As the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Cubs face each other in the World Series, special attention is being paid to two Puerto Rican infielders who have an unusually friendly rivalry: Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez.
Both players are natives of Puerto Rico, and both moved with their families from the U.S. territory to the State of Florida at the age of 12, like many other people from Puerto Rico who seek better economic and healthcare opportunities in the states. (Baez’s sister was born with spina bifida and Lindor’s step-sister has cerebral palsy.)
Lindor, who plays for the Indians, and Baez, who plays for the Cubs, grew up just 15 miles apart and played on opposing teams in high school. They were chosen back to back as shortstops in the 2011 draft and have made their marks since. Sports writers repeatedly describe them as “break-out talents” — and often together, as a pair of excellent baseball players from Puerto Rico.
“We follow the same route to the majors. He left to help his family, and I did the same for mine, looking for a better future,” Lindor said in an interview with Fox News Latino. “We are two shortstops from Puerto Rico, drafted eight and nine, now playing each other in the World Series, still growing. This is insane. It’s a blessing. I feel so proud for Puerto Rico.”
MLB columnist Anthony Castrovince believes that coming to the states was essential for the two players’ success. “When Baez and Lindor moved to Florida, they fundamentally improved their eventual Draft stock because of the number of eyes that would be upon them,” he wrote.
The World Series will be the first time the two have played on the same field since high school, but they’ve kept in touch since those days. In fact, their families gathered for Thanksgiving a few years ago, sharing food and a paintball game.
“I’m super excited to be able to play against him,’’ Lindor was quoted as saying in a CSNChicago article. “I’m eager to say hello and give him a hug…. I’m happy for him, happy for his family because he deserves it. All the things he has done, I’m super happy for him. I can’t wait to go out there and have fun. I just want to see him and give him a hug and say congrats.”