From an early age, many Dominican children are taught that baseball is the springboard to success, fame and money, but out of the thousands who practice the sport, only 2 to 3% of those who sign with a team reach the Major Leagues.
Fewer than 900 Dominicans have been in the Major Leagues in all of history and five have been inducted into the Cooperstown Hall of Fame.
Dropping out of school, frustration, traveling illegally are wrong decisions made by many frustrated prospects, while others focus on education and business.
Robinson Medina and Radhamés Valerio were removed from the field of play due to health problems, but they reinvented themselves and “threw her out for the 411” with education, as a doctor, engineer and entrepreneurs. The second was already signed with the Colorado Rockies.
As common elements they have that they felt that “the world collapsed”, but family support, faith and education pushed them to move forward.
To this young man, raised in a neighborhood of Villa Duarte, with his mother, maternal grandmother, and little brother, 6 feet 1 inch tall, left, high-achieving, at age 16, being evaluated for a possible signature, the doctor informed him of a heart condition that prevented him from continuing to play.
“I was in the La Jabilla baseball league, since I was eight years old. I was studying at the Pilar Constanzo Polytechnic Institute (a Catholic institution), already in my third year of high school I had to lower my exercises a bit. My blood pressure shot up, I was already looking for the signature and the doctor and my mom told me that I couldn’t play. He was about 15 to 16 years old, ”explains Robinson, not from a consulting room as a doctor graduated from the UASD, but from a small printing press that he installed with his brother, a marketing graduate, on San Martín Avenue, in the Capital. .
The medical verdict shattered his entire dream, especially that of buying his mother a house, which is still a pending goal. “I played from a very young age and what they instill in you is that they are going to sign you. One never thinks that it is not going to arrive, much less that a health problem is that it is going to prevent it. My world collapsed, because at that age you don’t think about studying or anything, what you think about is playing ball”.
His emotions were affected for a while and with the support of his family and his (Catholic) church, he began to reconsider and feel the need to help others and decided to become a doctor.
Economic precariousness has been the main limitation, “my mom always supported me. From the beginning, despite the fact that at that time I did not understand the cost of studying medicine. She told me if that is what you want, to study, we are going to move forward”, was the response of a single agricultural engineer with a salary that did not reach RD$15,000 per month.
Robinson graduated as a doctor, did an internship in a Primary Care Unit, where he offered a service that allowed him to help patients in the early detection of some diseases.
He was also in the Darío Contreras hospital, but he was unable to be appointed and the economic shortages awakened the artistic vein of a publicist, where he proudly earns the support of his wife and daughter, apart from helping his mother.
He put aside the dream of being a cardiologist and is preparing for a master’s degree in hospital administration and a postgraduate degree in physical therapy. He is fluent in the English language and takes time out of his church and youth groups.
Also coming from a low-income family, Radhamés had a push in the sport that Robinson did not reach, but life surprised him with strong blows and despite this, he is one year away from graduating as an engineer at Intec.
Radhamés is left-handed, although his physical build was not the best, he threw many strikes, they trained him physically and at 17 he was signed by the Colorado Rockies, with a $100,000 bonus.
“I entered the professional part, I fulfilled that part of the dream, but pitching in a game I slipped and the bone in my elbow fractured. I spent a year in rehab. Then I went back to pitching, it was better for me, but having a paused year I no longer had the same attraction”, so the team dropped him.
He spent a year looking for another contract, even with the Japanese, and he did not succeed. Upon returning to the country, his mother, who was very ill, died of a heart attack, then lost her two grandparents, all in less than two years.
“The process was strong, I will not deny it, I entered a small depression. I knew I was depressed, because I ate and didn’t take advantage of it, I was still thin, but after I learned to live with it and overcame it, I knew it was depression, at no time did I stay stagnant. I attribute that to my family, who have come from very, very low down”.
This versatile young man has obtained four scholarships from Major League Baseball (MLB), with which he has specialized as an English teacher, graduated in aeronautical administration and is now studying industrial engineering at Intec.
Although he was no longer with the Colorado Rockies, according to Valerio, the team recommended him for his “profile, discipline and work ethic” to be favored with a scholarship program that the MLB had.
In each of the programs he had a high index, such as in aeronautical administration, a career that lasted two years and he was the honor student who gave the main speech.
This young man with his story only wants others not to see that failure is forever, but that they should take advantage of every opportunity with its vicissitudes.
For its merits.
The evidence of his academic performance made the MLB pay for his engineering studies at Intec, allowing him to work as an English teacher.
“The MLB has never objected to me for working and studying on a scholarship. I try to give my best at all times. If I have to spend a day without sleeping trying to accomplish everything, I do it, because I have to thank God for everything he has allowed me” says the young vice president of the industrial engineering career committee.
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They were thrown out of baseball but they became professionals