CHICAGO (CBS) — In a season filled with great Chicago Cubs baseball, this one is a stand out!
Chicago Cubs Infielder, Javier Baez was honored Friday by Illinois Secretary of State as Illinois’ Sportsman of the Year.
“How we doing? I don’t know what to say,” laughed Javier Baez, Cubs infielder.
You can’t blame the 22-year old for being a bit speechless. He’s had quite the week. After a stellar performance during the National League Division Series against the San Francisco Giants, he was honored as Illinois ‘Sportsman of the Year’ and given a commemorative license plate that read ‘Javy 23.’
“Today we are here to honor a gentlemen who has distinguished himself on the baseball field, Javier Baez. If you’ve seen his plays, his stick, his bat you understand why he’s here today,” said Jesse White, Illinois Secretary of State.
Baez was honored as part of Hispanic Heritage Month. He says he’s proud to represent Latinos in Chicago.
“There are a lot of Latinos here,” Baez said. “Especially Puerto Ricans where I’m from, so I got a lot of support from them.”
He hit a solo home run which won the first game of the series at Wrigley, got the go-ahead single during the ninth-inning rally that defeated the San Francisco Giants in game four and displayed his fielding prowess and quick reflexes throughout the series.
He said he is humbled by all the attention he’s been given lately.
“I just go out there and have fun and play the game,” Baez said. “I like to have fun out there. I play like a kid and it’s making me play better and helping my team.”
His sister Noely, died last year of Spina Bifida. She was eleven months younger than Baez.
“One of my biggest dreams was letting my sister see me play baseball in the highest level and she finally did,” Baez said. “So I’m happy and she knows I always do this for her and my dad.”
Does he believe in curses? He and his young teammates don’t even think about that .
“For me it doesn’t mean anything,” Baez said. “It’s something we don’t pay attention to, we just have to play our game.”
Baez grew up in Puerto Rico and moved to the United States when he was 12. He was joined at the ceremony by his mother, brother and girlfriend.
“I’m so happy to be here and I’m proud of my son to be honored in baseball,” said Nelida Agosto, Baez’s mother. “My son is everything for me, he’s my life.”
“I dreamt to be there all my life,” Baez said. “Now I’m living my dream with my family, having fun. But it’s not over. Hopefully we can bring that W to Chicago.”
The Cubs host game one of the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Wrigley Field on Saturday night.