This is part III of the Juan Dominguez series. If you have not yet read the other entries, please read in order for this post to make sense...
Life in the Dominican Republic does not come easy, nor does baseball. Making a life of baseball is everyone's dream, few make it. In Juan's case, he already made it to the highest position; the MLB. He just failed to stay.
After playing in the MLB, he returned back the Dominican Republic with no money as his family spent it all. His family had been known to show up in times of his life when he had money and disappear when the money was gone. His childhood was anything but healthy; he had no real role model and had to basically grow up on his own.
Juan struggled with depression throughout his life, including his stay with the Rangers. His missed meetings were interpreted by the Rangers in the wrong way; he was viewed as a "head case" and immature. The truth was that he struggled with severe depression, language barrier, and no one to talk to.
After life back in the Dominican for a few years, it seemed that Juan was back on track. This is about the time when I last posted an entry about Juan Dominquez. Juan was back in winter leagues, getting lots of attention by MLB scouts and gaining his confidence and velocity back. Most importantly, he felt good again. His depression was being treated and his life was changing. He was forming a bond with his new born son who when asked if he wanted his son to play baseball, he responded by saying he wanted him to "be a pitcher like me".
Dominguez was serious about returning to the MLB. This did not work out as numerous scouts told him they could not fit him on any of their rosters. The most notable teams were the Marlins and Nationals.
A few independent leagues showed immediate interest. They were willing to take him on right away, but the situation did not fit. These teams were located in remote small cities in Texas and Nevada. Juan’s previous problem was isolating himself when he was in the MLB which brought him even more depression. Being placed in a small U.S. city not knowing anyone making less than 22k proved not to be a good situation for him.
Juan did not want this situation for himself, he said no to independent league. This proved to be his downfall, since no MLB team was willing to take a risk putting him on their roster. His options were running out, and this is when his anxiety and depression came back.
Juan realized his baseball career may be coming to an end. He is approaching his late 20’s, and no team wanted to take a risk with him. Baseball is all he knows how to do, this is the only thing he has ever done. He has no education to have a real job or training of any sort. This is when he sank into deep depression once again is his young life.
Juan had been living with Mr. Santos this entire time. Juan did not have any other place to stay, he had no money. Mr. Santos was kind enough too paid for his food and for him to live.
One day Mr. Santos noticed that Juan was gone. All Juan’s stuff was gone and so was Mr. Santos’ camera. Mr. Santos soon found out that Juan had left for good and stolen his camera; Juan had retreated to his previous ways.
The truth is Juan had gone back to drugs; he was back to living on the streets and feeding his severe depression and unhealthy lifestyle.
This is the first that anyone has heard about this story in the U.S., just like the previous entries. This truly is a sad story, it just shows the hardships that many Dominican’s have in the MLB. It is tough for someone of a different language and culture to have to adapt by themselves while performing in the best baseball league in the world.
If there is one lesson to this story, it is to be thankful for those around you. It’s not about money, its having family and those around you to fall back on you in hard times. As this story shows, many people don’t have that luxury. Don’t take advantage of this comfort, treat those around you as you would want to be treated.