When he was 13 years old, Aroldis Chapman began playing baseball as a first baseman. When he was 17 years old, Chapman switched from hitting to pitching and joined the Holguin Sabuesos, a Cuban National Series team. Chapman won silver in the 2007 Baseball World Cup and gold at the 2007 Pan American Games when he was 19 years old.
He, unfortunately, stayed at home with his parents and made only $150 per month. He yearned for improved life and wished to leave Cuba, just like so many other Cuban athletes before him. One of Chapman’s teammates came up with a scheme in March 2008 that would let him accomplish it.
He would meet his friend at a beachfront residence, where they would wait for a speedboat to carry them to a neighboring country. Once there, they would have access to freedom and the possibility to become baseball millionaires. At the appointed hour, Chapman arrived with his girlfriend but the friend of his never did.
Police showed up as Chapman and the potential smuggler waited for the ferry. Officers apprehended the smuggler and delivered the pitcher back to his parents’ house. Chapman was expelled from the 2008 Olympic team as his punishment, at least in public.
How Did Aroldis Chapman Defect From Cuba?
Chapman made his first attempt to defect from Cuba but was apprehended in his first attempt.
Several months after the first attempt failed, Chapman was riding his bike near the local police station when he was approached by two men. Alejandro Medina, who was close to Chapman, was a baseball enthusiast.
During their short conversation, Garcia questioned Chapman about his plans to amass a fortune in the United States. Medina became enraged at the mere mention since he knew it might land the three men in hot water. Minutes after their conversation ended and the two guys got into their car to leave, authorities pulled them over on suspicion that they were trying to smuggle Chapman.
The Chicago Tribune was able to confirm that Garcia was apprehended on July 30, 2008, through police documents. Chapman and his father gave sworn affidavits the next day, accusing Garcia and Medina of smuggling. In anticipation of their court dates, both guys sat in jail.
In January of 2009, Chapman gave his final testimony, stating that he had no plans to leave Cuba. Trying to smuggle out “one of Cuba’s best pitching skills,” the Cuban judicial panel convicted Garcia and Medina guilty.
Only the testimony of Chapman and his father led to his conviction. Garcia was given a 10-year sentence in prison. Medina got seven years’ imprisonment.
When Aroldis Chapman returned to play for Cuba in the World Baseball Classic just one month after his failed effort to flee, many were taken aback. Chapman had testified earlier that month that he had no intention of leaving Cuba.
It wasn’t without cause. Like other failed defectors before him, he may have been banned from playing by the Cuban government. Rather than prosecute him, the government decided to utilize him as an informant, a strategy they’ve employed before against other players like Yasiel Puig and Orlando Hernandez.
In July, Aroldis Chapman did nothing more than exit his room at the Domina Hotel in Rotterdam and walk downstairs to the lobby. The defection of the Cuban pitcher at a competition in the Netherlands lacked any dramatic tension that a screenwriter would want.
It was, he remembered, “quite simple.” I simply left the hotel, got in the car, and went away.
The 21-year-old left-hander with a fastball that can reach 100 mph set out for a career in the major leagues, apart from his parents, sisters, fiancée, and infant daughter whom he has never met.
He attracted attention when he pitched well against Australia and poorly against Japan during the March World Baseball Classic.
Before the World Port Tournament, which featured the national teams of Cuba, and the Netherlands, as well as Japanese and Taiwanese sides that combined minor leaguers and industrial players, he then got in touch with a buddy from Cuba.
He didn’t disclose his intention to defect to any of his family members, not even to his pregnant girlfriend Raidelmis Mendosa Santiestelas, out of fear of leaks.
“I simply gave my decision-making at the motel an hour. I made the choice, left the hotel, and climbed into the car “said he. “From a few months before the event, everything was arranged.
I decided to do it after talking with a friend about the notion; I never considered doing it during the Classic. Prior to the Classic, I had been looking for it, but I didn’t want to do it there.”