Jose Abreu Recounts His Risky Escape From Cuba


The Cuban José Abreu narrates about the terrible ordeal that happened during his voyage from Cuba in 2013. The baseball player traveled aboard a boat which departed at night from the Cuban coast accompanied by six members of his family.  The boat was so small that every time the waves came crashing it was something awful, he feared for his life.

“I tell you, the waves were of 15 feet in height, which looked like a tsunami.” I said it many times, if it is about the life of my loved ones or mine, I will make anything possible to save the life of my parents and my sister rather than mine”, said Abreu.

The truth is that it was a journey in search of freedom and a better life for him and his family, an exodus that lasted 12 hours in the Atlantic. It was a stressful experience especially when the waves hit that fragile and small craft. They gathered to pray and to make prayers during that daring and risky trip, a terrible ordeal as it was a film of horror and suspense. Fortunately, everyone was able to reach safely to Haiti, where they had their first stop. Sure, it was not pleasant, but the important thing was that everyone made it alive to mainland.

Once in Haiti, Abreu moved to the neighboring Dominican Republic searching for the opportunity that would give way to achieve his dream, not only the freedom, but to play the best baseball in the world. Once he felt safe, he began contacting Major League teams to show his potential until he caught the eye the Executive Vice President of the White Sox, Kenny Williams, who observed him personally. On that occasion, Williams said that the Cuban had the dough to play in MLB: “I think that he has the tools to play in the big leagues, but I think he should spend a few months in the minors,” said Williams.

Finally, the Chicago White Sox extended him a juicy contract of $ 68 million for five years, thus ensuring its future and that of their families.

During spring training the White Sox were impressed with the work of Abreu and he made the team. At the start of the season and once they saw his accomplishments the White Sox assured that the investment had been successful. As a matter of fact, Abreus audacity had its reward, at the end of the season, Abreu won the award of Rookie of the Year of the American League unanimously, finishing a triumphal campaign of 36 home runs, 107 RBIs, a batting average of. 317, and lead the young circuit in slugging percentage with. 581.

Despite all his credentials, many thought that perhaps his bulky body of 260 pounds was not going give the production that he had in Cuba, where in recent years averaged 32 home runs per season. As it was he had a very successful career in Cuba: 10 years, 184-HR, 593-RBI, and average of. 342.

The Cuban player was most valuable player in the second week of April, and even better, the MVP of the month from April to July in the American League. Furthermore, for the middle of the season he was leading Major League with 26 home runs and 67 RBI.  Impressive numbers for a rookie who never played in the minors, who came from Cuba to play in the Majors. This outstanding performance earned him the honor of being selected to go to the All Star game representing the American League.

These numbers were impressive that even the same Williams said: “I would be lying to you if I say that at the end of the season I was hoping for a successful performance as Abreu has had”.

Abreu’s life story is one of the many successful stories of Cuban players who anxiously had to flee Cuba in a boat in search of freedom. We have had many cases, such as Tony Oliva, the brothers Hernández Livan and El Duque, José Ariel Contreras, Leonys Martín, Yasiel Puig, Yoenis Céspedes and many more that have achieved their dream of reaching safely to dry land and then play in the Major Leagues and succeed. All sacrifice has its compensation. All for freedom!