WITH A SMILE: Indians’ Superstar Francisco Lindor Receives the Team Puerto Rico Appreciation Award • Latino Sports

Baseball

WITH A SMILE: Indians’ Superstar Francisco Lindor Receives the Team Puerto Rico Appreciation Award

on

LindorBRONX – A few months ago, I was asked to compile my own version of the greatest All-Puerto Rican Baseball Team – “Superestrellas”, Superstars and yes…even legends from “La Isla Del Encanto.”

This picturesque island of my parents’ origin has literally produced names that are synonymous with excellence on the field and even one extraordinary player simply known as “The Great One.”

Every baseball aficionado has heard the names of Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda, Roberto Alomar, Iván Rodríguez and Edgar Martínez .

But when it came to shortstop, I received a few text messages such as, “Oye, you forgot Pedro “Perucho” Cepeda” who easily should have been considered for this position. Honestly, I’m quite familiar with Cepeda who was affectionately known as “The Babe Ruth of Puerto Rico” but my difficult choice happened to be the current Indians’ shortstop with the infectious smile.

A few years ago in Ohio, I interviewed Francisco Lindor when he played with the Indians’ Double-A affiliate and in 2013 I did a follow-up at the Futures Game at Citi Field during the All-Star Game festivities. For me, what I believe has guided this rising star in the big leagues is his unbelievable talent, quickness, baseball acumen and possessing all of the ingredients of a phenomenal player.

And then there are the hashtags – #TeamPuerto Rico, #TeamRubio, #LosNuestros and literally every imaginable emoji throughout the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

And what a classic it was.

Although Team Puerto Rico would go undefeated and eventually lose to Team USA in the Finals, the “Rubios” arrived in Puerto Rico for an unforgettable celebration and parade.

For two weeks, it wasn’t about the massive debt, PROMESA, school/hospital closing, residents fleeing the island and even an interesting statistic – crime saw a huge drop throughout the island.

The talk was simply… PUERTO RICO, PUERTO RICO, PUERTO RICO.

Today at Yankee Stadium, Latino Sports President, Julio Pabón presented one of the “rubios” with the Team Puerto Rico Appreciation Award that was created by long-time Latino Sports cartoonist and BBWAA artist, John Pennisi.

Upon receiving this heartwarming award, Lindor (who last year would win his first Gold Glove Award, the prestigious LatinoMVP, in the 2016 ALCS hit .368 and right now has a career-high 25 homeruns) couldn’t stop staring at his caricature wearing the Team Puerto Rico uniform and of course – the blond, dyed hairstyle.

“I feel great and it’s a blessing and I want to thank you guys, Latinos in New York and throughout the nation. We represented Puerto Rico to do whatever it takes to make sure our little island would always have a smile,” says Lindor matter-of-factly.

He added, “The experience was beautiful. We didn’t think it was going to be like that. The plan for Puerto Rico was to put a smile on every face. With the problems in Puerto Rico, people were able to think about something different.”

But the ultimate goal was certainly accomplished for every Puerto Rican on the island and throughout the world because Lindor continues to live in the spirit of Team Puerto Rico.

And yes…he’s still smiling.

About Danny Torres

Bronx native, Danny Torres is a high school teacher, an avid baseball fan and freelance sports journalist. Besides his work with Latinosports.com, he has written for MLB.com, the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y, the N.Y. Mets, the Puerto Rico Daily Sun and Manhattan Times. He was a frequent guest on 'Solamente Pelota', a now-defunct sports program on XM/Sirius satellite radio. In 2010, he contributed to an updated prologue for the re-released book, 'Clemente, the Enduring Legacy' by Kal Wagenheim. In 2011, as part of a series commemorating Hispanic Heritage Month on MLB.com, he contributed to a five-part series saluting the greatest Latino pitchers in baseball. Finally, in December, 2011, he participated in a panel discussion connected with the Smithsonian exhibition, 'Beyond Baseball, The Life of Roberto Clemente' in Baltimore, Maryland. In December, 2012, he appeared on the front page of 'El Diario/La Prensa', a NY Spanish daily newspaper and was featured in a five-part series dedicated to the legendary Puerto Rican baseball player, Roberto Clemente who tragically died 40 years ago.

  • Sandy / Rivera

    Congratulations! Boricua 100% Boricua!