He got into the famous baseball team as one of the few Europeans. How? First, Vavruša took part in a talent camp in Italy. It didn’t work out in 2010, no agent from the American professional league MLB noticed him. The next year, however, it came out!
“My plan was not to sign a contract and fly back to the USA for university. I arranged everything, arranged the visa, and suddenly a scout from the Yankees came to me to offer a contract and left immediately. In for a few days, I decided to try it,” said Dan Vavruša, who left the New York Yankees this year due to injury.
Daniel Vavrušaborn: July 9, 1991
clubs: Kotlarka Prague
position: C, 3B
US Teams: New York Yankees, Pusch Ridge Christian Academy.
Best achievements: Champion of Extraliga 2015, Champion of Europe under 12 years. A US high school degree.
What does signing a contract with a famous club mean to you?
I had to do whatever they told me. To go where they tell me and be there until ten months of the year. They also gave me money, around 100 thousand crowns. Some teammates received more, for example one of them $3.5 million. However, it is a great talent.
How hard is it when you have to make your way against millions of opponents?
Well, you have to surprise. It shouldn’t happen that you get hurt. And this unfortunately happened to me.
What really happened to you?
I tore my shoulder, spent a year recovering from it, and the next I could barely play. By the time you’re twenty-three, it’s almost too late. That was enough for me in those days. They told me that for my age, I should be four leagues higher.”
Wait, I understand that you didn’t make it to the MLB right away and you went to the farm first. But how many minor leagues are there in the US?
There are eight farm leagues below the major MLB. I just got to the second division.
And how did you get on?
When I signed the contract, they sent me to the Dominican Republic. There we landed in the semi-finals of the playoffs. In the second year, our entire team was sent to Tampa, a higher league. And that is the highest. Then I got injured and then it was over.
When you signed with a professional MLB club, how did you end up in the Dominican Republic?
It’s simple: baseball is one of the most played sports ever, worldwide. However, there are two best leagues – in the USA and in Japan. The pressure is incredible. All of America and Latin America play baseball, many players are recruited from those countries. That’s why I was first tested in the Dominican Republic. Everywhere I felt like the only European. It was only in 2014 that the New York Yankees signed Pole.
And what happened in Tampa, Florida?
Great, especially civilized. After a year in the Dominican Republic, I was able to be with people I could talk to about normal things. That level is better, especially the life level.
What do you mean?
In the Dominican Republic, we lived a lot on the playground itself, eight to sixteen of us in rooms with bunk beds and lockers, which was important. There is a lot of looting between players.
How is this possible?
It’s a poor country, everyone there is trying to earn money for the family. The best players have millions of contracts, they all dream of making money from baseball, they fight for themselves. It was significantly better in Tampa.
Are you surprised at how difficult it is in the field baseball leagues?
I don’t think there are that many players in the lower leagues. The Yankees have 250 to 300 players in the minor leagues. They hire dozens of players a year.
Is it rougher than NHL hockey?
I think yes. There are eight leagues in baseball, almost no salary, only for six months for the player to live there. It’s very rough.
And why did the New York Yankees pick you?
Within the academies in Italy from 2010 and 2011, I had the most differences in skills. They said I have made a lot of progress. So what are they looking for?
But this year you ended the contract with the New York Yankees. Why?
I got hurt in my third season with the Yankees. My shoulder hurt and after a few matches I couldn’t lift it. For a two nights they kept investigating me, what it was. They thought I had inflammation, but they found out I had a hole in the cartilage and a torn tendon. I had to go into surgery, and they sent me to New York to see the doctor who operated on Alex Rodriguez, the biggest star in baseball. They took care of me for two months after that operation. Then we agreed that they would send me to Prague, where I would go to the Movement Medicine Center in Chodov. I go there regularly. When I recovered, I thought they would send me back to the US to Florida, where I ended up. In the end, they wanted to send me back to the Dominican Republic, which was a big shock.
And you don’t agree with that…
Yes. They know that I can officially return to the Dominican Republic, but they also know that I don’t belong there and I don’t want to be there. In the end I went there, the injury didn’t improve, so in April of this year they told me they didn’t want me anymore.
So you haven’t looked inside the New York Yankees team?
I’ve been there several times, but they didn’t take us to the stadium. If we were players for 3.5 million crowns, it would be different, maybe. It will be fixed. Unfortunately, we are not attractive to them. But I heard about luxury. The entire facility at the New York Yankees is incredibly luxurious, big, spacious, rich…
Why do you think Europeans hardly apply to the US?
I think one of the things is that in Europe they are used to being the best from a young age. But then they went to the US and they were gone. And they can’t accept that. They hardly accept such harsh conditions, drill. In addition, you can join farm teams from the age of 16.
And how do you see this continuing in your career?
I currently play for Kotlářka Praha and I want to stay there. In addition, this year, after 20 years of leadership of Brno teams, we lead the domestic extra league. I like it in Prague, my view is that I will not rush into anything. If something comes up, I will consider it. I don’t want to complete the farm league in the Dominican Republic, I’m going there on vacation.
I heard the New York Yankees pay for your school…
Yes, that’s what we entered in my father’s contract. I study at a private university in Prague and everything is paid for by the baseball club. That’s a big advantage.