On July 21 Carlos Delgado will become the tenth inductee into the Blue Jays Level of Excellence. And it’s about time. Delgado is more than worthy of the accolade after spending 12 seasons in Toronto, during which he put up some of the best offensive numbers in franchise history.
Unfortunately Delgado is sometimes overlooked when we think of Toronto Blue Jays greats because he didn’t play during the glory years and was never able to lead Toronto to the postseason. In reality Delgado should be remember as one of, if not the best hitter to ever wear a Blue Jays uniform. Take a look at Delgado’s career numbers in Toronto.
Team records from those stat include runs, doubles, home runs, RBI, walks, intentional walks, hit by pitch, OPS and total bases. Now you can see why this honour has been a long time coming.
Delgado made his mark all over the record books in Toronto and his also made his mark with a number of memorable moments. Here’s five that stood out most to me when I thought back. If you have others you think should be included let me know in the comments section.
5. Delgado takes Andy Pettitte deep
On July 19, 1998 the Blue Jays faced the New York Yankees in front of 42,176 fans at SkyDome. In the fifth inning facing southpaw Andy Pettitte, Delgado would do something only three other batters had done in a game at the ‘Dome
With Shannon Stewart on first base Delgado crushed a Pettitte offering depositing it into the fifth deck in deep right field. At the time only Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Joe Carter had found the fifth deck at SkyDome during a game.
The home run was estimated to have traveled 467 feet and helped the Jays pull of a 9-3 win.
4. Delgado represents the Blue Jays in the Home Run Derby
Delgado was a two-time All Star during his time in Toronto (although he should have gone to the Mid-Season Classic more) and he also took part in the Home Run Derby twice.
His first go around was in 2000 when he faced off with other sluggers like Sammy Sosa, Ken Griffey Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero. Delgado launched five home runs in the opening round to advanced, but could only muster one homer in the semis and was eliminated.
Delgado returned to the Derby three years later against a field that included Garret Anderson, Albert Pujols and Jason Giambi. His second attempt was shorter than his first though, as he was eliminated in the first round after hitting only two home runs.
3. The God Bless America scandal
This selection isn’t meant to be anti-American so don’t look at it that way, but you have to admire Delgado for standing up for his beliefs amidst some harsh criticism.
Throughout his career, Delgado, a native of Puerto Rico, was a well-known peace activist who wasn’t afraid to stand up for what he believed in. He openly shared his views on America’s treatment of Puerto Rico and on America’s involvement in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
During the 2004 season Delgado began his own silent protest during the seventh inning stretch singing of God Bless America. Instead of standing out on the field, Delgado stayed in the dugout during the song. In the Toronto Star Delgado was quoted as saying “It’s a very terrible thing that happened on September 11. It’s (also) a terrible thing that happened in Afghanistan and Iraq, … I just feel so sad for the families that lost relatives and loved ones in the war. But I think it’s the stupidest war ever.” He also stated the playing of God Bless America was equated with a war he didn’t believe in. Not surprisingly Delgado was loudly booed the next time the Blue Jays played in New York.
If you believe in Delgado’s views or not you have to give him credit for sticking to his beliefs.
2. Delgado’s thunderous debut.
Delgado’s actual Major League debut came in 1993 when he appeared in two October games as a late season call up. However, he didn’t really appear on fans’ radars until the following season.
On opening day 1994 against the White Sox Delgado hit his first home run. It was a moon shot just to the right of Windows Restaurant in deep center field. The following day he crushed another one to deep right-center field.
The home runs kept coming too. In the Jays’ first four games he had three home runs. On April 11 he had his first multi-homer game with a pair of blasts versus the Oakland A’s. Through Toronto’s first 13 games Delgado was hitting .271 with a .352 OBP and a 1.123 OPS. He had eight home runs and 18 RBI.
The wheels quickly came off after that as Major League pitchers started to figure the young upstart out, but those first few weeks of the season gave Blue Jays a glimpse of what to expect for the future.
1. Delgado’s four home run game
On September 23, 2003 the Blue Jays played host to the Tampa Devil Rays. Sitting on 299 career home runs Delgado faced Devil Rays’ starter Jorge Sosa in the first inning and ripped his 300th career home run off Window Restaurant in center field.
In the fourth inning Delgado stepped in against Sosa again and blasted his second home run of the night to right field. Sosa mercifully had gotten the hook when Delgado’s came up to bat again in the sixth inning. Facing reliever Joe Kennedy Delgado parked his third home run of the night into the seats in right field.
In the eighth inning with the score tied 8-8 Delgado stepped in against Lance Carter. Delgado cranked a low offering from Carter to deep center, bouncing another ball off Windows Restaurant. Knowing the ball was gone as soon as he hit it Delgado gave an exuberant bat toss before rounding the bases.
Delgado became the 15th player in Major League history to hit four home runs in a game and the first to do it in only four at bats. The distances on Delgado’s home runs were 435 feet in the first, 380 feet in the fourth, 386 feet in the sixth and 445 feet in the eighth. That’s a combined 1646 feet.
Extra: My Moment:
I can’t remember which trip to Toronto it was, but during one of them when I was growing up I got a card signed by Delgado at SkyDome. That’s it in the badly taken picture above. If a player takes time to sign something for fans, especially kids that makes them all right in my books. So, aside from the heroics on the field, I’ll be wearing my No. 25 Delgado on Sunday to honor the guy who made a kids days a number of years ago.