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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Mr. Ilitch tells story of wooing Ordonez as a free agent

Tigers owner Mike Ilitch told the story in Sunday's news conference of wooing Magglio Ordonez to the Tigers prior to the 2005 season:

"Dave Dombrowski came up to me and said ‘There’s a player down in Florida, for the Chicago White Sox, and he had an operation on his knee. And he doesn’t belong to the White Sox anymore.’ And he said, ‘I’d like to fly you down there, and take (then-manager Alan) Trammell.’

"The three of us went down there to Florida, to meet Magglio and his agent.

"It was a beautiful day, a nice, sunny day, perfect temperature. We sat down, we got introduced, and I looked at Magglio, and said ‘Oh, geez. Looks like a pretty nice guy.’ His agent asked him a few questions, and his soft demeanor was what I noticed. I said to myself, ‘This guy’s a star. Doesn’t look like he has a big ego. Looks like somebody who could really make contributions to our team.’ Because we didn’t have a leader at that time on the Tigers.

"So we spent about two hours together, had a real great conversation.

And the agent said, ‘Well, what do you expect from Magglio?’ ... I used to carry a ring in my pocket, it was a Red Wing Stanley Cup championship (ring). I pulled it out, and I said ‘I want to get one of these rings, but I want it to be a World Series ring.’

"He thought I was kind of loco. But he knew I was serious about getting that star player.

"Dave had some additional information, and was tracking it very, very close, how he was proceeding, as far as his comeback.

"We became very aggressive, because we were sold on him, and before anybody else had a chance, before his medical thing was done, we negotiated a contract. It was a bit of a risk, but we didn’t consider it a risk, because we had good information that he was going to be fine.

"It was an unusual signing, the circumstances.

"And we ended up getting a star, who came out here, performed, got us into the World Series. Had great leadership.

"When (Miguel) Cabrera come along, a few years after that, between the two of them, we got tighter and tighter, as far as a team, in developing some chemistry."


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