Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Carlos Delgado said there was "double meaning" in his being selected as the Mets' 2006 recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award, recognizing players who exemplify the game through sportsmanship, community involvement and positive contributions to their teams.

Delgado is now eligible to win the national 2006 Roberto Clemente Award, which will be selected from among the 30 nominees representing each Major League club.

"I think it's pretty cool for me," Delgado said. "I'm Puerto Rican and he's an icon in Puerto Rico, where he represents both on the field and off the field. It's a great honor. I don't want to compare myself by any means to him, but I'm in a fortunate position where I can help others. It gives me a lot of satisfaction and a lot of joy."

Delgado wears No. 21 to honor the late Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder. He selected the number when he was first promoted to the Toronto Blue Jays, but yielded it to Roger Clemens in favor of No. 25. This season with the Mets, Kaz Matsui wore No. 25, so Delgado took the opportunity to return to his original -- and Clemente's -- number.

Still, Delgado said he agreed with those who have suggested Major League Baseball should universally retire Clemente's number, as was done in 1997 with Jackie Robinson's No. 42.

"I think Clemente represents an icon, a person who opened a lot of doors for his community," Delgado said. "For us, that was crucial. I don't know if it's going to happen or not, but if they ask me, they'll get my vote. I'll be the first one to take that jersey off my back."

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