What I Gave Up To Go Pro
Adrian Cardenas | Writer + Former Chicago Cubs Player

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Biography

Adrian Cárdenas Rubio is a former American professional baseball second baseman. 

Born in Miami Lakes, Florida, he comes from what he refers to as a “liberal, vegetarian” Cuban family.

In 2006, Cardenas won the Baseball America High School Player of the Year Award.

After his graduation from high school in Miami, Adrian was a first-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Phillies.

In July of 2008, the Phillies traded Adrian to the Oakland Athletics. In February of 2012, Adrian was claimed off waivers by the Chicago Cubs and made his start as a pinch-hitter.

During his 2012 Chicago Cubs season, Adrian had 67 plate appearances in 45 games. He says of his time with the Cubs “The Cubs are my team, I think they’ll forever be my team.”

Adrian retired from baseball after the 2012 season, a decision which he easily calls his most difficult to date. He became a full-time student at NYU and wrote a piece for the New Yorker entitled “Why I Quit Major League Baseball.” He refers to publication of the piece as the official moment when he left the major leagues.

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My name is Adrian Cárdenas, I got drafted to play professional baseball at the age of 18. In 2012 I quit and now I’m a full-time student at NYU.

It was much harder than what I thought it would be because on one hand I was given a lot of money to play something that when I was 5 I wanted to do for a living, on the other hand it meant that I couldn’t go to school, I’d have to sort of put these other passions on hold.

“hey this is something I was working for my entire life, I achieved it, let’s do it.” School can be put aside for a little bit.

I was promoted to the major leagues, May 6th 2012,…I got the call….I remember like, I cried. Most people cry. If somebody was seeing it they probably thought I had a family member that died or something.

When I got to Wrigley I instantly became a Chicago Cubs fan. … it just all of a sudden it just hits you, you know, “Here’s Wrigley Field” and it’s just filled with people, filled with people and that’s sort of when it set in that I had made it, in itself.

But I think all through that what was looming is this budding passion for the arts and for the things that I was, I think I was inherently passionate about. At that same time though, I was playing baseball, so I had these competing worlds that didn’t connect at all at least at that point.

I don’t think it’s coincidence that once I started going to school I also started struggling in baseball.

NYU has this policy where any incoming freshman has to show up for at least a day at NYU in their class in order to ensure enrollment. And I’ll never forget it, the semester started in September 6th and my season ended September 5th and we’d made the playoffs right, so there was a chance that we were going to extend well past September 6th. I would have to de-enroll from the university. What the heck, what am I going to do?” and I remember, I’ll never forget it, the last day of the season, September 5th, I took the red eye without telling anyone so that they couldn’t me no, showed up to my 10 o’clock class with a professor that I still love very much and am still in great contact with, and after I was done with that class and I knew I had ensured enrollment and I flew right back for the playoffs the very next day in Sacramento, California.

With every class that I took, with every book that I read, you know, I started really tapping into that and also, you know, realizing, hey if I really want to pursue this, I need to dedicate just as much time as I did to baseball.

People might think that quitting was a whimsical decision. It wasn’t at all in fact. Quitting took almost as long as it took to get to the major leagues, twenty something years in fact.

You know, here I am making a lot of money playing baseball at 24 years old. That’s something that if you make it, you don’t quit that. It’s blasphemous to quit something like that and I just, I wasn’t happy; I had other passions that I wanted to do and I think that’s very difficult because you talk to people that are supposed to have a lot more experience than you and supposed to offer great advice, and I think the most generic answers, “don’t quit you’re going to regret it.” It took me 24 years to quit baseball.

Still too long?

My name’s Ad…

My name’s Adrian Cárdenas…

Why is the introduction the hardest thing?

Made By

Cinematography: Danielle Calodney

Audio by: Andreina Velazquez

Edited by: Danielle Calodney

Interviewed by: Isabel Castro




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