The son of Pedro Orta, known as the Babe Ruth
of Cuban baseball, Jorge turned down
a basketball scholarship to UCLA to play baseball in the Mexican League
. There he
batted .391 in 1971 and was purchased by the White Sox. He began 1972 as Chicago's
shortstop but was sent down for some seasoning and returned as a second baseman.
Uncomfortable with American ways, the soft-spoken young Mexican struggled with English
and his fielding before blossoming into a hitting star in 1974. That year he finished
second in the AL batting race to Rod Carew
(.364 to .316), three times collecting
five hits in a game.
Orta batted .304 with a career-high 83 RBI in 1975. In 1976
he was named to Mexico's Baseball Hall of Fame. The White Sox shuttled him around
the infield and outfield in an effort to keep his bat in the lineup, but he never
developed fielding consistency at any position. He signed as a free agent with Cleveland
in December 1979 and batted .291 in 1980, tying a ML record with six hits in a game
on June 15. His performance began to decline in 1981, and he spent his final four
seasons as a platooned Royals DH.