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Marlins closer revealed true identity because it was his dying father’s final wish

Sep 24, 2011, 9:51 PM EDT

nunez getty Getty Images

Marlins closer Leo Nunez was sent back to the Dominican Republic on Thursday and placed on Major League Baseball’s restricted list after it was revealed that he had been pitching under a fake identity since his arrival in the United States.

The right-hander’s real name is Juan Carlos Oviedo, and he’s one year older than his listed age of 28.

But now more details have emerged, and the story has suddenly taken a kind of heartwarming turn. If illegal activities can be considered heartwarming.

According to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, Oviedo actually did the revealing himself — admitting the longtime fraud to authorities on September 7 at the dying request of his father, who passed away around the beginning of spring training.

It doesn’t change the fact that Oviedo committed a crime. And he’s obviously going to have to pay for that, perhaps even at the expense of his baseball career. But he wasn’t caught, and probably wouldn’t have ever been caught had he not turned himself in. Maybe that will help his case. Or at least keep the Marlins’ organization on his side as the Dominican and U.S. decision-makers consider repercussions.

  1. Old Gator - Sep 24, 2011 at 10:24 PM

    So he waited how many months to grant his father’s dying wish – a wish that would wreck his career? Boy, I’ve heard of tough love, but this is ridiculous. It’s like the Dominican sequel to Cien Años de Soledad. Soon we’re going to find out that Leo…uh….Juan Carlos’ father had changed his name when he was a teenager to avoid settling his debt with the Devil.

    • purnellmeagrejr - Sep 25, 2011 at 7:43 AM

      I come expecting to see jokes about a “Player to be name later” and I get a Gabriel Garcia MArquez reference in Spanish no less.. HBT seems to be frequented by smarter folks than appear on news boards.

      • Old Gator - Sep 25, 2011 at 2:43 PM

        Too bad that’s not saying a lot. I like to preen as much as the next guy.

  2. raysfan1 - Sep 24, 2011 at 10:55 PM

    Okay, he entered the country illegally. That’s hardly a unique story. Perhaps the Marlins have a minor beef in that contracts are partly based on the player’s age. However, I’d think, after the paying of fines and filing for visas legally this time, he could be back next year.

    • ignorantwretch - Sep 25, 2011 at 8:51 AM

      Really? You are way out of line. Your comment is not long for this board and I hope they ban you.

      • Drew Silva - Sep 25, 2011 at 11:56 AM

        Deleted that comment. Sorry, guys.

      • Old Gator - Sep 25, 2011 at 2:48 PM

        Heh – that’s funny. Purnellmeagrejr comes on here to complement us for being smarter than the simians and knuckledraggers who post on the news boards, and then we get some idiot right off the American Spectator forum.

      • raysfan1 - Sep 25, 2011 at 10:04 PM

        Thank you!

    • raysfan1 - Sep 25, 2011 at 11:47 AM

      Thanks for the jingoistic idiocy. Try remembering that every one of us in this country (excepting full-blooded native americans) are only here because we or an ancestor immigrated here, many of them illegally. Most of those people you just denigrated are hardworking, good people who just want to be a part of a country where success is based on effort and talent, and not on a genetic lottery.

      • Old Gator - Sep 25, 2011 at 4:41 PM

        Even “native” Americans hoofed it over here from Siberia across the Bering land bridge. Unfortunately, there are no mammoths, camels, Baluchatheres or dire beavers left to tell the tale.

      • raysfan1 - Sep 25, 2011 at 10:02 PM

        True. Some of my own ancestors were among them. (Another got sent here as punishment by the English crown. Just your typical American mutt.)

      • Old Gator - Sep 25, 2011 at 11:09 PM

        This Irish guy goes to the Australian consulate in Dublin to get an immigration application. The consular secretary helps him fill the papers out. Name? Date of Birth? Nationality? And so forth. Finally they get to the question, do you have a criminal record? Why no, says the Irish guy. Do I still need one?

  3. jaypot23 - Sep 24, 2011 at 10:59 PM

    Can I still call him Leo?

  4. Maxa - Sep 24, 2011 at 11:06 PM

    It’s not clear to me why someone would make this their dying wish to their son.

    • Drew Silva - Sep 24, 2011 at 11:28 PM

      To honor the family name. I get it.

    • raysfan1 - Sep 24, 2011 at 11:33 PM

      Undoubtedly his father wanted him to stand up, be who he is, and live as a man of integrity and stop living a lie. I certainly respect that. What I don’t understand is why that would be “perhaps even at the expense of his baseball career,” as Drew wrote.

      • Drew Silva - Sep 25, 2011 at 12:03 AM

        Maybe it won’t threaten his career. But MLB, or the Dominican, or the US could try to make an example out of him. If he’s made to take a year off or something, that won’t help either.

