We were able to travel to Yasiel’s home town of Cienfuegos, Cuba. Yasiel shared the part of town, and they stopped at his original home where he grew up, where his father worked and the living conditions that were his normal during his time in Cuba.
But one of the most special things we were able to see were two of the ball diamonds that Yasiel played on growing up. We spent a little time at the neighborhood one. It was ironic that there was a tied up horse that happened to be quite wild, so we are all avoiding that wildhorse on a chain trying to hear from the other one about his childhood sports.
While we were there, it was fun that a couple old friends heard Yasiel was around and they started coming from different directions to see Yasiel and his father. Not only are most all Cubans proud and love Yasiel, these were his neighbors he had grown up with and were genuinely excited to see the family.
We also were able to travel to the ball diamond that Yasiel last played at while living in Cuba. These are times one has to step into his shoes, seeing where he has grown up, what he has grown up with, and that just a few short years ago, he was playing baseball here and thinking that was it for him. And then fast forward to now how different this young man’s life is!
I’m going to take a soapbox moment here...I understand Yasiel can have his challenges as a human and perhaps how he has handled things but if anyone stopped to walk in his shoes, and to see where he has come from, and perhaps understand what is unknown to a kid coming from a communist country, that does not speak our language one might give him a tad of slack. By our standards, living extremely impoverished and loving to play baseball, with balls made out of socks. To MLB, and all that is included now in a completely different country and surrounded by people not speaking your language.
Sometimes we expect things out of people that they simply don’t know, or have not been taught yet. So a frustration of someone that perhaps might not know any better is a fault on the one with the frustration. If someone has not been taught, or is not aware of expected standards they are going to be set up to fail.
As a 29 year old, multi millionaire living in a new country, has picked up English and doing his best to make his mark not only back home in Cuba to help his people, but In Los Angeles where he got his start by creating the Wildhorse Foundation. Then Puig trying to do his thing in Miami to help there where he can. Again, I don’t follow baseball so perhaps every player has created a Childrens home to feed the neighborhood children and help keep them in sports. And rallied to get PPE for hospitals in both Miami and Los Angeles during times of crisis. I spent time with him in a children’s hospital in Cuba so I witnessed his heart and his intent, and yes he has his flaws (what 29 year old man doesn’t no offense...) But at the end of the day, his heart and his energy are in the right place and he is a good man. Maybe just a lil rough around the edges. 😜
Many of you have learned I then chose to travel with Yasiel and his gang (which I LOVE them) to Japan shortly after this trip. So I’ll have more to share with that, but I have been able to see a lot of sides and time with Puig and for the most part, I adore him. Sure he has his 29 year old moments, but don’t we all?
Seeing where Yasiel has come from and to where he is now is pretty special and I feel blessed to have been able to see a part of his life, and be in his world now and have the opportunity to know him. As I said before, I’m not a big baseball fan, but I am most certainly a Puig fan.
**By this point in the trip, a few days in, I adapted to the name Topeka. Yasiel at first couldn’t understand Topeka, Kansas was not close to Kansas City where the Royals are. He does now 😜 and knows the capital of Kansas- Topeka! I think he gave up calling me Jenny and now is just “Topeka”.