Column: Kevin de León is on an apology tour. When will he realize it’s a farewell tour?
In 2006, Kevin de León was the winningest pitcher in the history of baseball. He was the first player from the Dominican Republic to earn MVP honors since the Dominican Republic was admitted to the World Baseball Classic in 1995. He was named Baseball’s Top Prospect of the Year, the MVP of the All-Star game, and the National League Rookie of the Year. He was the first Dominican-born player to win the Hank Aaron Award, given to the best player in both MLB and the American League. He also became the first Venezuelan to pitch in the All-Star game.
Yet in 2010, he walked away from the game he loved and did not seek a new position in baseball. He was 36 years old, and his wife of 13 years was in a coma for more than a month. The couple went so far as to cancel their honeymoon, to ensure that there was no chance their young daughter would live through the heartbreak of losing her father.
And Kevin did not become an international superstar. He retired without winning a Gold Glove, losing 20 or more games in a season, or even winning one game on the field. He had been a finalist five times for the Cy Young Award, twice for the Cy Young and twice for the Award as a pitcher. He had been an All-Star for 14 seasons, and had been chosen to the All-Star team 13 times.
The last time he pitched a perfect game was on July 28, 2006. He pitched a perfect game back in the Dominican League in 2004, as well, his last one. He threw a perfect game at only 22 years of age. He became a certified public accountant. He received the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Association’s World Series of Baseball Outstanding Service Award and was inducted into the Dominican Academy of Sports and Tourism Hall of Fame. He was named as a finalist for the Baseball Hall of Fame’s “Class of 2015.”
But on March 25, a report by ESPN’s Buster Olney revealed that the Dodgers had traded away the rights to Kevin’s rights. So, as of now, he’s out of baseball. But