During a pre-game ceremony at Comerica Park, twenty five people including two Detroit Tigers took their oath of citizenship.
Leonys Martin Tapanes, a 30 year old Center Fielder, played on the 2009 Cuban National team before defecting while paying in Taiwan. Martin then signed with Texas Rangers in 2011 and later played for the Seattle Mariners and Chicago Cubs. This is the first year that Martin is playing for the Detroit Tigers.
After the ceremony, Martin mused:
"I will never forget about my country but it's amazing to be part of the United States. Being able to do this here at the ballpark, in front of fans, that was really emotional."
Jose Antonio Inglesias Aleman is a 28 year old shortstop, who was in the Cuban National Series in 2008 but defected when the Cuban National team visited Canada in 2009. He came to America with a pair of shorts, a tee shirt and a dream. Iglesias played for the Boston Red Sox before being traded to the Detroit Tigers in 2013.
Iglesias admitted that adjusting to America has been daunting as he observed:
"It's hard man, you came. You face a new culture, face a new language, facing new food, new everything. Still learning. I've been here ten years and I'm still learning."
One thing Iglesias learned well was to not alienate fans. He was happy to be a newly naturalized citizen and be able to vote, but he deflected from questions about commenting on President Trump's immigration policies.
Now that they are naturalized citizens, Martin and Iglesias will be able to join the rest of the Tigers on a road trip to Toronto for a series with the Blue Jays.
It is inspiring to see two immigrants who sought freedom to live their dreams in America who worked within the system and and embrace their new country rather than treat it like a meal ticket.