Magglio Ordonez has been one of the outstanding players for the Detroit Tigers. He was one of the heroes of their 2006 American League pennant winning season. But the 2009 season was something very different indeed. The power seemed to leave Mag’s bat. He struggled offensively and defensively. Although the Tigers led the American League Central most of the season, only to be overtaken by the Minnesota Twins, Ordonez became the focal point of the frustration of Tiger fans and target of a tremendous amount
of vitriol. As the 2010 season has begun, the old Mag is back and in many ways he seems a better player than he has in many years. He is one of the four .300+ hitters at the front of the Tiger line-up that are making fans forget the departure of Polanco and Granderson.
Only now is the story of 2009 coming to the forefront. It is a love story of Magglio and his wife Dagly. It is a story of dedication and sacrifice, of a man demonstrating that being a husband and a father is far more important than any accolade our sports satiated culture can offer. Dagly found she had thyroid cancer. It is a treatable cancer, but still dangerous. The doctors operated immediately. Then there was the radiation treatment that meant Dagly had to be separated from her family. Magglio had to become a single parent. He didn’t talk a lot about his family situation, did not add the spotlight to Dagly’s suffering and his children’s fears. Later Ordonez would comment:
“The thing is, you have to understand that life is first — life, family,” he said. “And the thing is, it’s not easy when you’re working or you’re playing baseball, to try to focus mentally. You see last year at the beginning of the season, I was struggling. My mind wasn’t on baseball. But you know, the support with family and friends, when you’re in good hands with good doctors, [helps].”
A lot of baseball fans (no, fanatics) are now hanging their heads in shame. Magly is better, doing well, in fact. Ordonez is now turning his attention to cancer victims in his baseball community. Hitting home runs again. Thrilling Tiger fans. Giving the team a great shot at the 2010 pennant.
But on humanity’s all stars … Magglio Ordonez now has earned a place.
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