(Photo courtesy of the Boston Red Sox)

People may be surprised to hear me say this, but I like to tell people that being sent down to Triple-A in 2014 was one of the best things that ever happened to me. It made me hungrier to eventually play in the big leagues again, but it also allowed me to play with an old teammate in Jhonatan Solano.

 

And because of him, I got to marry my best friend.

 

I actually met my wife back in 2007, when Jhonatan and I were just starting our minor league careers with the Nationals organization. The only thing was, I didn't know she would be my wife at the time. Getting sent down to the minors in 2014 changed that for me.

 

Jhonatan's girlfriend had a sister that I met all those years before, and we had been friends since that time, but it was only in 2014 that I became really close with her. We would go to dinner, talk all the time, and text each other. I could also relate to her, because she was also making the transition from South America. I was from Venezuela trying to make it as a baseball player, while she was from Columbia trying to make it as a soccer player.

 
 

(Photo courtesy of the Boston Red Sox)

But just as my career was beginning, hers was about to end. Soccer wasn't working out the way she had hoped, and in August of 2014 she told me she had to go back to Columbia. I was sad to see her go, but I knew she was going back to a supportive environment. Both of her parents are pastors in their local church, and she even played music during the church services.

 

I saw her in Venezuela after the baseball season ended, but that would be the last time I would see her for over a year. We continued to text back and forth, but during the 2015 season I didn't get to see her at all.

 

The Nationals traded me to the Red Sox that year, and although I got to play on the big league roster for five months, I didn't have a girlfriend to share that experience with. I was eventually sent down to the minors later that season, and at one point, we stopped talking for two months.

 

That December, everything began to change.

 

We began talking again, and texting soon turned into calling. By January of 2016, after a few weeks of rekindling our friendship, I knew what I had to do.

 

I had to go to Columbia.

 

That February I made the trip to talk with her parents. I wanted a real relationship, something serious. I was so happy that she wanted the same thing.

 

So I asked her to marry me, and she said yes. We were engaged for exactly three days before we had the wedding ceremony. I don't know how, I don't know why, but I showed up in Columbia without a girlfriend and came back with a wife.

 

From that point on, I learned that sometimes the bold decisions can turn out to be the best ones.

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Thomas Hager