On the Road: Delmarva's unique fan club

A decade later, Pedro Florimon is still a Shorebirds cult hero

While Pedro Florimon is long gone from the Delmarva Shorebirds, his fan club remains. Jeff Bacon (center) is its founder and president.

By Benjamin Hill / MiLB.com | May 31, 2018 10:00 AM

Pedro Florimon, a slick-fielding utility infielder who is currently a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, has played in nearly three times as many Minor League games as he has Major League games. He leads an up-and-down, peripatetic baseball existence, and has rarely been in one place long enough to cultivate a devoted following.

But nonetheless, Pedro Florimon has his own fan club. And more than a decade into its existence, it's still going strong.

The ragtag collection of individuals who belong to the Pedro Florimon Fan Club can be found at Perdue Stadium, home of the Delmarva Shorebirds (Class A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles). At May 4's game, this writer spoke with Pedro Florimon Fan Club president Jeff Bacon. Sitting alongside him was Keith Messick, whom Bacon described as the club treasurer, "[should] we ever have any money."

Florimon suited up for the Shorebirds for the entirety of the 2007 and 2008 campaigns, and he certainly did not distinguish himself offensively during that time. Over 640 total at-bats, he hit a paltry .208 and slugged an even-more-paltry .293.

But Bacon, a devoted Shorebirds fan, nonetheless liked what he saw. Florimon, whose uniform number was 2, was No. 1 in his eyes.

"Pedro was a shortstop, and he was a great fielder but he couldn't hit," said Bacon. "I'm a member of the Delmarva Shorebirds Fan Club, and a number of our members thought that Pedro had no ability at all. Every time someone would say, 'But Pedro made a great play!' I'd hear, 'No, he'll never make the Major Leagues, he'll never do this, he'll never do that. He'll never amount to anything.'

Pedro Florimon struck out 204 times over 192 games with Delmarva. (Joy R. Absalon/MiLB.com)

"But I really saw something in him," he continued. "He was so graceful in the field. And I thought, 'All he needs is some people who think he's got talent and abilities. Every time he makes a great play, we can cheer for him and the people who think he has no ability, we can get in their face a little bit."

Bacon recruited a couple of like-minded fans who were willing to vociferously root for Florimon, and showed up to the ballpark one day (he doesn't remember exactly when) toting a spray-painted bedsheet bearing the words "Pedro Florimon Fan Club." He hung it from a railing in front of his front row second-level seats -- located on the first base side of the ballpark -- and that's how it all began. At any given ballgame, there was now a small group of fans dedicated to the message that No. 2 was No. 1

"Pedro spoke very limited English, but we knew that Pedro knew we were here and that his teammates communicated to him about it," Bacon said. "We know he approved of it. We just had a feeling that everything was good."

2018 Road Trip

Bacon's bedsheet banner was soon supplemented with a variety of trinkets and toys, which are spread out on a wall beneath the railing from which the banner hangs. These include, but are not limited to, chickens, turtles, rabbits, bears, a headphones-wearing smiley face and a doll named Esmerelda.

"Different people have provided different things, like the pink Cadillac with Barbie in it and the mastodon down there," said Bacon, gesturing to his left. "They were all perfectly suited to be out there, especially the chickens. We have a nice group of chickens...

"But with Esmerelda, that's when the fan club really started to blossom. If she used her powers, which she does have, she'd put a spell on the opposition to cause them to misplay balls and encourage bad play on the field. For a long time she was very effective, but she went into a little slump when Pedro left. She was upset."

Jeff Bacon is the president of the Pedro Florimon Fan Club and "keeper of the stuff."

Of course, Pedro left long ago. He did not return to the Shorebirds in 2009, having received a promotion to Class A Advanced Frederick. He made his Major League debut with the Orioles in 2011, and went on to play for the Minnesota Twins and Pittsburgh Pirates before landing with the Phillies.

But while Florimon is long gone from Delmarva, his fan club has always remained.

"We've had [the fan club] out every year," said Bacon. "We used to do it more often, but it's a lot of stuff and I am the keeper of the stuff."

And why wouldn't the Pedro Florimon Fan Club persist? After all, the man whom it honors is still going strong.

"It means that we are good at assessing talent at this level," Bacon said. "We were right!"

Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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