After I graduated from law school in the early 1980s, I played in a softball league and I got introduced to some lawyers who were interested in representing professional athletes. I took a job at their firm for a few years, but decided to strike out on my own.
Cuba was the number one supplier of baseball talent until 1961 when the US imposed sanctions on the country. No other players have to jump through the hoops that Cuban nationals do to play baseball here. They have to defect. If they establish residency in the US, they don’t get fair compensation because of rules about how players are compensated.
So, my strategy with Cuban clients is to establish their residency in a third country – often the Dominican Republic – petition the US government to authorise them to work here, and the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball to let them become a free agent. You have to put up a lot of your own money to represent a Cuban. I provide for their living expenses, coaching and paperwork to get them residency and authorisation to work in the US. They don’t speak a word of English. You have to teach them what a credit card is and how to set up a bank account. I am a social worker, psychologist, lawyer and, sometimes, a second father to these guys.
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