It feels like so long ago, yet at the same it feels like just yesterday that Carlos Delgado left Toronto to sign with the Florida Marlins.
At the time, I knew it was necessary to let him go. Salary-wise there just wasn’t room. But I always regretted the fact that he didn’t stay in Toronto, didn’t finish his career as a Blue Jay.
In fact, after announcing his retirement today, the long time Blue Jay great will technically finish his career as a member of the Boston Red Sox. Though he never played a single game for them, Boston was the last team to sign him to a contract, in August of 2010.
But, despite a great year in Florida and two outstanding seasons with the Mets, Delgado will always be considered a Blue Jay.
The numbers he put up north of the border are staggering.
– 9 full seasons
– 324 home runs
– .961 OPS
– 1,023 RBI
– 1,370 hits
– 2 All-Star appearances
– 3 Silver Slugger Awards
– 4 Top-25 MVP Finishes
But there was more to Delgado than the numbers. There was a feeling about him, an aura that surrounded him. When he strode to the plate, there was a buzz in the stadium. People stopped to watch him bat. Fans would time their beer trips and bathroom breaks so as not to miss a Delgado plate appearance. He was the only player I can remember in my lifetime as a Jays fan who inspired that feeling. Jose Bautista is starting to create that level of excitement now – but he has a long way to go reach Carlos.
Delgado was special. A special player who produced many special moments, including my favourite – a 4 homer game in 2003 against Tampa Bay.
Of all the sporting disappointments I’ve expereienced in this city of sports hell, the biggest is the fact that the Toronto Blue Jays never made the playoffs with Delgado. Despite a hugely promising nucleus of Delgado, Roy Halladay, and Vernon Wells, they came up short year after year. It would have been nice seeing that huge smile lifting the World Series trophy.
Regardless, Delgado was the man in Toronto for a long time.
Though his numbers likely aren’t good enough for the Hall of Fame, there is no doubt he will be enshrined soon on the Level of Excellence.
Until that time, 500 Level Fan bids Carlos Delgado a fond farewell.
Happy retirement Carlos.