      • raysfan1 - Sep 25, 2011 at 11:53 AM

        Drew, yes I can see MLB or the gov’t here making an example of him, but it’d be an overreaction against a relatively minor offense (my opinion). I really doubt the Dom. Rep. will do anything unless he’s defaulted on taxes or something there.

  5. shimazuyoshihiro - Sep 24, 2011 at 11:14 PM

    So he used a fake name, what’s the big deal?

    • cur68 - Sep 24, 2011 at 11:34 PM

      Depends why he adopted an alias in the first place. Perhaps he did something a mite wrong under his real name. Most of us don’t need to adopt an alias. That being said, I knew a guy who grew up “Harry Arsenault” (which in French is pronounced “Are-sen-oh”.) who changed his. All I have to say is that kids can be cruel sometimes.

      • Francisco (FC) - Sep 26, 2011 at 9:42 AM

        Riiiight, knew a guy… So your real name’s Harry?

    • The Baseball Idiot - Sep 25, 2011 at 4:12 AM

      As Drew said, he committed a crime. It’s against the law.

  6. gallaghedj311 - Sep 24, 2011 at 11:28 PM

    Really Maxa? I can’t imagine any parent celebrating their child having success at this level under a fake name.

  7. yankeesgameday - Sep 25, 2011 at 12:01 AM

    I don’t understand the need for the lie in the first place. The age difference wad not significant.

    • Drew Silva - Sep 25, 2011 at 12:05 AM

      Spencer’s article suggests there was a marketing aspect to it. “Leo Nunez” rolls off the tongue a bit more smoothly than “Juan Carlos Oviedo,” I guess.

      • Maxa - Sep 25, 2011 at 12:29 AM

        If that was really the reason, then it wasn’t much of a lie at all. After all, we don’t think of movie stars or singers who assume more marketable names as being dishonest.

    • Drew Silva - Sep 25, 2011 at 12:40 AM

      Very different situations. He provided false information on immigration documents. Not a light matter these days.

      • Old Gator - Sep 25, 2011 at 11:07 PM

        Especially when he unwittingly crossed the border in a panel van made of fiberweed.

    • henryd3rd - Sep 25, 2011 at 7:41 PM

      The difference was about $300,000.00 because of his age

  8. hittfamily - Sep 25, 2011 at 12:21 AM

    I played college ball after steroids became popular, but a few years before Canseco blew the lid. I confessed to my dad that I seriously considering trying the stuff. I told him about 2/3 of the guys freely admitted to it, and asked what did he think about it. I justified it, and asked “if you had the chance to make millions compared to thousands, what would you do”?

    I justified it that way. There wasnt a chance in hell I ever thought I would play mlb ball, But pro ball.., all it took was one scout……

    Keep in mind, all of this was before Canseco’s book. It was 2000.

    “These guys could make the majors and get paid majors money. If you were in there shoes, you’d do the same thing”

    “No. Absolutelouy not. I had the opportunity, and I said no” Dad was a fisheries direstor nwith the state. I had no idea. I do now, not because of his comment, but because I am aware of polotics.”

    I grew up middle class. However, I lived below poverty level for 2 years. I lost a job, and life was rough. With 2 kids, there wasn’t anything I woulld’d do. Legally I mean. I was no drug dealer, but I have mowed a lot of lawns, and felt lucky to do them.

    If you have ever lived in poverty, you will do about anything to get out of it,

    My father made me who I am. Far from a narcissist, I am a a survivor. One thing I can guarantee I would do: illegally immigrate to another country. Leo Nunez, bro, no doubt!

    • hittfamily - Sep 25, 2011 at 12:54 AM

      Blew the lid.

      seriously was considering.

      Edit function. Craig Says say what you mean, and that is why there is no edit function. Sometimes you say too much, yet not enough.

  9. bmoreballers - Sep 25, 2011 at 1:00 AM

    I don’t really blame him, Leo Nunez is a smooth name

  10. oregonbravesfan - Sep 25, 2011 at 2:00 AM

    Jairo Asencio (formerly known as Luis Valdez) pitched for Atlanta under a false name last year, so this is hardly uncharted territory.

    • gammagammahey - Sep 25, 2011 at 2:58 AM

      And the Giants called Jerome Williams “Jeremy” for two whole years.

  11. steve7921 - Sep 25, 2011 at 7:46 AM

    and the Fox announcers called the PawSox, the Red Sox yesterday….

  12. purnellmeagrejr - Sep 25, 2011 at 7:47 AM

    My guess is that this will get straightened out with no serious impact on his career. If he had a plus 6.00 ERA; now that would be a different story.

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