Tuesday night, Francisco Lindor became a household name. That’s when he earned everyone in America a free taco when he stole the first base of the 2016 World Series. Once again this year, Taco Bell ran their “Steal a Base, Steal a Taco” promotion, which grants everyone in the nation a free taco, provided there’s a stolen base during any game of the World Series.
He may be basking in the Taco Hero limelight now, but Lindor’s life wasn’t always free tacos and stolen bases on one of sport’s biggest stages. While he obviously has a lot of natural talent, Lindor has become the talk of Cleveland through his tireless dedication.
He honed his defensive skills with the help of his father and a slightly unorthodox fielding drill. The elder Lindor would stand halfway up a steep hill near their house in Gurabo, Puerto Rico, and hit blistering grounders down the hill at his son. If Francisco didn’t stop them, he had to make the 200 yard walk into the brush and dirt to find them.
Lindor’s dedication to being the best he can be was evident before he even made it to the big leagues. Every spring, at the end of the first full-squad workout, the Indians hold an endurance test that consists of a series of repeated sprints. The sprints continue until only one man is left standing. Lindor was that man in 2015, impressing teammates and coaches alike.
“You’ve got to be in good shape to do it, but at some point it’s not about how fast you are.” said Indians’ manager Terry Francona of the test. “It’s about your will to continue, because it’s easy to stop.”
After finishing as the runner-up for Rookie of the Year in 2015 to Correa, Lindor got right back to work. He trained this past offseason in Florida with Hall of Famer Barry Larkin.
More recently, Lindor spent the offseason getting ready for 2016, his first full season in the majors, by arriving at the Indians’ spring training facility in Goodyear, AZ, to get in agility training and resisted sprints every morning at 6:30 am before joining the rest of the team when full workouts began later in the day.
Whether it’s earning a nation’s gratitude or bringing the first World Series title to Cleveland since 1948, Lindor has done it all through hard work and total commitment.