Yunel Escobar passed the naturalization test, On his way to become an American Citizen

Updated: March 1, 2017

Update: Escobar posted on Instagram that he passed the naturalization test.

Alex Alarcon | Halo Headquarters


Third baseman Yunel Escobar is currently in the process to try to become a U.S. citizen. Escobar has temporarily left Spring Training in order to take a citizenship exam tomorrow in Miami.

Jeff Fletcher of The Orange County Register got in touch with Manager Mike Scioscia on the matter and Scioscia shared his opinion on the news at hand.

“‘Especially with his background of how he got to this country, he feels connected with it and wants to become a U.S. citizen,’” Scioscia said.

Escobar does not generally shed a whole lot of light on the subject, but he actually did so a little while back. James Wagner of The Washington Post at one point compiled a story on Escobar’s convoluted journey to the majors.

Escobar loved to tune into broadcasts as a youngster, but this was technically forbidden in his native land of Cuba. However, stealthily watching the games started to make him interested in the sport. He knew he wanted to devote his life to the game.

Eventually, in 2004, Yunel started playing professionally in Havana but it was not cutting it. Factors such as veteran players and meager pay thereby held him back and his family as well. It was then that Escobar realized he needed to leave the country for something greater.

“’I need to get out of here,’ he said. ‘I can’t be in Cuba any longer. I don’t know anything but playing baseball.’”

He one day met a young lady who would prove to be his hero in sense. She happened to visiting Cuba in 2004 from the U.S. and the pair started dating. Yunel came to trust the gal and told her of his desire to seek a new life. She promised she would do all she could to help out. Thus, she soon started getting in touch with smugglers to grant the third baseman’s ambition.

There came a stage when the smugglers were finally ready to get the process initiated. Escobar and those closest to him looked forward to what would hopefully be a smooth, painless transition to the U.S. It was anything but that, however.

Even when the group eventually got to the boat that would bring them to American territory, it was no picnic thereafter. Everyone got severely sunburned on the excursion, the provisions were minimal, and sharks swam around them from time to time. And that just scratches the surface, alas. After reaching Florida after a several day trip on nothing but sea, the tribulations continued according to what Wagner’s piece discusses.

“For eight months, Escobar and company lived with the smugglers. The original plan was to take the players to another country, such as the Dominican Republic, with fake passports where they could train, establish residency and perhaps command higher signing bonuses…”

Suffice to say, Escobar and the others for that matter just wanted to get out of the smugglers’ house and move on with their lives more or less. In Yunel’s case, he eagerly, desperately craved an opportunity to one day be a MLB talent. That dream from his younger days sneakily taking in action never faded. Not one bit.

The smugglers tried various methods like auctioning off the few players amidst the group to get them work, but to no avail. They had to then discard them into the 2005 draft. It was the only way to make things hopefully work out for both parties.

The Angels’ infielder was not an established name at all when he arrived. This only added to the ridiculous stress that was tattooed upon him. However, the tides would change when he met a kind scout named Rolando Casanova. He trained Escobar to some degree, and was instrumental in getting Yunel to where he currently is status wise.

Escobar did end up getting drafted in the second round by the Atlanta Braves at a $475,000 clip. This far exceeded any amount he ever got back home for his services. He used some of his original wages to cover the smugglers’ tax, and as he progressed in the majors, to bring some family members over from Cuba. He has never reached his old girlfriend again, but, in spite of that, remains remarkably appreciative for what she did. His life would feasibly be quite different if not for the assistance she provided.

“‘I’ll always be grateful to her,’ Escobar said. ‘When I signed, I asked if she needed anything, but she did it for love.’”

Nowadays, the ball player is living a much different lifestyle. One could say he is living the life as the saying is fabricated. Nonetheless, whenever he steps onto the diamond, he is reminded of how incredibly difficult it was to get to where he is today.

“‘I always stop to think about everything, ‘Look at what I’ve got, look at what baseball has gotten me and my family and look at what I’ve accomplished,’ he said. ‘When I enter that stadium to play baseball, I think about my family.’”

With all of that out there, here is to hoping that Yunel will get another wish bestowed upon him in the near future, just as he did back in 2005 when he finally got his big break.

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