(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
On Friday afternoon of the final weekend of the regular MLB season, Felix De Jesus, the host of the popular radio show on ESPN Deportes, “El Mundo de las Grandes Ligas”, presented the final luncheon of the year at Café Rubio, 985 Northern Boulevard in Corona, Queens, in which two Latino infielders of the New York Mets, Wilmer Flores and Dilson Herrera were saluted. Juan Uribe was also scheduled to be recognized, but informed De Jesus that he had been injured and scheduled for a doctor’s appointment on Friday.
The three players of the National League champion Mets, Wilmer Flores, Dilson Herrera and Juan Uribe, are all infielders. Flores, 24, was signed as a non-drafted free agent at the age of 16 in 2010 by the Pittsburgh Pirates. The native of Valencia, Venezuela was obtained by the Mets in the Marlon Byrd trade in the summer of 2013. His great minor league season in 2014 earned him the Sterling Organizational player of the year. He made his major league debut with the Mets on August 29. Flores’s emotional disappointment after being told he would be traded from the Mets in July made him an instant hero to fans of the franchise in Queens.
Herrera, a native of Cartagena, Colombia, is the first of his country to play for the Mets and the fourteenth Colombian to be in MLB. He signed as a non-drafted free agent with the Mets on his 16th birthday on August 6, 1991. His great success in the minors gave him two opportunities to play in All-Star Futures’ Games and become a three-time Sterling Award winner. He had another meaningful birthday present in 1993 as it was the date of his major league debut.
Juan Romero, the owner of the outstanding restaurant in Queens, welcomed all the guests and gave words of good fortune to the Mets and Yankees in the post-season. De Jesus, emceed the event with his usual graciousness, intelligence, good humor and outgoing personality. All the guests, sponsors and media representatives were introduced. A special guest was Melissa Rodriguez of the New York Mets Media relations Department.
Both players were then introduced and responded to questions. They expressed their pleasure of being on the Mets, and explaining why they chose baseball as a career rather than soccer, an extremely popular sport in their native lands.
Each of the honorees was presented with gifts from the sponsors of the event. The sponsors included Ron Barceló, Merengue Car Service, Café La Llave, Mamita Wines, ESPN 1050 NY, Alexis Barber Shop, Inca Cola and pioneer Supermarkets.
The final activity, as always, was the enjoyable raffle, especially to the winners of gifts.