Stealing Lives

Stealing Lives

The Globalization of Baseball and the Tragic Story of Alexis Quiroz
Arturo J. Marcano Guevara and David P. Fidler
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 12/09/2002
ISBN: 978-0-253-10956-9
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One of the Best Baseball Books (2003) Elysian Fields Quarterly

While some Latin American superstars have overcome discrimination to strike gold in baseball's big leagues, thousands more Latin American players never make it to "The Show." Stealing Lives focuses on the plight of one Venezuelan teenager and documents abuses that take place against Latin children and young men as baseball becomes a global business. The authors reveal that in their efforts to secure cheap labor, Major League teams often violate the basic human rights of children.

As a young boy growing up in Venezuela, Alexis Quiroz dreamed of playing in the Major Leagues. Alexis's dreams were like those of thousands of other boys in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, and Major League teams encouraged such dreams by recruiting Latin children as young as 10 and 11 years old. Determined to become a big league player, Alexis finished high school early and dedicated himself to landing a contract with a Major League team. Alexis signed with the Chicago Cubs in 1995 at age 17 and then began a harrowing ordeal of exploitation, mistreatment, and disrespect at the hands of the Chicago Cubs, including playing for the Cubs' Dominican Summer League team in appalling living conditions. Alexis's baseball career came to an abrupt end by an injury for which the Cubs provided no adequate medical treatment. The story continues, however, with Alexis's pursuit of justice in the United States to ensure that other Venezuelan and Dominican boys do not encounter similar experiences.

What happened to Alexis is not an isolated case-Major League teams routinely deny Latin children and young men the basic protections that their U.S. counterparts take for granted. This exploitation violates international legal standards on labor standards and the human rights of children. Stealing Lives concludes by analyzing various reforms to redress the inequities big league baseball creates in its globalization.

Author Bio

Arturo J. Marcano Guevara, a Venezuelan lawyer and the International Legal Advisor to the Venezuelan Baseball Players Association, frequently appears in the Latin American media in connection with baseball issues.

David P. Fidler, Professor of Law at Indiana University, is an international lawyer who has served as a consultant on matters of law and public policy to numerous governmental agencies and international organizations.


“"Stealing Lives addresses squarely this fundamental unfairness in the system. It is a book that anyone concerned about the future of baseball, the challenges of economic globalization and basic human rights should read." —St. Petersburg Times “Stealing Lives is the flip side of the Latin American Dream, a disturbing and eye-opening account of how major-league baseball exploits and degrades young players in other lands who are trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. For every Sammy Sosa, there are thousands of Alexis Quirozes. By giving voice to one of them, Arturo J. Marcano Guevara and David P. Fidler may help many others.” —Ron Rapoport, Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist and sports commentator for National Public Radio’s “Weekend Edition.” “In these days of unseemly collective bargaining squabbles between millionaires players and billionaire owners, it is hard to imagine that there is yet another underside to Major League Baseball. Stealing Lives makes it clear that there is. Marcano and Fidler have provided an engaging and probing look into baseball’s exploitative system of player recruitment in the Caribbean. All concerned with the future of our national pastime should read this book.” —Andrew Zimbalist, Robert A. Woods professor of economics, Smith College, and author of Baseball and Billions: A Probing Look Inside the Big Business of Our National Pastime “The authors drag Major League Baseball before the court of public opinion and establish how it violates international laws covering the exploitation of children, not to mention the most ordinary laws and customs of the United States. . . . [P]ersuasively argued.” —Roberto González Echevarría, Professor of Comparative Literature at Yale University and author of The Pride of Havana: A History of Cuban Baseball “[A]s the Latin impact on the major leagues and the mainstream culture continue to grow, this book can serve as an important guide and beacon of reform for baseball operations in Latin America.” —Samuel Regalado, Professor of History, California State University, Stanislaus, and author of Viva Baseball!: Latin Major Leaguers and Their Special Hunger Stealing Lives takes a long, hard look at the exploitation and abuse of boys and young men by Major League Baseball teams searching Latin America for cheap baseball talent—placing that hunt in the context of the globalization of baseball. In telling the tragic story of young Alexis Quiróz, a Venezuelan teenager who dreamed of playing for the Chicago Cubs, the authors also reveal Major League Baseball's pattern of violation of human rights and labor standards in its practices in Latin America.”

“[Stealing Lives] is a book that anyone concerned about the future of baseball, the challenges of economic globalization and basic human rights should read. Baseball fans might not look at the Fernandez or the Hernandez or the Ramirez on the roster of their favorite major league teams in quite the same way.”
 — St. Petersburg Times

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Table of Contents

Preliminary Table of Contents:

Part I—Building the Global Ballpark
Chapter 1: The "Golden Age" of Latin American Baseball Talent in Major League Baseball
Chapter 2: The Globalization of Baseball
Chapter 3: The Structure and Dynamics of MLB Recruitment
of Foreign Baseball Talent

Part II—Exploitation and Mistreatment in the Global Ballpark: The Tragic Baseball Story of Alexis Quiroz
Chapter 4: "Papá, I Want to Play Baseball!"
Chapter 5: Going to Vietnam
Chapter 6: In Baseball Purgatory
Chapter 7: The Mesa Miracle
Chapter 8: The Dominican Disaster
Chapter 9: "That's Just Your Story"
Chapter 10: The Pursuit of Justice Goes Terribly Wrong
Chapter 11: 7th Inning Stretch: Chicago, New York, Maracay
Chapter 12: The Final Inning

Part III—Repairing the Global Ballpark
Chapter 13: Human Rights, Labor Standards, and MLB Exploitation of Children in Latin America
Chapter 14: Global Ballpark Repair Strategies