USA TODAY Sports Weekly is celebrating its 20th anniversary. What most people probably do not remember is that at the beginning was Baseball Weekly.
Since its first edition in April, 1991 it was a success. As Paul White recently wrote “We made it. And we made friends among baseball fans because that's what we were: fans who happened to be in the journalism business rather than journalists who happened to be on the baseball beat”.
In its first year it was a tremendous honor to be part of the new publication as the Puerto Rico Winter League correspondent and in a time that there was supposed to be little baseball news it was my work to bring American fans the new names coming from the U.S. Commonwealth island.
In four years, up to 1995, I have the chore to bring up the prospects and rising stars and fortuitous for me such names as nowadays Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar, Carlos Baerga, Juan Gonzalez and Carlos Delgado they are all today part of the history of Baseball/Sports Weekly covers.
Oddly, one of my last assignments was a feature article of then a young Carlos Delgado. We called it the next Superman from Puerto Rico and really he was.
Over 17 seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, Florida Marlins and New York Mets, Delgado, who retired from Major League Baseball last week, hit .280 career batting average with 473 homers and 1,512 RBI’s which both the latter are an all-time record for Puerto Rican-born players.
Delgado, who resides in Puerto Rico, his best two seasons came with Toronto in 2000 and 2003. In 2000 he played in all162 games, collected 196 hits — including 41 home runs and an American League-best 57 doubles — and posted career highs in batting average (.344) and slugging percentage (.664). In 2003 he hit .302 with 42 home runs and 145 RBI’s. The two-time All-Star remains Toronto's all-time leader in six offensive categories.
Among honors, Delgado won the Hank Aaron Award and The Sporting News Player of the Year in 2000, the Silver Slugger Award in 1999, 2000 and 2003, and the Roberto Clemente Award in 2006.
For the last 25 years I have been covering the Major League Baseball beat of the Puerto Rican and Latin American players, and over that time I have seen a bunch of great players and some of them in their path to the Hall of Fame.
From today’s active players Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera and Omar Vizquel they all should be Cooperstown bound. In Delgado’s case it will be interesting where the baseball writers will go in this steroid era.
Hope Sports Weekly goes 20 more and Carlos Delgado in the span makes it to the Hall same as fellow Puerto Rican Edgar Martinez and the “Dominican Dandy Part II” Pedro Martinez.