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Javy Baez Emerges as a Symbol for Chicago’s Puerto Rican Community

Javy Baez Emerges as a Symbol for Chicago’s Puerto Rican Community

Posted by PanamericanWorld on November 04, 2016

Game seven World Series win will be undoubtedly be etched into the historical memory of Chicagoans for generations to come, but for the city’s proud Puerto Rican community – centered around the northwestern neighborhood of Humboldt Park – the win may literally be etched into the the physical landscape of their neighborhood. Just two days before the Cubs took home the title of world champions, and in the midst of a still very uncertain outcome for the series, 26th ward alderman Roberto Maldonado proposed naming part of a local avenue after the Cubs’ Puerto Rican-born second baseman, Javier Baez.

Maldonado explained his reasoning in a brief Facebook post, where he called Baez an “incredible Chicago Cubs second baseman, competitor, and role model proudly representing Puerto Rico.” Indeed, over the course of this historical post-season, the 23-year-old native of Bayamón by way of Jacksonville, FL has emerged as one of the most electrifying and dynamic players on the Cubs already talented roster. But the significance of the bat-and-ball for Humboldt Park Puerto Ricans goes deeper than an emotional post-season rally or a fleeting world title.

Humboldt Park's Paseo Boricua

Humboldt Park’s Paseo Boricua

In fact, it wouldn’t even be the first neighborhood landmark dedicated to a Puerto Rican baseball icon, and a hypothetical Javy Baez Way would only be a few short blocks away from nearby Roberto Clemente High School. Christened in 1972, Clemente has developed a reputation for producing some of the state’s most talented baseball players, while also emerging as a hotbed for Puerto Rican nationalist activity due to its connections to the ongoing campaign to free political prisoner Oscar López Rivera.

Clemente also inspired the name of Humboldt Park’s iconic weekend softball leagues, whose teams typically bear the names of Puerto Rican towns and retain a competitive relationship with their counterparts on the island. Known for their high level of play, the leagues are a cherished symbol of community pride to this day and a fixture of the urban park from which the neighborhood takes its name. Their importance was even recognized with a special dedication at last year’s 37th Puerto Rican People’s Parade.

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