Three years ago, Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Dayron Varona and his mother fled Cuba on a boat so that he could fulfill his dream of playing Major League Baseball.
Most people who defect Cuba don’t see their families for decades, but Varona is one of the lucky few who got to return early thanks to the Rays playing an exhibition game against the Cuban National Team in Havana in the Estadio Latinoamericano on Tuesday.
Varona isn’t even on the 40-man roster, but his teammates lobbied for him to make the trip so that he could be reunited with his family.
As the only Cuban player on the squad, it was an easy decision for manager Kevin Cash, particularly after several players, including star slugger Evan Longoria and young ace Chris Archer, campaigned for Varona’s inclusion.
“It will mean everything to him,” Archer said when asked about Varona’s opportunity to travel with the team to Cuba. “He hasn’t seen his family for three years. I hope he gets the opportunity to go running out to the outfield as a starter and have 40,000 or 50,000 fans screaming for him. It will be a surreal moment for him. He’s got a lot of guts if he manages to hold back the tears, because it will be a special moment.” (ESPN)
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) March 21, 2016
Baseball still is a great family sport.