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How Juan Carlos Oviedo became “Leo Nunez”

Oct 3, 2011, 9:40 AM EDT

leo nunez getty Getty Images

Old Gator brought my attention to a good story from yesterday’s Miami Herald, detailing how the pitcher we all know as Leo Nunez — but who is in fact Juan Carlos Oviedo — was able to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes for so long. Part of it is just the normal anonymity of a teenager:

One way Oviedo managed to keep his identity secret so long: Nobody in town ever knew his real name in the first place. The player’s nickname is “C.D.,” and most people here, even men who played ball with him, profess to never knowing his actual name. In fact, in this city of 125,000 people, the player the media refers to as “the pitcher formerly known as “Leo Núñez” is still known as Leo Núñez.

But the bigger part of it is how even the people who knew the truth didn’t feel at all compelled to let anyone know Oviedo’s real identity. About how baseball routinely takes advantage of teenagers with baseball promise in the Dominican Republic and how when, on occasion, the players themselves try to turn the tables, it’s not seen as fraud so much as it’s seen as someone fighting for any chance they can get in a system designed to chew up young ballplayers and spit them out.

  1. paperlions - Oct 3, 2011 at 10:10 AM

    I agree with the last sentiment.

    Lying to talented teenagers from poor families = just business

    Using a false identity to improve your chances of making a living in baseball (even though you still have to perform to make that money) = heinous crime

    • mox19380 - Oct 3, 2011 at 10:31 AM

      couldn’t agree more. Taking advantage of poor people from under privileged areas for profit is a time honored practice. Taking advantage of scouts should be just as honored a practice, because in the end lying to a MLB club about your age or name has little effect on the team whereas the positive and negative effects on the family and player are often life changing

      • skids003 - Oct 3, 2011 at 1:58 PM

        Yeah, you really got to feel sorry for these people, they come up here and make millions playing a game for aliving. Your bleeding hearts kill me.

      • Old Gator - Oct 3, 2011 at 3:21 PM

        The appropriately handled “skids” of course misses the point – misses it? He isn’t even aware there’s a point orbiting somewhere around that alleged brain full of bile of his. I’ll state it explicitly, just on the chance that there’s another correspondent out there as utterly clueless as skids: there are hundreds of thousands of impoverished kids on those Caribbean islands and in northern Latin American who don’t get the chance to make millions because the system exploits and abuses them. Those are the ones we worry about, not the infinitesimally small percentage of them who somehow beat the system and make it up here.

        Was that distinction too complicated for you?

        Bet it was.

    • pappymax - Oct 3, 2011 at 4:53 PM

      I find this interesting am open to understanding more, but I don’t see that there is a system causing kids to not get a chance to make millions. It seems the system is about getting a piece of the millions that are made by the few – market style.

  2. bigleagues - Oct 3, 2011 at 11:02 AM

    Mi verdadero nombre es Ted Ortega, también conocido como “Juanny Grandes Ligas”.

  3. aaronmoreno - Oct 3, 2011 at 11:32 AM

    Teams seem to have less of a problem with lies about age and names when the players are good. Weird.

  4. cur68 - Oct 3, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    Eh bien, puisque ‘ligues vient nettoyer je vais aussi; mon vrai nom n’est pas” cur68 “. Je n’est même pas actu “El Gaucho” Milona68. Il est “hound o incertaines pedigree 1968″.

    Please don’t hate me for deceiving you *hangs head in shame*

    • bigleagues - Oct 3, 2011 at 11:50 AM

      LOL!

  5. APBA Guy - Oct 3, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    Good case in point is Miguel Tejada, who was in fact 2 years older than what he’d originally claimed. I don’t recall him missing a day of playing time, and he also got a 6 year, $ 72M deal from the Orioles after his A’s years were over.

  6. kiwicricket - Oct 3, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    This is all part of Gator’s first step to revealing HIS true identity. No longer shall he be cast as the learned ambidextrous, Chia smoothy drinker from Macondo.

    My money – Bass player from The ‘James Gang’.

    • bigleagues - Oct 3, 2011 at 12:04 PM

      I can only hope that is true!

      Perhaps we can finally find out what the hell Funk #49 is named after.

      I’ve contended for a long time that it was named after the odor coming out of Ron Guidry’s locker.

      • kiwicricket - Oct 3, 2011 at 12:42 PM

        Black Keys did a cover of that song.
        -Amazing.

    • Old Gator - Oct 3, 2011 at 12:14 PM

      More like from Kiss. As in, “my ass.”

      • kiwicricket - Oct 3, 2011 at 12:44 PM

        Kiss is too distasteful for a man of your particular palate, Gator. Stop trying to throw us off the scent.

      • Old Gator - Oct 3, 2011 at 5:59 PM

        I don’t know about distasteful. I’d be tempted to say ridiculous, but having read Plato extensively, I do understand that “The Ridiculous” is probably more of a determining power in the universe than “The Good.”

  7. bigleagues - Oct 3, 2011 at 11:57 AM

    Thankfully this wanton deception is only limited to players seeking to play professionally and has yet to tarnish the integrity of the amateur ranks.

    Disclaimer: above statement is, in fact, dripping with sarcasm.

    • Old Gator - Oct 3, 2011 at 6:02 PM

      According to Plato, “The Sarcastic” is also a powerful force for ambiguity in the universe.

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