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Catching up with Ricky Jordan

Catching up with Ricky Jordan

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When it came time for the Phillies to make their first-round pick in the 1983 First-Year Player Draft, they chose Paul Scott (Ricky) Jordan out of Grant High School in Sacramento, Calif. Ten years later, he was playing on a Phillies team that went to the World Series.

Jordan, who turned 42 on May 26, made his Major League debut on July 17, 1988. He walked in his first plate appearance and then hit a three-run homer off Houston's Bob Knepper at Veterans Stadium in his first official at-bat. He hit three home runs in his first week, a first for the Phillies. During the rest of that year and a full 1989 season, Jordan totaled 23 home runs and 118 RBIs.

His next four seasons featured a sore left wrist, an injury to his left hand and a fractured jaw. Two surgeries on his right shoulder (in 1995 and 1997) eventually ended his baseball career.

While Jordan was hurt, someone named John Kruk came along and grabbed hold of his normal first base position. Ricky briefly tried the outfield but his bat made him a quality pinch-hitter. He led the 1993 Phillies with 16 pinch-hits, the most by a Phillies right-handed hitter in 19 years. Through that season, he had a .307 career pinch-hitting average. He ended with a .277 mark in that role, four points under his overall lifetime average.

Pinch-hitting is not an easy science. "I'd study the pitchers and their patterns," he remembered. "It wasn't easy, because I was used late in games, which meant I had to face the setup guys or closers. Lenny [Dykstra] told me, 'Dude, when you get in the on-deck circle, get your plan.'"

Jordan left the Phillies as a free agent after the 1994 season and then spent time with the California Angels, Seattle Mariners and Pittsburgh Pirates. His last Major League at-bat came with the Mariners on Sept. 20, 1996. The Pirates had him in their big-league camp the following year, but he was sent to Double-A and finally ended his pro career.

Life after baseball has been good to the 22nd overall player taken in the 1983 Draft (the 19th was a pitcher named Roger Clemens).

Jordan and his wife Keanna, a Temple University grad, have a son and daughter and reside in northern California. He's active in his stepfather's construction company that specializes in tile, marble and granite, is involved in real estate, is an owner of racquetball clubs and a partner in a rice milling company. He also finds time to fish, golf, hunt and mountain biking.

His 12-year-old son, Justin, is a second baseman/shortstop on a Little League team coached by Jordan.

"He can field, run and throw, which makes me wonder if he is my kid," Jordan said laughing. "Anyone who followed my career knew I was short in those areas, although I do have a steal of home on my record."

When the Phillies were in San Francisco in early May, Ricky and Justin visited the team at AT&T Park.

"It was great. I got to see Del Unser, Milt Thompson, Joe Lefebvre, Ryan Howard, J-Roll and Abraham Nunez, whom I knew from my days with the Pirates," said Jordan.

His fondest memory of Philadelphia?

"Gee, I can't name just one," he said after a short pause. "Hitting a home run in my first at-bat is something you dream about as a kid. Winning the pennant in Pittsburgh in '93 and playing in the World Series [he was the designated hitter the first two games]. The fans. They are die-hard fans and if you play well, they will cheer. If you don't, they'll let you know, and that's OK. And, the organization, from those on the field to the front office, everyone treated me great. The Phillies are a family-oriented organization. I am proud to be a member."

On July 26, Ricky will be inducted into the Reading Phillies Hall of Fame. He hopes to visit Citizens Bank Park that weekend before heading back to California. Perhaps Dan Baker can announce one more time, "Now batting, No. 17, first baseman Ricky Jordan."

Ricky Jordan file
Born May 26, 1965, Richmond, Calif. ... Resides in Folsom, Calif. ... Children Justin and Ashley, who'll turn 10 on June 12.

Career: Climbed up the Phillies Minor League ladder, Helena (Rookie), Spartanburg (Low A), Clearwater (High A), Reading (Double-A) and Maine (Triple-A) ... Played for the Phillies from 1988-94 ... Last year in the Majors was with the Mariners in 1996 ... Career .281 hitter with 55 home runs and 304 RBIs in 677 games.

Phillies: 1987 winner of the Paul Owens Award after he hit .318, with 28 doubles, 16 home runs and 95 RBIs for the Reading Phillies ... Stole home against the Mets in New York on Sept. 29, 1992, one of 10 steals (out of 16 attempts) in his big-league career ... Did steal 26 bases at Clearwater in 1985. "I used the sneak attack," he laughed. "No one thought this skinny kid would run, so I surprised them 26 times."

Larry Shenk is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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