Monday, January 18, 2010
#122) MIKE JORGENSEN
Mike Jorgensen was selected by the New York Mets in the 4th round of the amateur draft on June 7, 1966. A graduate of Francis Lewis High School in Queens, he would make his major league debut, at the age of 20, with the Mets on September 10, 1968. The kid nicknamed "Spider" by his friends at Public School 46 in Bayside, NY was known as a legend on the schoolyard. Mike could often be found returning there to hone his skills in everything from basketball to stickball since his family lived in the neighborhood. After his initial roster expansion call-up, Jorgensen did not reach the majors again until the 1970 season. The Mets had both Ed Kranepool and Donn Clendenon as first base options at that time. So the superb fielding Jorgensen could offer was overshadowed, and he was traded along with Tim Foli and Ken Singleton to the Montreal Expos in exchange for Rusty Staub on April 6, 1972.
Mike would become the regular first baseman for the Expos and win a Rawlings Gold Glove Award in 1973. While playing for the Texas Rangers on March 28, 1979 he was struck in the head by a pitch from Boston Red Sox pitcher, Andy Hassler. The pitch was behind him, and Jorgensen ducked right into it. Four days later he entered the hospital, complaining of headaches. He and his wife and daughter were watching The Bad News Bears in his hospital room when he suddenly passed out and went into convulsions. He had a blood clot on the brain, and if oxygen hadn't been administered immediately Mike would have joined Ray Chapman as the only major-leaguers to die as a result of being hit by a pitch.
Jorgensen returned to the New York Mets when he was given as the player to be named later in a deal that sent Ed Lynch to the Rangers for Willie Montanez on August 12, 1979. During the first ever fireworks night in Shea Stadium history on July 4, 1980, Mike would take exception at a beanball pitch thrown at his head by Expos' rookie pitcher, Bill Gullickson. Jorgensen pointed his bat at the mound in defiance, and teammate John Stearns (not even in the lineup for the second game of this double-header) charged the mound from the dugout. A full scale melee ensued and in an odd way created a sense of team unity that had been lacking with the club. "Jorgy" would leave the Mets when his contract was sold to the Atlanta Braves on June 15, 1983.
I created Mike Jorgensen's card in the set from an autographed index card purchased from Bob Dowen on November 16, 2009.