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Tejada grew up in extreme poverty in Baní, a city approximately 40 miles southwest of Santo Domingo, capital of the Dominican Republic. At age 17 his childhood dream of playing professional baseball was realized when he signed with the Oakland Athletics for $2000.
Tejada developed quickly into a top-notch prospect, showing early signs of power. He reached the majors towards the end of the 1997 season, joining a struggling Oakland Athletics club. Though he only hit .202 in 26 games that year, the A's saw potential in the 21-year-old Tejada and gave him the starting shortstop job beginning in 1998. Miguel Tejada grew up idolizing the Baltimore Orioles SS Cal Ripken Jr.
The A's, and Tejada, steadily improved over the next two years. His hitting improved as he gained more discipline at the plate. In 1998, he hit .233 with 11 home runs and in 1999 his average jumped to .251 with 21 home runs.
After a solid 87-win campaign in 1999, Tejada and a core of young players led their A's to their first American League Western Division title in eight years in 2000. Bolstered by an American League MVP-winning performance by first baseman Jason Giambi, and aided by Tejada's .275 average and 30 home runs, the A's won 91 games. The A's faced the New York Yankees in the first round of the postseason, which was won by the Yankees 3-2 in Oakland. The Yankees would go on to win the World Series that year, their fourth championship in five years.
In 2001, Tejada had a comparable offensive year, hitting .267 with 31 homers, including hitting for the cycle on September 29. The A's captured the American League wild card with a 102-60 record. In the postseason, however, the A's fell to the Yankees in five games, blowing an initial 2-0 series lead.
Tejada's breakout year came in 2002. With the departure of Jason Giambi to the New York Yankees during the offseason, and a leg injury to slugger Jermaine Dye, the A's lost two of their key offensive players. Tejada hit .308 with 34 homers and led the A's to their second Western Division title in three years. Tejada was named to his first All-Star team, had a 24-game hitting streak, and established his career high in runs scored. The A's campaign included an American League record 20 game win-streak. Tejada contributed one-out, game-winning hits in the 18th and 19th games of that run: a three-run homer off Minnesota Twins closer Eddie Guardado for a 7-5 victory and a bases-loaded single against Kansas City Royals reliever Jason Grimsley to break a 6-6 tie. Tejada also showed modest speed on the basepaths with 18 steals over a two-year stretch. His performance was rewarded with the 2002 American League MVP award. For the third straight year, though, the A's fell in the fifth game of the ALDS, this time to the Minnesota Twins.
The next year, both the A's and Tejada got off to a slow start, with the shortstop hitting under .200 for the first month of the season. Improved play in the second half of the season led the A's to their second straight Western Division title and their third in four years. Tejada hit .278 with 27 homers for the year, a decrease from his numbers in 2002, but still leading many offensive categories for shortstops, earning himself a second consecutive All-Star appearance.
In a tension-filled series, the powerful offense of the Boston Red Sox narrowly edged out the A's in the first round, once again in five games. Tejada was known for his public display of anger toward Boston starting pitcher Derek Lowe at the series' conclusion for what he perceived as obscene gestures. Lowe denied the accusation, claiming his fist pump was in celebration only.
By the end of the 2003 season, Tejada had established himself as one of baseball's premier shortstops. The A's elected not to resign the free agent, citing budget concerns and a young Bobby Crosby coming through the system, so Tejada signed a six-year, $72 million deal with the Baltimore Orioles during the offseason.
As an Oriole, Tejada follows in the footsteps of legendary Baltimore shortstop Cal Ripken Jr.. Like Ripken, Tejada is a strong and durable shortstop with unusual power numbers for a middle infielder. Ripken currently holds baseball's record for consecutive games played at 2,632. Tejada played in his 1,000th consecutive game on July 1, 2006--then the seventh-longest streak of all-time. In Game # 1151 on June 20, 2007 he broke his wrist when hit by a pitch. The next day (June 21, 2007), he went up to bunt in the top half of the first inning, bunted into a force play, and was replaced by a pinch-runner. Following the game, he was place on the disabled list, ending his streak at 1152 games, the fifth longest in majorleague history (topped only by Ripken-2632, Gehrig-2130, Everett Scott-1307, and Steve Garvey-1217. By a quirk of fate, Hideki Matsui of the Yankees (broke his wrist trying to make a diving catch), who holds the major league record of 519 consecutive games to start his career, also did not complete the top half of the first inning in the final game of his streak (May 11, 2006).
Some say Miguel Tejada is the best offensive shortstop in Major League Baseball, a claim well supported by his statistics. Teammate Brian Roberts told Peter Gammons that Tejada is the best player in the game because, "He has an uncanny ability to knock in runs ... his energy. He is always up, pushing everyone and making the entire team better." Orioles' hitting instructor Terry Crowley said, "This franchise changed the day he arrived."
