Ethan Chapman is hardly the first North American to spend a season playing pro baseball in Mexico. However, he may be the first to write a weekly diary about his experience for a national sports magazine.
An outfielder for the Union Laguna Vaqueros, the outfielder has certainly had a front-row seat to some interesting times in Torreon. Even before the season starter, owners Juan Jose and Erick Arellano (who also co-own the Yucatan leones) had their assets frozen as part of a government investigation into possible money-laundering involving two Mazatlan-born brothers.
Then, the Vaqueros were battling for third place in the Mexican League’s North Division when All-Star first baseman Ricky Alvarez, who was the LMB leader in RBIs and a potential MVP candidate, was sent to Yucatan in a one-sided trade clearly swung to benefit the LMB South-leading Leones. The resulting fallout among fans has resulted in a drop in attendance at Vaqueros home games at Estadio Revolucion (which turns 85 in September).
The Cal State-San Bernardino product, who was drafted by Kansas City in 2012 and spent four years in the Royals and Phillies systems. Chapman spent last summer with Sioux Falls of the American Association before signing with the Vaqueros last November. Thus far in 2017, he’s batting .281 (with a .342 on-base percentage), has five homers and 42 runs scored in 87 games for Laguna. His 18 steals leads Union Laguna, one more than fellow outfielder Welington Dotel.
The 27-year-old Californian has taken the high road while writing weekly dispatches for Sports Spectrum, a Christian sports magazine and website founded in 1985 which also features a website and podcasts. Instead, Chapman’s contributions concentrate more on how his faith has been a factor during his first Mexican League campaign, which he hopes will lead him back to an MLB organization. The following is his twelfth diary submission to Sports Spectrum this year, posted on July 26: This week we played a three game series in Cancun. I thought it would be a good idea to have some family come out to enjoy the beach and watch some baseball. My wife, dad, sister, mother in-law and friends all took time off from work and paid for flights and hotel rooms. We were all set to go and excited to have them here, until we found out that the team schedule was wrong and we would be playing Cancun three days earlier than expected!!
Apparently, this was something that the entire team wasn’t even aware of. We were all thrown off by the wrong schedule so we had to cancel our original flights. Instead we had to drive 5 hours from Torreon to Monterrey, then fly from Monterrey to Mexico City and then another flight from Mexico City to Cancun.
This wasn’t what I had in mind when I invited my family to come out to watch me play. Instead of them watching 3 games and spending all day with me by the beach. They had to rush to the field to catch our last game in Cancun and we were only able to get dinner with them afterward before we took off for the next city.
Sometimes our plans and what actually happens don’t align.
My plan as a kid and still currently is to play in the Big Leagues. I never would have imagined the route that I would take to get me where I am today.
But I know I am right where I am supposed to be right now.
Being drafted, released twice, playing independent baseball, barely making any money, long terrible bus rides, early flights, away from my family and friends, good seasons, bad seasons, renting out my house, my wife quitting her job to join me in Mexico, all of it is part of His perfect plan.
The sacrifices that so many people especially my wife have made so that I can play baseball professionally have been amazing. Every success would be so much less if it wasn’t for all the roadblocks.
I don’t know when my career is going to end but the people I’ve met and the relationships I’ve built through this great game will never be replaced.