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November 11, 2011

Melvin Mora on Ramos' kidnapping, crime in Venezuela and wanting to return to the Orioles

UPDATE: Wilson Ramos was rescued Friday in Venezuela. Read the story of his rescue here.

If anyone understands violence in Venezuela, it is former Oriole Melvin Mora, whose father was killed in front of the family’s home in a case of mistaken identity when Mora was just a boy.

So, sadly, he’s not surprised that 24-year-old catcher Washington Nationals Wilson Ramos was kidnapped in Valencia, Venezuela, on Wednesday and is being held hostage, presumably for ransom.

Ramos was taken from his home by four gunmen, and, as of early Friday afternoon, an investigation was ongoing and Ramos was believed to be alive. Mora doesn’t know Ramos well but spent time with him at a restaurant last year when the Nationals and Arizona Diamondbacks, Mora's team in 2011, played.

“I’m really worried, not only for Ramos, but I worry for his family,” Mora said. “They went and talked to the police, and I’m afraid [the perpetrators] will come back and do something to them later because they went to the police.”

Mora, who was cut by the Diamondbacks at the end of June, lives full time in Bel Air, but he visits his home country frequently. He goes in and out without telling too many people he is visiting. He said that sometimes his mother, who lives primarily in Venezuela, doesn’t even know when he has returned to Maryland.

“My mama will call and say, ‘Where are you?’ and I’ll say, ‘I am in the United States,’ and she’ll say: ‘When did you leave? You were just here?’ I kind of go into hiding,” he said.

He said he understands the perils of his country and that it is easy to be caught up in the criminal world.

“Somebody shoots my dad in front of me, and sometimes, in life, you don’t realize you’ve been through all this stuff when you have a good family and you have a reason to care and work hard,” he said. “But when you don’t have anybody, you end up as one of them in crime or [as] killers. I’m glad my mama always took care of me. She never allowed us to go in a bad direction, and here we are. When we go to Venezuela now, we see 14-year-olds really serious about crime. [Lawmakers] have reduced the crime a little bit, but it is still there.”

Mora has always been a huge supporter of Venezuela and has a children’s foundation there. He said he returned recently to deliver baseball equipment and was met by a man with a gun. The man escorted him around the area, making sure he wouldn’t be harmed by others.

Mora said the man told him he wanted to protect Mora because the ballplayer had given his son baseball equipment.

The Ramos incident, he said, likely will deter other big league players from going to Venezuela and participating in the winter league there. That’s completely understandable, and a shame, he said.

“It’s a sad situation. There are so many families, wives and kids, that support the players. They go over there to give a good attraction to the fans, to play for the fans and we give you a good show,” Mora said. “And we don’t expect that it is going to be scary. But all the players don’t want to play in Venezuela now because of security, and that is sad.”

Mora said the country of Colombia also used to be crime ridden, but with the help of the U.S. government, it’s safer now – safer than Venezuela. He would like the same thing to happen in his homeland.

“I think we need help from the United States to help us fix the things over there in that country. I don’t think without the United States we can do it,” Mora said. “I have lived 20 years here, I see the security here. I see how it works here. But I know there are a lot of things to fix here, too.”

Mora used to talk, only half-joking, about wanting to be president of Venezuela. No longer does he even kid about going into politics.

“Two things I don’t want to be in my life: I don’t want to be a coach, unless I be a coach for my kids, and I don’t want to be a politician,” he said.

What he wants to continue to be is a baseball player. He turns 40 in February and is coming off a rough 2011 in which he hit .228 in 127 at-bats for the Diamondbacks. He was in a car accident in spring training, and his brother-in-law, who was like his second father, died during the season.

He believes his time away from the game has helped him focus, and he thinks he could contribute as a regular or a utility player next year.

And, yes, he’d love to come back to the Orioles, for whom he played from 2000 to 2009. He said he likes manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, whom he knew when Duquette ran the Boston Red Sox.

In fact, Mora said, he recently spoke to former Oriole Miguel Tejada, who was cut this season by the San Francisco Giants, and talked about reuniting in Baltimore.

“I said, ‘Why don’t we go back to the Orioles?' And he said, ‘You want to do that?'" Mora said. “I don’t know. I guess we have to see who the general manager of the Orioles is to see if he will take us back.”

That reunion seems unlikely since Duquette is more focused on rebuilding with younger players and not veteran castoffs. But Mora hopes to play somewhere in 2012, hopefully on the East Coast, near his wife, 14-year-old daughter and 10-year-old quintuplets.

Posted by Dan Connolly at 1:48 PM | | Comments (15)


I would love to see Mora in an Oriole uniform again, just not as a player.

Hell no, let 'em go. Not interested in dusty, old, washed up players. No thanks.

It's a shame he doesn't want to coach because I'd love to see him come back to the O's as one. The same goes for Tejada. I don't think either have much left in the tank in terms of playing.

Good story Dan.

melmo was a great oriole. loved seeing the occasional photo of him with his entourage in tow.

"...wanting back on the Orioles" I assumed that meant in some sort of coaching role. Is Melvin serious when he said that he wants to reunite with Miggy here again!? Whoa. I really like Melvin and he was a very good Oriole but c'mon man. He seems to be suffering some post concussion symptoms from his car accident.

I love how both of these washed up guys think that "If we have nothing else going on, Baltimore will always take us back". Vlad should have taught all of us to stay away from signing relics to take up roster space. Then again, this is what Angelos loves to do in order to keep from spending money on good, solid players.

We sure do miss Melvin's defense at 3rd. Perhaps he can back up 2nd and 3rd.

please melvin you served your time here well let the young ones move in so we can get to the world series in my lifetime
twice is enough for tehada
but thanks for the memories when you guys were here like they say come back as coaches if buck will have ya

Melvin was always a class act and deserved a better deal then what the O's gave him and Elrod. I would love to see him back as a coach for the O's. He was always a great clubhouse presence and has a lot to offer the organization.

No, no, no, no, no. Mora grumbled when he was here. Listen, we all grow older and our physical skills deteriorate. Wake up, Mora and Tejada.

Melvin Mora was my favorite Oriole for years. I would love to see him come back for a season. We need team veterans as well as new guys.

This is peter's dream come true - old, barely serviceable ballplayer who used to be relevant that will play for peanuts.

Really a horrible idea but it would not surprise me in the least!

I dont think its that bad of an idea.. dont get me wrong these 2 would not be my first choice by any means but if we dont get anyone I wouldnt mind seeing both of them back in an O's uni as backups next year.. I believe Tejada already said he would love to coach for the O's.. why not let them come back and retire as Orioles? there is something to be said about a franchise who respects and honors its players.

We knew the Mora’s before Giselle had the kids, and just before Melvin got his 10 year O’s contract. The newborns all came home to the new house. Occasionally, Melvin could be found sitting on the curb chatting with two or more of the neighborhood boys. (Talking Baseball what else)
They were always nice folks; Giselle with their oldest daughter in tow would round up a few of the other girls on out block and haul 3 or 4 of them off to an O’s game. What a hoot, they’d all come back worn out……
The Mora’s weren’t into the highlife they sought normalcy, we respected their feelings and treated them like everyone else…… basically our hood was a causal atmosphere.
Moving forward after reading this blog it troubled me to see that the fans had forgot him….. they no-longer RESPECTED him as a individual …..a man who played his heart out and did a fine job while he was here….. If you have nothing else have some Respect……they are really nice people….
neighbor friend

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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