In order to get in front of Major League scouts, ballplayers living in Cuba must enter a dark underworld that often takes advantage of them.
As part of their reporting, correspondent T.J. Quinn and producer Pia Malbran walked across the border from Haiti into the Dominican Republic following the path the underworld currently uses to smuggle Cuban players into the Domican Republic, where all 30 Major League Baseball teams have academies and scouts recruiting Latin American talent.
“When I crossed the border, I thought, ‘Wait, was that it?’ It didn’t seem possible that we could just stroll through like that,” Quinn said. “On the other hand, the Dominican guards didn’t seem too concerned unless someone appeared to be Haitian, which is consistent with the country’s immigration priorities.”
Quinn and Malbran, along with ESPN The Magazine reporter, Scott Eden, first began investigating the plight of Cuban baseball players last January. Together, they traveled to the Dominican Republic, Haiti and South Florida to report and conduct interviews. Eden’s story was published in June.
“We always felt like it was important that people know there is an underbelly to the story of Cuban players,” Quinn said. “Baseball fans hear about the successful ones, but they haven’t heard about the many players who are lured out of a country with lavish promises, then abandoned with nowhere to go.”