Well, it’s about time.
I was saying it last season to a couple friends during Robbie Alomar’s number retirement ceremony, “next year they put Delgado on the Level of Excellence”.
On July 21, 2013, Carlos Delgado will be the 12th player in Blue Jays history to have his name and number placed on the “Level of Excellence” at Rogers Centre, joining Dave Stieb, George Bell, Joe Carter, Cito Gaston, Tony Fernandez, Pat Gillick, Tom Cheek, Roberto Alomar and Paul Beeston. And I say, very well deserved.
To quote Paul Beeston: “Not only was he one of the best hitters in club history, he was one of the finest first basemen of his generation.”
Delgado’s career numbers speak for themselves: .280 avg/.383 obp/.546 slg/.929 ops, not to mention his 473 homers and 1512 rbi. Those are arguably hall of fame numbers. And his numbers as a Blue Jay? How about the franchise’s all-time leader in home runs (336), RBIs (1,058), walks (827), slugging percentage (.556), OPS (.949), runs (889), total bases (2,786), doubles (343) and extra-base hits (690).
I was present for Delgado’s last game as a Jay. It was the end of 2004 and the final game of the season vs. the Yankees. The Yankees fans were bragging about how Delgado would be on their team next year, knowing full well he was a free agent and would be gone. I remember thinking, “I don’t blame you if you go, Carlos. Just please don’t go to the Yankees”. He signed a 4 year, $52 million deal with the Marlins that offseason after turning down an insulting 2 year, $12 million deal from the Jays (the Jays payroll was slashed from $76 million to $45 million that year – I don’t blame Carlos for leaving).
We missed you, Carlos. I look forward to taking my kids to the park when they are older and pointing to your name on the Level of Excellence and telling them all about your great play for our team. This was long overdue.