Jorge Orta was 21 years old and had spent time with both Tuneros de San Luis and the Mexicali Aguilas in Mexico’s Center and Northern leagues when the Chicago White Sox came calling in November 1971.
Just 10 days after his 21st birthday, on Nov. 30, 1971, the White Sox purchased Orta’s rights from Mexicali and he impressed enough in his first spring training camp to make the opening day roster in 1972. Used as a utility infielder, Orta struggled at the plate, slashing just .191/.216/.277 before he was sent to Triple-A Knoxville in early July.
Chicago White Sox
He came back when rosters expanded on Sept. 1 and was better down the stretch, posting a slash line of .233/.324/.433 over his final 16 games. On the year, he hit .202/.244/.315 in 133 plate appearances, with three homers, 11 RBI and 37 strikeouts against just six walks.
The White Sox, meanwhile, were a surprise contender in the American League West, finishing just 5½ games in back of the eventual World Champion Oakland A’s.
Orta landed the regular job at second base in 1973 and held that spot for much of his remaining tenure with the White Sox, although he was a regular utility player — starting games at third base and both outfield corners — before moving back to second base the following season.
He represented Chicago at the 1975 All-Star Game at Milwaukee County Stadium, but did not get into the game.
Orta topped the .300 mark at the plate twice in his tenure, finishing second in the American League with a .316 average in 1974 and topping the mark again in1975. Orta clubbed a career-high 14 home runs in 1976, while driving in a career-best 84 runs the following season when the White Sox went from 64 wins to 90, leading the division as late as Aug. 19.
Orta became a free agent after the 1979 season and signed with the Cleveland Indians, where he played two seasons. He also spent time with the Los Angeles Dodgers (1982), Toronto Blue Jays (1983) and Kansas City Royals (1984-87).
In eight seasons with the White Sox, Orta slashed .281/.338/.418 with 79 homers and 456 RBI, striking out 477 times and drawing 301 walks in 990 games.