During the offseason, Tejada resides in the Dominican Republic with his wife, Alessandra, his daughter, Alexa, and his son, Miguel Jr.
On July 12, 2004, Tejada won the Century 21 Home Run Derby in Houston. Tejada hit a record 27 home runs in the contest, with a record 15 homers in the second round. He defeated Houston Astros outfielder Lance Berkman 5-4 in the final round of the contest. Both records were broken the following year in Detroit by Bobby Abreu.
Tejada led the league with 150 RBI's in 2004.
While Tejada did not participate in the Home Run Derby in 2005, he was an All-Star and starter for the AL. In his first All-Star start, Tejada hit a solo home run against John Smoltz of the Atlanta Braves, had a sacrifice RBI and was part of an all-Oriole double play with teammate Brian Roberts. His efforts earned him the All-Star MVP, winning a Chevrolet Corvette.
On December 8, 2005, it was widely reported by the Associated Press that Tejada asked the Orioles for a trade, citing unhappiness with the team's direction. Tejada challenged those statements in an interview with Comcast Sportsnet's Kelli Johnson, saying he only asked for a better team, referring to his hope that the Baltimore Orioles would improve after their eighth straight losing season.
Several weeks later, Tejada reiterated his complaints with the Orioles' lack of action and demanded to be traded, sparking immediate rumors of a trade to the Boston Red Sox for pitcher Matt Clement and outfielder Manny Ramirez. Tejada stated that he wants a "good group that helps me to win" and commented briefly on his alleged non-involvement in Palmeiro's steroid scandal.
Rumors went around in early 2006 that Tejada might be traded to the Red Sox or Cubs. But on January 7, 2006, Tejada stated his intent to remain with Baltimore for "the rest of [his] career." This statement was made to Orioles Vice President Jim Duquette in a meeting arranged by mutual friend and teammate Melvin Mora.
After a disappointing 2007, in which his consecutive games played streak was snapped due to injury, Tejada was traded to the Houston Astros in a six player deal that included Luke Scott, Matt Albers, Dennis Sarfate and Troy Patton.
On September 22, 2005, ESPN reported that Rafael Palmeiro, who had tested positive for steroids and was suspended for 10 games under Major League Baseball's steroid policy, implicated Tejada to baseball's arbitration panel, suggesting that a supplement given to him by Tejada was responsible for the steroid entering his system. Tejada has denied the allegations, saying that the only thing he gave Palmeiro was vitamin B-12, a completely legal substance under current MLB policy.
On September 24, 2005, The Baltimore Sun reported that "The Health Policy Advisory Committee, which oversees baseball's testing policy, issued a statement that exonerated Tejada and chastised the media for reporting that he might have distributed steroids to another player."
In José Canseco's book, Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big, he mentions that he believes Tejada might have taken steroids. He claims to have spoken to him about them and the next season seeing him at spring training looking more defined. He never claims to have injected him with them, like he did with Palmeiro, McGwire and other ballplayers.
On September 30, 2006 the Los Angeles Times reported that former relief pitcher Jason Grimsley, during a June 6, 2006 federal raid, told federal agents investigating steroids in baseball named Tejada as a user of "anabolic steroids." The Times reported that Tejada was one of five names blacked out in an affidavit filed in federal court. However, on October 3, 2006, the Washington Post reported that San Francisco United States attorney Kevin Ryan said that the Los Angeles Times report contained "significant inaccuracies." Tejada, along with the other four players named, has denounced the story.
On April 17, 2008, Tejada was confronted by an ESPN reporter during an interview who revealed that Tejada had been lying about his age ever since he first signed a Major League Baseball contract in 1993. Tejada had claimed to have been born in 1976 when a Dominican birth certificate showed that he was born in 1974. That birth certificate also shows the spelling of his surname as "Tejeda" rather than "Tejada".
- ↑ "Palmeiro named Tejada before panel", ESPN, 2005-09-23. Retrieved on 2006-10-04.
- ↑ Pugmire, Lance. "Clemens Is Named in Drug Affidavit", Los Angeles Times, 2006-10-01. Retrieved on 2006-10-01.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 "U.S. Attorney Says Report Alleging Drug Use Contains 'Inaccuracies'", Washington Post, 2006-10-03, p. E02. Retrieved on 2006-10-04.
|American League Most Valuable Player|
|Home Run Derby Champion|
|American League RBI Champion|
|Major League Baseball All-Star Game|
Most Valuable Player
- MLB consecutive games played streaks
- List of players from Dominican Republic in Major League Baseball