By: Guillermina Esquivel
I know someone who did not get to see his daughter for 15 summers. Visa not available, no money for flight, no money for a babysitter, no room in his shared living space. This, for so many Dominican baseball players, is their cruel reality. By the time my friend got to spend a summer with his daughter in the United States, she was a teenager. Baseball is their Faustian bargain, and they choose to play.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that Latino players, almost universally, are ready to play ball. This should be a far more significant point than is currently recognized by the public or acknowledged by their union brethren. A massive segment of players whose voices matter the same as those in the union are being drowned out by higher-profile players who simply are willing to speak louder.
Anyone who has an exorbitant contract needs to sit this one out, you are outnumbered. There are 1200 members in MLBPA and I am pretty sure that many are ready to play AND get paid. The average salary is approximately $4M and the league minimum was set to increase from $555,000 to $563,500 this year. Not all players have the luxury of taking care of just themselves or immediate family; Sometimes their counterparts have at least 25 family members whom they will take care of. Alot of it can be blamed on the corruption in their respective countries but that's a topic for another day.
Access to a quality education that affords them the knowledge of financial literacy is nonexistent and that is vital in preventing them from becoming part of the 78% who wind up broke just two years after retirement. Maybe just maybe being a little informed could help them avoid predatory lenders who give them loans for 10% of their lifetime contracts. So many arrive to the majors already in debt.
Most of these players do not have an education past elementary school level and only recently academies in the Dominican began to offer a high school diploma. Anyone with common sense would question how that was even possible when there is a tremendous gap between the level of schooling acquired and getting a diploma. Makes one question if the program implemented is a complete farce.
Is anyone surprised why their Latino counterparts aren't as vocal as American players? Is there just no empathy or any desire to be an ally? A single, monolithic experience does not exist. It is unfortunate that those who stand up for these players tend to be reporters or someone that works closely with these players instead of some of their own colleagues.