Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Miguel grew up in extreme poverty in Bani, a city approximately 40 miles southwest of Santo Domingo, capital of the Dominican Republic. His childhood was difficult, but he always maintained the dream of playing professional baseball.
The dream came true when Miguel was signed by the Oakland Athletics at the age of seventeen in 1993. His signing bonus was $2000.
Miguel 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 21-year-old Miguel and gave him the starting Shortstop job beginning in 1998.
The A's, and Miguel, 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 homers and in 1999 his average jumped to .251 and he knocked 21 long ones.
After a solid 87-win campaign in 1999, Tejada and an extraordinary group 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 Miguel's .275 average and 30 homers, the A's won 90 games. The A's put up a good fight against an experienced New York Yankees ballclub, which went on to win their fourth World Series championship in five years. However, their efforts fell short as the Yankees took the fifth and deciding game on Oakland's home field.
In 2001, the A's were a team of exceptional pitching and solid offense. Miguel had a comparable offensive year, hitting .267 with 31 homers. The A's captured the American League wildcard with a whopping 102-60 record. And once again, the A's fell to the mighty Yankees in five games, despite a 2-0 series lead. The Yankees went on to win their fifth American League pennant in six years, though they lost a close World Series to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
2002 was Miguel's year to shine. With the devastating departure of Jason Giambi to the New York Yankees during the offseason, and a leg injury to slugger Jermaine Dye, the A's needed someone to step up and carry the offense. Miguel came through. He hit .308 with 34 homers and led the A's to their second Western Division title in three years. Their campaign including an American League record 20 game win-streak. Miguel solidified his MVP candidacy with 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. Though it might seem with his power numbers that Miguel was an immobile power hitter, he had excellent range as a quickminded defender at one of the most important positions on the field. He also showed modest speed on the basepaths with 18 steals over a two year stretch. His efforts were rewarded with the 2002 American League MVP award.
Despite Miguel's leadership, the A's still couldn't put it together. For the third straight year, they fell in the fifth game of the first round of the playoffs, this time to the scrappy Minnesota Twins.
The next year, the A's got off to a slow start and so did Miguel, hitting under .200 for the first month of the season. But they turned it around. Consistent play allowed the A's to cruise to their second straight Western Division title and their third in four years. Miguel's end-of-year stats were solid: he hit .278 with 27 homers.
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. All the A's had to show for 391 wins and three division titles in four years was four first round playoff exits.
By the end of the 2003 season, Miguel had established himself as one of baseball's premier shortstops. His value was too expensive for the low-budget A's, so he signed a luxurious six-year, $72 million deal with the Baltimore Orioles.
As an Oriole, Miguel follows in the footsteps of likely hall-of-fame slugging shortstop Cal Ripken Jr.. Like Ripken, he is a strong and durable shortstop with the ability make the great play and deliver in the clutch. Ripken currently holds baseball's consecutive games record with over 2,000 games. At the start of 2004, Miguel had his own streak of over 500 straight games played.
During the offseason, Miguel resides in the Dominican Republic with his wife, Alessandra, his daughter, Alexa, and his son, Miguel Jr. He is a hero to his countrymen and one of the most inspiring players in the game today.
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 round two alone. He defeated Houston Astros star Lance Berkman 5-4 in the final round of the contest.
Tejada's at-bat music is Tupac's "Hit 'em up". Tejada led the league with an incredible 150 RBI's in the 2004 season.
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