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Latino Sports Feature: Francisco Lindor Exemplifies the True Essence of Puerto Rico

Credit: Frank Hyatt/ Latino Sports

Those who have been on the island of Puerto Rico know about the majestic sunsets that sink into the depths of the Caribbean Sea, the delicious foods that cater to the sound of your stomach’s rumble and the people who welcome you with open arms. 

Puerto Rico is where 26 of Major League Baseball’s active players call home. Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor, or better known as “Paquito” and “Mr. Smile,” is one of those players who proudly represents his island. Lindor’s love for his island runs through his veins; it’s as evident as the smile that captivates his love for the game of baseball.  

Lindor was born in Caguas, a municipality tucked in the central mountains of Puerto Rico. Like many of the over three million people who call the island home, Lindor fell in love with the game of baseball at a young age.  

“Since I was a little kid I just liked to have fun, that’s how I saw the game. It was a fun game for me to get my mind off of problems, get my mind off of things like school and things I was going through in life. I had a great childhood, I’m not complaining but it was something that was my escape and it’s still my escape. When I come here all my problems and the things I’m going through in life, I’m not worried about that. When I’m on the baseball field, I’m enjoying life. My mom is a happy person, my dad is more passionate about things and I’m mixed with both.”

– Francisco Lindor

Francisco Lindor enjoying time on the field against the Houston Astros at Progressive Field (Frank Hyatt/ Latino Sports)

Lindor has become one of Puerto Rico’s most beloved baseball players, loved by many on the island and those who reside beyond the shores of Puerto Rico. He poses as a figure of representation: a person who reflects the true essence of Puerto Rico. This is true in the way Lindor carries himself on and off the field.

The flow, the rhythm, the sazón that we have inside of us is a little different from other places. We are very passionate about things, once we put our mind to things we go get them no matter what. In a way we’re stubborn as well, when someone says we can’t do something we say, ‘Alright, we’re going to go do it.’ That’s something that has helped me in my career as well as being able to have a lot of pride in what I do because we have a lot of pride in that little island. That pride that I have to represent the Cleveland Indians, represent my family, represent Puerto Rico, it’s great. On a daily basis I remind myself, ‘Don’t forget where you come from.’”

– Francisco Lindor

Francisco Lindor takes time to talk to a young fan during kids day at Progressive Field on Sunday afternoon. (Dustin Livesay/ Latino Sports)

When Lindor is on a mission, he’s on a mission. Game by game. Series by series.

The Cleveland Indians currently sit on top the American League Wild Card and lie 4 1/2 games back of the Minnesota Twins for sole possession of the American League Central. As a leader in the clubhouse and someone who has been down this path with the chase for October down to its final stretch, Lindor has one message for his team: It’s go time.

“Enjoy the ride, have fun when that day is given. We have earned to be in the big leagues and blessed to make a lot of money. Just enjoy the ride and have fun. At the end of the day, whatever happens, it’s going to happen no matter what. If it’s meant for us to be in the Postseason, we’re going to be in it. Just make sure when we’re in, it’s go time. Even though the guys know right now, it’s go time. We’re all having fun, backing each other up no matter what. But the Postseason is the best thing in the world.”

– Francisco Lindor    

 

Lindor and Indians outfielder Greg Allen celebrate a victory in the Bronx against the Yankees (Daniel Budasoff/ Latino Sports)

In July 2019, a revolution was ignited on the island of Puerto Rico that ousted the governor of Puerto Rico from office. Puerto Ricans on the island and around the globe used their voices to incite systemic change within the Puerto Rican government. Even though Lindor could not physically be in Puerto Rico in a time that unity strengthened the island, his mind was where it needed to be, with his people.

I’m extremely proud of the people in Puerto Rico. They stepped up, they stuck together, they did it safely and they accomplished their mission. I’m very proud, I’m proud of Bad Bunny, Residente, Ricky Martin, along with all the civilians that went out there and they did the right thing for their country. It’s impressive. I always say not too many people are born to be the Martin Luther King’s or the Jackie Robinson’s and Muhammad Ali’s in life, and they did it. They did it. But there’s very few that would put their jobs and life on the line to help others. And they did those things. I am proud to be Puerto Rican, I’m proud of them and to say that I know them. Through the power of social media, they did it. I’m very proud of all of them and I thank them because it’ll be better for my nieces and nephews and when I have kids.”

– Francisco Lindor 

 

Francisco Lindor, Daddy Yankee and Red Soxs manager Alex Cora representing the island of Puerto Rico ahead of the 2019 All-Star Game (Julio Pabón/ Latino Sports)

Many tend to forget that Lindor is only 25 years old (he’ll be 26 on Nov. 14). Lindor was born into the big leagues on June 14, 2015. In the span of five seasons Lindor has been a four-time All-Star, a two-time Silver Slugger Award winner, a LatinoMVP Award recipient, he has helped the Cleveland Indians capture the 2016 American League Pennant and has become the face and leader for the Cleveland Indians.

Has he given himself the chance to reflect on his astounding résumé in MLB?

“I reflect a lot on how blessed I am and how you can’t take anything for granted. The Lord has blessed me with health and the great group of guys around me, I can’t really take that for granted. The awards and all that I’ve accomplished, not really. That’s something not too many players will sit down during their careers and start saying ‘I’ve done this, I’ve done that.’ Not really. I don’t play for awards, I play to win (the World Series). That’s what I’m missing. It’s my routine to work as hard as I can to accomplish that and once I accomplish that then continue to work as hard as I can to repeat it. The awards are great, I’ve been blessed to be voted to the All-Star four times by the players which means a lot. I’m just happy, enjoying life, enjoying the ride.”

– Francisco Lindor

Francisco Lindor talks to the media ahead of the 2019 All-Star Game in Cleveland (Nicole Pérez/ Latino Sports)

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