Former Met Melvin Mora Retires
After thirteen Major League seasons, former Met Melvin Mora announced his retirement. The utilityman hit .277/.350/.431 with 171 homers during his career, which he spent with the Orioles, Rockies and Diamondbacks in addition to the Amazins. Mora only recorded 281 games in a Mets uniform, hitting .248/.312/.390 with six home runs over that span, but he still has a unique role in team history.
Initially signed by the Houston Astros in 1991, Mora inked a contract with the Mets in the summer of 1998. In 1999, at the age of 27, the native Venezuelan finally made his Major League debut on May 30th, going 0-3 against the Diamondbacks. He spent the rest of the season primarily coming off the bench and hit .161/.278/.161 with no homers, playing all three outfield positions in addition to second, third and short. His most important contribution during the regular season, however, came in game 162 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. With the Mets needing a win to play another day, the score was tied 1-1 going into the bottom of the ninth. With one out, Mora singled to right field and advanced to third on a single by Edgardo Alfonzo. John Olerud was intentionally walked, and the Pirates brought in Brad Clontz to face Mike Piazza. Clontz’s first offering went to the backstop and Mora sprinted home with the game winning run, sending the Mets to Cincinnati for a one-game playoff (which they won, of course).
Mora had just three plate appearances in the NLDS that season, but had a strong showing in the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves. In 16 PA, Mora tallied six hits, one homer, two RBI and three runs scored. He scored the go-ahead run in the eight inning of Game 4 after drawing a walk and drove in the go-ahead run (at the time) top of the eighth in Game 6.
Mora had a decent start to the 2000 season in his utility role, hitting .260/.317/.423 in 242 PA, but he would not finish the season in New York. Following Rey Ordonez’s season-ending injury, the Mets shipped Mora to Baltimore, along with three others, for Mike Bordick. Bordick hit just .260/.321/.365 with four homers for the Amazins during the regular season (in addition to going just 4-33 during the postseason) before re-signing with the Orioles that offseason. Mora, meanwhile, went on to enjoy the best years of his career in Baltimore.
With the Orioles, Mora hit .280/.355/.438 with 158 homers over ten years. His finest season came in 2004, when he batted .340/.419/.562 with 27 homers, 104 RBI and an fWAR of 6.2. He had many other successful seasons in Baltimore before signing with the Rockies as a free agent in 2010. He hit .285/.358/.421 with seven homers that season, including a grand slam against the Mets at Citi Field in August. Mora spent 2011 with Arizona, but hit just .228/.244/.276 in 42 games before being released in June.
While not a star, Mora spent most of his career as an average of above average (or in a couple of seasons, well above average) Major League player. Where he would’ve fit if the Mets hadn’t traded him is anybody’s guess, although in retrospect, he would’ve made a better everyday shortstop in 2000 than Mike Bordick. Still, because of one wild pitch, Mora will forever have a place in Mets history.