Delgado awed by 'electric' playoff atmosphere
Blue Jays legend throws first pitch before Game 4
TORONTO -- Carlos Delgado didn't play in a postseason during his long and fruitful career with the Blue Jays, but he did eventually get there, with the Mets, in 2006. So while he doesn't have October experience with the one team with whom he'll always be identified, he understands what the Blue Jays are going through as they grind through their postseason run.
Even while watching the Blue Jays falter in Game 4 and lose to the Royals, 14-2, Delgado could still appreciate how special it is for his team to be playing in the ALCS.
"It's electric," Delgado said, while watching the game from a suite in Rogers Centre. "It's unbelievable. It's hard to explain from one day to another. You just turn it up a notch or two. It's so much more intense -- the energy, the crowd. And everything is magnified."
Delgado was invited back to Toronto to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 4. The Blue Jays prefer to center their pregame ceremonies around celebrating the club's rich history, and they planned for a former star to throw out the first pitch before each of their ALCS home games.
Devon White threw out the pitch before Game 3, and Vernon Wells is on tap for Game 5. They reserved the middle game for the player who owns almost every offensive record in Blue Jays history. In 12 years with Toronto, Delgado, who officially retired in April 2011, is the Blue Jays' record-holder in 14 categories, including home runs (336), RBIs 1,058), walks (827) slugging percentage (.556) and OPS (.949).
Delgado, who played 17 years, retired with 473 home runs, 1,512 RBIs and a .280 lifetime average. He is also the record-holder for the most homers and RBIs among Puerto Rico-born players.
Having had these years to reflect on his accomplishments, Delgado spoke humbly about his standing as one of the all-time greatest Blue Jays.
"It's kind of funny because I'm not a big stats guy," he said. "It's an honor. When I was a kid, I didn't know I was going to end up playing baseball in Canada. What did I know?"
Certainly, not that he would eventually be considered one of the country's most celebrated athletes.
In July 2013, Delgado became the 10th person to be inducted into the Blue Jays Level of Excellence, which recognizes tremendous individual achievements. The other nine inductees are Roberto Alomar, Paul Beeston, George Bell, Joe Carter, Tom Cheek, Tony Fernandez, Cito Gaston, Pat Gillick and Dave Stieb.
Delgado was also inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in February.
"Having your name up there with the likes of Robbie Alomar and Cito Gaston, George Bell ... who doesn't like that?" Delgado said. "When you're playing, you don't care about that. You just want to get your hits and try to win. You want to try to have a better season than the previous one.
"You look back and you reflect and you say, it's pretty cool, it's something that you can tell your kids about. It doesn't make me better than anybody else. I just had the opportunity to play and make the best out of it. And now, you turn the page and it's time for these [current Blue Jays] to just go out and play."
Delgado, who is in his second year as a Blue Jays special assistant, was in Florida working with Minor League prospects when he received the call from the team to invite him to Toronto to throw out a first pitch during the ALCS.
As he made his way to the mound on Tuesday, with nearly 50,000 fans cascading him with adoring cheers, Delgado had just one thing in mind -- the same thought most first-pitch throwers have: don't bounce it.
"Just get on the bump, get it up in the air, you don't have to throw a strike," he said with a laugh. "But coming back to Toronto is always a great thing. I love the city. I have always been grateful because they've shown me a lot of support, a lot of love. Who doesn't like the cheer?"