Andrew Stetka: Mora a bright spot during otherwise dark Oriole years

Orioles fans didn’t have a whole lot to cheer about between 1998 and 2011. That’s 14 years of losing, met with a lot of disappointment and sitting in the cellar of the American League East. There were few bright spots, but one of them was Melvin Mora, who spent about 10 years in Baltimore. As it turns out, Mora decided to spend more than that in the area.

Mora made a decision to settle down in Harford County during his playing days. Despite spending time with the Rockies and Diamondbacks after leaving the O’s, he’s kept his roots in the Baltimore area. Now, Mora has created even more roots by becoming a U.S. citizen. It happened last week, at the urging of his children. Mora’s six children, including quintuplets, are now teens. They were surely a big factor in his desire to settle down in Maryland.

The now 45-year-old Mora was born in Venezuela, but has been a member of the Fallston community for quite a while now. He and his beautiful wife Gisel can be spotted out and about as part of the fabric of the Baltimore area. As someone who grew up in Harford County, I used to spot them around town often. It was especially fun to see them pop in to the ice cream shop I worked at as a high schooler and treat their kids. We’re talking about a Major Leaguer who enjoyed playing the game as much as being part of something even bigger.

It’s easy to forget about important players on teams that didn’t capture our hearts. Fans will forever hold in their hearts the contributions of players like Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Chris Davis on playoff teams. Mora belongs in a different class. He was extremely underrated for what he did on the field for the O’s, and much of it was overlooked simply because the team wasn’t good. Mora won the Silver Slugger Award in 2004 after hitting .340 with a .419 on-base percentage. He was a two-time All-Star but was wedged into the so-called “dark ages” of Orioles baseball. He only briefly experienced the postseason with the Mets in 1999 before joining the O’s.

I’ve written many times over the years about how proud Jones has made me to be an Orioles fan over the last decade. Everything he does from the way he carries himself to his play on the field allows O’s fans to fill with pride about their team. Without really realizing it, I think Mora did much of that as well during his playing days. Jones will forever have roots in San Diego, just like Mora will always have his roots in Venezuela. But both players have also built something for themselves in Baltimore. They’ve built a sense of community and allowed themselves to become part of it, while allowing those already in it to beam with a sense of joy.

Mora provided a spark on many Orioles teams that needed one. He was not only a light on the field with his play, but his personality as well. That, as well as his commitment to the community, is something all fans can get behind. Not only did Mora probably deserve a little more appreciation for his contributions as a player, but he also deserves credit for his pledge to Maryland and the United States.

Andrew Stetka blogs about the Orioles for Eutaw Street Report. Follow him on Twitter: @AStetka. His thoughts on the O’s appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s continuing commitment to welcome guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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