affecting his play defensively. A shortstop that couldn’t hit well and had a bad arm was certainly doomed in New York.

End of the Road: Ordonez was soon getting booed by the Shea faithful, and the media bashed him as well. Then Ordonez made the mistake of calling the Mets fans “too stupid”. His legacy as a great short stop was ruined and he was quickly shipped off to the Tampa Rays for Russ Johnson.

All Time Mets Leader board: Ordonez is third on the Mets All-time list with games played at short stop (907). He has played in 916 Mets games (14th on the Mets all-time list).

He batted .245 with 720 hits 115 doubles 17 triples 8 HRs & 260 RBIs with 275 runs scored & a .290 on base %.

Post Mets Career: Ordonez played in Tampa for one season, playing in just 34 games. In 2004 he signed with the Padres then was released. He then signed with the Chicago Cubs playing in 23 games, then retired at age 33.

Career Stats: In his career he played 973 games posting a 976 fielding % making 102 errors in 4199 chances, with 567 double plays. He hit .246 with 767 hits, 12 HRs 129 doubles 17 triples 287 RBIs & a .289 on base %.

Retirement: In 2004 he became a legal U.S. citizen and resides in Searingtown, Long Island with his second wife & two daughters.

Return to Cuba: In 2013 due to changing U.S. policies toward travel to Cuba, Ordonez returned to his native land & was given a hero's welcome in Havana. 

He revisited his birthplace & was reunited with family & friends.

Family: Rey was married with a child in Cuba but left them when he defected. Ordonez met his second wife while living with his first wife's family. They married in 1994 & had one daughter.


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