Carlos Delgado is now officially one of the Toronto Blue Jays’ greats.
The former slugger was inducted into the club’s Level of Excellence at Rogers Centre ahead of Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Delgado joins former players Dave Stieb, Roberto Alomar, Tony Fernandez, Joe Carter and George Bell, along with former manager Cito Gaston, former general manager Pat Gillick, late broadcaster Tom Cheek and current president and CEO Paul Beeston in being honoured by the club.
The 41-year-old Delgado was a member of the Blue Jays from 1993 to 2004 and is the franchise leader in home runs (336), RBIs (1,058), walks (827), slugging percentage (.556), OPS (.949), runs (889), total bases (2,786) and doubles (343).
“Twenty years ago on this very field I started living a dream,” Delgado said in his acceptance speech. “I want to say thank you to the Toronto organization for giving me the opportunity to come to professional baseball. For giving me the opportunity to become a major leaguer.”
Delgado was joined on the field by family and former teammates, including Alomar, Fernandez, Candy Maldonado, Shawn Green, Alex Gonzalez and Jose Cruz Jr.
He credited his teammates for helping get him to the Level of Excellence.
“Let me tell you something about teamwork. I always say you can’t drive yourself in. You can’t score from second if nobody drives you in,” said Delgado. “I tell you, it’s a great honour to strap it on and take the field with you every single day. I recognize you and it was an unbelievable pleasure playing with you guys. It wasn’t always pretty but we tried to make it work.”
The first baseman’s career, which also included stops with the Florida Marlins and New York Mets, ended with a hip injury that did not respond to surgery. The two-time all-star (2000, 2003) won the Hank Aaron Award and Sporting News Player of the Year Award in 2000 and the Silver Slugger Award in 1999, 2000 and 2003.