Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez earned a special honor during the team’s off-day Tuesday, as he had a Chicago street named after him.
Just 24 years of age and Javier Baez already won a World Series with the Chicago Cubs, earned NLCS co-MVP honors and – now – has a street in Chicago named after him.
Under cloudy skies in Humboldt Park, which has a large Puerto Rican population, Baez was joined by Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel and 26th Ward Alderman Roberto Maldonado. For the mayor, he sees the impact this team has made on the city already.
"“When I was growing up in the city of Chicago, it was that you always wanted to grow up and be like Mike,” Emanuel said. “In the city of Chicago, people now are growing up and kids are saying they want to be like Javy.”"
Running near Little Cubs Field in Humboldt Park, along W. Luis Munoz Drive, “Javier ‘Javy’ Baez Way” is just the latest piece of the legacy left in wake of last year’s title. Of course, memories will live on forever – but a street sign is fairly permanent, too.
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Baez has shown marked improvement since joining the big league club. He drastically cut down his strikeout percentage and became an elite defender – at multiple positions. His quick reflexes and strong baseball IQ rank among some of the game’s best.
An inspiration on and off the diamond
Baez has been dealt several big blows in life. Most recently, he lost his beloved sister Noely in 2015, one year before he helped the Cubs win it all. Maldonado said that Baez’s character and resolve inspires – and is a testament to the city.
"“It is more than just the game of baseball,” Maldonado said. “For Javy, it is the spirit of his beloved father and sister that gave life to the game and helped him achieve greatness. Javy is such an inspiration to so many young people who have faced tragic times and had to deal with losses.”"
If you didn’t watch him on a daily basis, maybe Baez isn’t an ideal player. He can be a little too excitable, at times. He likes the pomp and circumstance that comes with being a star. But there’s no denying one thing. This kid can play the game with the best of them.
No one knows what the future holds for Javier Baez and the Chicago Cubs. But one thing is for sure: he’s left his mark on this team, this city and the nation of Puerto Rico.