Carlos Delgado, 1995 Pinnacle, #390
I know I am late to the party on this one, but I just wanted to chime in with my two cents on the wonderful decision by the Blue Jays to add Carlos Delgado’s name to the Level of Excellence. Now I realize these designations are somewhat arbitrary and silly, but I find a great deal of joy in celebrating the history of the team and the decision to recognize Carlos’ contributions seems significant to me.
While many of the overwrought sports columnists in this city would mistakenly have you believe that baseball in Toronto has been stuck in a barren wasteland since the back to back championships, it is probably fair to say the late 90’s and early 2000’s saw a team in something of a state of flux. Ownership changes, payroll rollercoasters, manager controversies, free agent splashes and rebuilding tear downs made it hard to cling to something constant with the team. Except for King Carlos.
From his establishment as a full time player in 1996 to his departure after the 2004 season, Carlos Delgado created a defining personality for baseball in Toronto. It wasn’t just his exceptional performance, although that was certainly part of it. I still can’t help but smile when I think back to his ridiculous 2000 season (.344/.470/.664 with 41 HR’s and a fWAR of 7.5. Insane.) or his four home run masterpiece.
But it was the personality and presence of the man that endeared him to so many. Someone who was not afraid to take a principled political stance some misconstrued as “Anti-American” in a sport blatantly marketed as “America’s pastime.” Someone who committed their time and resources to improving every community he touched, be it here in Toronto or in his home country of Puerto Rico. Even recently you see examples of the man’s generosity with the Omar Malave situation. I can’t put it any better than Dustin Parkes last week on Getting Blanked “Principled and generous, Delgado is the first person that I think of when the subject of athletes as role models is discussed.”
No city could ever have hoped for more in a player than Carlos Delgado. So I look forward to July 21 and the ability to say thank you to the man for the countless hours of joy he has given me over the years. It is a clumsy metaphor to say the least, but the image on this card of Carlos looming over the city seems somehow perfect.