Three years ago, Dalier Hinojosa was making the equivalent of $5 to $20 per month playing baseball in the state-run Cuban league. Having now defected from the country, escaping first to Haiti and now to America, Hinojosa will make $514,000 this season, playing for the Phillies.
In a profile at Philly.com, we learn more about the trials of his journey, which involved a high-risk, 12-hour escape at sea, joined by his wife and a smuggler in a small motorboat:
You never think about how you’re going to escape, [Hinojosa] said through an interpreter. You think about when. You cannot think about the risk of imprisonment or, worse, death. You think about the desperation that you never want to feel again.
The transition from communism to capitalism has already made Hinojosa rich, indeed. He originally signed with the Boston Red Sox for a $4 million bonus.
Yet for Hinojosa, it was never about the money:
“I’m a professional baseball player, and I get my check without having to ask for it,” Hinojosa said. “I get money because I earn it. I’m able to go to a supermarket and buy whatever I want. That is very satisfying, to know I can do it on my own. That is one of the happiest things. You don’t depend on the government. You depend on your own work.”
… His money, Hinojosa said, has gone to family. Some of it went to his handlers and his agents. He has supported friends back in Cuba and his church.
“The ability to help others is one of the most beautiful things that has ever happened to me,” Hinojosa said. “The chances that this country has given me has allowed me to do things like that. That’s why I feel blessed. It makes me feel human when I am able to help others based on my work. I’m making enough money to help other people.”
Hinojosa escaped Cuba to play baseball. But more fundamentally, it has transformed his ability to work and serve and contribute more freely and openly. It has opened his life to liberty and the generosity it inspires and empowers.
For those of us who have been granted such liberty with little to no risk-taking or sacrifice, Hinojosa offers a reminder of the tremendous value of such a gift, even, or especially, in an age of plenty. Oh, that we would respond with similar gratitude, enterprise, and generosity.