“I still have a lot of love for baseball, so we’ll see what happens,” Jiménez said.
That future, though, might include using what he learned in college to start or run a business. He isn’t sure what type yet, but he said he wanted to take care of the hard-earned money from his playing days. “And who better than me since I know how hard it was to get?” he said.
One goal, he said, would be to serve as a good example of the value of an education to Dominican players, of whom only a small percentage will reach the major leagues. When he signed with the Rockies, Jiménez said, teams cared little about education. Now, according to M.L.B., all but one of its 30 clubs have high school diploma programs at their Dominican academies, and classes continued during the pandemic.
“In the Dominican, you live and breathe baseball,” Jiménez said. “But not everything is baseball. There’s a life before and after.”
Jiménez said that while parents ultimately bear the responsibility for educating their children, he understands that many baseball-playing children face the pressure of providing for their families. Which is why, he said, the Dominican government should put more emphasis on making sure baseball players finish their schooling, perhaps even before they leave the island.
O’Dowd, now an analyst for MLB Network, took that a step further, saying it should be a requirement that every international player signed by an M.L.B. team receive a G.E.D. before coming to the United States. Not only would it help them become better players but, if baseball didn’t work out, O’Dowd said, “It’d be incredibly incumbent upon us to be able to put players back into the individual areas that they come from, like in the D.R., at least with a high school education, hopefully more.”
Jiménez received his degree in the mail. From his home in Miami, he watched the virtual graduation ceremony. To celebrate, he posed for photos in his cap and gown and took part in a Champagne toast. When Jiménez’s older sister graduated from medical school, his mother took part in a toast for her, even though she doesn’t drink alcohol. She was so happy on Saturday that she again made an exception.