Lew Ford, who played in parts of five seasons with the Twins and finished 24th in the 2004 MVP voting, has been signed to a minor league contract by the Baltimore Orioles and assigned to their Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk. Ford had been with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League since the start of last season, consistently among the league leaders. Since leaving the Twins after the 2007 season, he'd also spent some time in the Colorado Rockies organization, Oaxaca of the Mexican League, and the Hanshin Tigers of NPB.
Ford has long been a personal favorite, and not just because he was drafted by the Red Sox and then dealt by Dan Duquette for Hector Carrasco in one of a series of ridiculous moves where Duquette emptied the Red Sox minor league system in 2001 and 2000 for average-ish major leaguers (see also Matt Kinney and Chris Reitsma). Ford became a favorite of mine in the spring of 2003, when he was the leadoff hitter for the Rochester Red Wings. As a senior in college that year, I had a parking space, and a car to put into that parking space. That car was used to take me to just about every Red Wings game in April and May of that year at Frontier Field.
Note: Frontier Field is an awesome baseball stadium. I've been to about a half-dozen minor league parks, and Frontier is by far my favorite, with all due respect to LeLacheur Park in Lowell. If you ever find yourself in Rochester for any reason, catch a Red Wings game.
Anyhow, every time Ford was announced, my friends and I, who were occassionally fairly alone in the $5 seats, would give him a long LLEEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWW cheer. Regularly batting second was Luis Rodriguez, who got a cheer of LLUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU-IIIS. It was not, of course, especially creative, but we were having fun. Ford seemed like a good guy, and played very well for the Red Wings, leading me to buy a #20 Ford t-shirt when he was called up to the Twins, a shirt I wore proudly when he had his best season the next year.
In today's game against the Pawtucket Red Sox, Ford went 3 for 5 with 2 doubles and 2 RBI, leading Norfolk to the 6-3 win, and he now sits at .500/.571/.667 after his first three games. At the very least, he provides some depth to the Orioles system, something they need with Nolan Reimold out longer than initially anticipated with a herniated disk. If Ford continues to play well, he could find himself next in line for a recall. If not, though, I'll at least be able to dust off that #20 Twins shirt and scream LLEEEEEWWW from the cheap seats.