Like many Cuban baseball stars, outfielder Adelmo Sarduy dreamed of leaving the communist island for the bright lights and big money of Major League Baseball.
In this film, Sarduy accomplishes his goal when he signs with the fictitious San Antonio Lobos, but not before a harrowing ordeal in which he is held for ransom in Mexico while his family members were kept under surveillance in South Florida.
When the film begins, Sarduy is a rising star in Cuba, traveling to baseball tournaments around the globe with the national team. After a tournament in Japan, he decides to leave for the U.S.
Once in the U.S., Sarduy makes contact with a man who offers his family a trip from Cuba on a yacht to Cancun, Mexico. From there, they could eventually cross by land into the U.S. But instead of journeying directly north, they were taken to a house lined inside with mattresses and watched by two armed men, one of them is Eliezer Cugat.
“You are worth a lot,” Cugat tells Sarduy, and, “I am not going to let you go.”
Eventually, Sarduy and other Cuban players are taken to a compound called “The Ranch” near Monterrey, Mexico, where they were supposed to train. Sarduy’s family and friends were taken across the U.S. border at Laredo, Texas, and put on a bus to Miami where they would live for five months in a townhouse owned by Cugat.
In Mexico, there is a nearby baseball field where the players train and play games before U.S. scouts, and Sarduy is introduced to another man he was told would be his agent. He is also told he had to sign a contract with an entity linked to Cugat called Representación de Béisbol (Baseball Representation) in which he promised to pay 30 percent of any future salary or bonuses — well above the 5 percent players typically pay.
Sarduy must give the performance of his life if he wants to see his family again.
Also, Sarduy has no choice but to sign it (as did the other players with him) considering that they are all being held hostage.
Eventually Sarduy does eventually pay Representación de Béisbol $1.35 million. He escapes the ordeal and reunites with his family.
STORY BACKGROUND INFORMATION
While Representación de Béisbol describes itself as “a baseball academy that cultivates and trains amateur baseball players who desire to play professional baseball in the United States.” In reality, the company is a front for human smuggling and trafficking.
Many Cubans have defected over the years to play baseball in the U.S., including such current stars as Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig and Oakland Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. The Cuban government for decades has had a policy that its athletes are not allowed to sign contracts to compete in foreign leagues.
Compared to the vast majority of immigrants, Cubans get unique treatment by the U.S. government under the “wet foot, dry foot” policy that came about during the Cold War. Cubans who reach U.S. soil are generally allowed to stay in this country, while those intercepted outside the U.S. are sent back home.
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