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Jose Mesa

Jose Mesa

Position(s):
P
Nicknames:
Joe Table
Born:
May 22, 1966
Bats:
Right
Throws:
Right
Height:
6' 3"
Weight:
170 lbs
Major League Debut:
9-10-1987 with BAL
Allstar Selections:
1995 RR

José Ramón Nova Mesa [MAY-sah] (born May 22, 1966 in Pueblo Viejo, Azua, Dominican Republic) is a former Major League Baseball right-handed relief pitcher. His nickname was "Joe Table," the literal translation of his name in the English language.

Baseball career
Mesa was initially signed as an amateur free agent by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1981, originally as an outfielder. He was traded to the Baltimore Orioles, during the 1987 season for starting pitcher Mike Flanagan. Mesa began his major-league career as a starting pitcher with the Orioles who hoped that Mesa's superior fastball would earn him success in the starting role. After 48 starts of below-average results during four seasons, the Orioles traded Mesa to the Cleveland Indians in 1992. Cleveland continued to use Mesa as a starter through the end of 1993; that year, Mesa pitched a career-high 208-2/3 innings, although Mesa's earned-run average was worse than the league average ERA for the fifth consecutive season.

Mesa became a relief pitcher for the Cleveland Indians in 1994, and, for the first season of his career, he posted an ERA better than the league average. In the role of closer during the 1995 season, Mesa pitched superbly; in 64 innings pitched over 62 appearances, Mesa had a 1.12 ERA, saved 46 games, and won 3. Thirty-eight of Mesa's 46 saves were recorded in consecutive appearances in save situations; this was a major-league record at the time. Mesa's performance in 1995 was instrumental to the Indians' 100–44 regular-season record and their first World Series appearance since 1954. In 1997, Mesa's 2.40 ERA, 16 saves, and 4 wins helped the Indians to their second World Series appearance in three seasons. However his inability to hold a one run lead in the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 1997 World Series was a black mark on his career, and Cleveland traded him mid-way through the following season.

On December 10, 2006, he signed with the Detroit Tigers. He was released by the team following their 7–2 victory over the Cleveland Indians on June 3, 2007. In 16 appearances with the team, he was 1-1 with a 12.34 ERA. On June 8, 2007 he signed a minor league deal with the Phillies, making his second stint with the team. He appeared in 40 games for the Phillies, compiling a 1-2 record with a 5.54 ERA. Mesa retired in 2007.

Highlights

    American League All-Star (twice, 1995–96)
    Relief Man of the Year Award (1995)
    TSN Reliever of the Year Award (1995)
    Led AL in saves (46, 1995)
    Led AL in games finished (57, 1995)
    His 321 career saves rank him 13th on the all-time list
    His 112 career saves ranks first all-time in Philadelphia Phillies history

Controversies
Mesa was involved in a longstanding feud with former teammate Omar Vizquel following the publication of Vizquel's autobiography, Omar! My Life On and Off the Field. In the book, Vizquel criticized Mesa's performance in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series: "The eyes of the world were focused on every move we made. Unfortunately, Jose's own eyes were vacant. Completely empty. Nobody home. You could almost see right through him. Not long after I looked into his vacant eyes, he blew the save and the Marlins tied the game." Mesa reacted furiously, pledging to hit Vizquel upon every subsequent opportunity: "Even my little boy told me to get him. If I face him 10 more times, I'll hit him 10 times. I want to kill him." By the end of the 2007 season, Mesa had hit Vizquel twice.

Mesa was charged with one count of rape for allegedly penetrating one woman with his finger and two counts of gross sexual imposition for allegedly groping two women in a Lakewood, Ohio motel room on December 22, 1996. Mesa was acquitted of all charges on April 9, 1997.

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