On Monday it emerged that the Puerto Rican shortstop of the New York Mets, Francisco Lindorhe gave a Ford Bronco bus to his teammate, second baseman Jeff McNeil, for winning the National League batting title in the 2022 campaign.
It is a good time to remember the gesture that the then star pitcher of the Major Leagues once had, Rogers Clemenswith the Puerto Rican starter Carlos Delgado upon his arrival to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Looking ahead to the 1997 season, Clemens agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract with the Blue Jays. Clemens wore number 21 on his uniform. And when he arrived in Toronto it was not available, since Delgado used it in honor of the legendary Puerto Rican player, Roberto Clemente.
Clemens arrived at 34 years old and had a brilliant career in his first 13 seasons with the Boston Red Sox, accumulating three Cy Young awards and one Most Valuable Award.
Delgado, for his part, was coming off his first full season with the Blue Jays, accumulating 138 games in 1996.
So, Clemens approached Delgado to allow him to use that number and Delgado agreed without problems.. He once said that he didn’t need the number to honor Clemente.
“What you wear on the inside is more important than what you wear on the outside,” said Delgado, who would later wear number 25.
And Clemens, in gratitude, gave him a luxurious Rolex watch. According to press reports at the time, the garment had an estimated value of $15,000.
Gifts between teammates are most common in the exchange of uniform numbers. There are very superstitious players and sometimes they reflect it in the numbers. For others, the number is for a very personal matter, while for others it has simply brought them luck.
Clemens, in his case, won the Cy Young in his first year with the Blue Jays in 1997.