New York Mets Star Shortstop Francisco Lindor Stays Grounded by His Roots
With his assorted hair colors and bravado style, New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor has reached iconic status in Major League Baseball (MLB). However, Lindor remains centered by his modest upbringing in Caguas, Puerto Rico. One reminder of his evolution: the hometown sporting goods store that he visited so often as a child presently features his signature shoe.
The Shoe Deal
At the beginning of the 2021 season, Lindor became the first Puerto Rican MLB player with a signature shoe. He joins Roberto Clemente and Sammy Sosa as the only Latinos in MLB history to get a shoe line. The significance of this accomplishment goes far beyond baseball or sports marketing, especially for Latin Americans.
New Balance unveiled the 27-year-old Mets star’s signature shoe and apparel line in February 2021. A month later, the “Lindor 1” shoe became available for sale. The shoe features a bold floral pattern design resembling the official flower of Puerto Rico, the Flor de Maga. In addition, Lindor’s signature apparel and shoes feature his favorite slogans of “Stay Positive” and “Be Consistent.”
In 2017, Lindor officially signed a multi-year endorsement contract with New Balance as the face of their best-selling cleat division. At this stage of his career with the Cleveland Indians, a signature shoe was not part of the plan. However, after the 2017 season, the young star shortstop distinguished himself with:
- Finishing fifth in the American League MVP voting
- Winning his first Silver Slugger award
- 33 home runs and a .273 batting average
- Hitting the first grand slam of his major league career
- Becoming the third shortstop in MLB history to hit a postseason grand slam
These on-the-field results and Lindor’s growing popularity gave birth to the development of the Lindor 1. It took two years for the product and brand design teams to develop the entire shoe and apparel campaign. Now, Lindor’s signature shoe and apparel can be a source of pride for baseball fans of Puerto Rican heritage.
Al’s Sport Shop
In the mid-1990s, Al’s Sports in Caguas became a frequent stop for Francisco, his parents, and his older brother. He was only about four years old when his father started teaching the two boys how to play baseball. On these trips to Al’s Sports, the young baseball player had often tried on a glove or a pair of cleated shoes that he wanted to use right away, but Lindor would often have to wait a few weeks or a few months before he got the equipment.
Through the store’s layaway plan, Lindor’s parents managed to pay for the boy’s baseball equipment by paying $10 or $20 every two weeks until the equipment was in the boy’s hands. Lindor has commented that the wait made the moment even sweeter when he would use a new bat on the field for the first time. Now, Al’s Sports will be the source of new excitement for kids who try on the shoes of their hometown hero. Lindor was once like them with a dream and a desire to succeed.
The Early Days
When Lindor was a child, his personality didn’t hint at the flamboyant Mets star he is today. Nicknamed Paquito, locals on the island knew him as a shy and gifted athlete. He was the second-youngest of four children of Miguel Angel Lindor and Maria Serrano.
At age 12, Lindor moved with his family to Florida, where he excelled at Montverde Academy near the Orlando area. He played well enough to make USA Today’s All-USA high school baseball team. Then, at the age of 17, Lindor had to make a tough decision when he received a full scholarship offer from Florida State University and became an eighth all-around pick in the 2011 MLB First-Year Player draft. He was also a second-round pick of the Indios de Mayagüez club in Puerto Rico.
Eventually, he passed on the Florida State scholarship and playing in Puerto Rico to pursue his ambition to play in the MLB by signing a $2.9 million contract with the Cleveland Indians.
Off to a Great Start With the Indians
After playing four years in the minor leagues, Lindor joined the Indians’ active roster in June 2015. His rookie MLB season turned out to be a breakout year that included a .313 batting average and 12 home runs. The following year, he won the Golden Glove Award, made his first of four All-Star appearances, and started at shortstop in the World Series.
How the New York Mets Got Francisco Lindor
Prior to the 2021 season, the Mets acquired Lindor as part of a trade that sent him and Carlos Carrascos to New York for middle infielders Amed Rosario, Andres Gimenez, and two prospects.
Lindor’s existing contract made him a free agent in 2021, but the Mets management began negotiating an extension with Lindor’s agents. The result was a 10-year, $341 million extension. To date, this is the most expensive player deal in Mets history.
The Impact of Lindor’s Story
From the shy and gifted kid from Puerto Rico to a brash Mets shortstop sensation, Francisco Lindor gives youngsters another excellent example of the benefits of working hard to achieve their dreams and ambitions.