Javier Baez was 23 and a rising star in 2016 when he split time playing second, third and shortstop for the Cubs, making a very good, very young team even better.
On this day in béisbol, Oct. 20, 2016, Chicago was on its way to reversing a World Series drought of more than a century as they battled the Dodgers in the NCLS — and Baez was on his way to his first defining moment in the national spotlight.
The native of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, smacked a bases-loaded double in the 8th inning of an eventual 8-4 win in Game 5 behind a strong outing by starter Jon Lester.
Baez’s two-bagger capped a 3-for-5 day and also helped sealed the NLCS MVP award, which he shared with Lester. Baez had 4 doubles, 5 RBI and a .318 average in the series.
“Amazing. Amazing,” Baez said in a post-game interview. “It’s crazy living this life right now.”
The Cubs clinched the pennant in Game 6 and went on to beat the Cleveland Indians in the World Series, its first championship since back-to-back rings in 1907 and 1908.
— Robert Dominguez
Robert Dominguez is co-author of “Bronx Bummers: The Unofficial History of the New York Yankees’ Bad Boys, Blunders and Brawls” and writer of the upcoming “El Salón: The Trials and Triumphs of Baseball’s Latino Hall of Famers.”
Photo: Minda Haas Kuhlmann — Under Creative Commons License