February 8, 2023


Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Adrian Gonzalez is back as a Mariachi and a hopeful Olympian

Adrian Gonzalez is coming back to baseball, for the chance to win a medal.

The five-time all-star announced Tuesday that he had signed with the expansion Guadalajara Mariachis of the Mexican League, giving the new team a marquee attraction and giving Gonzalez a place to train in anticipation of representing Mexico in this summer’s Olympic Games.

Mexico is one of four countries that have qualified for the six-team Olympic baseball field, along with Israel, South Korea and host Japan. The United States is among the 12 countries set for last-chance qualifying tournaments to determine the other two spots.

Gonzalez has represented Mexico in youth competition, the Caribbean World Series, and the World Baseball Classic. To him, that leaves only the Olympics.

“If I can accomplish those four, that’s like the grand slam of representing Mexico,” he said. “That is the only reason I have not retired yet.”

Gonzalez turns 39 in May. The first baseman was a star player with the Dodgers, San Diego Padres and Boston Red Sox during a 15-year major league career. He last played in a major league game in 2018, for the New York Mets.

Since then, he said, he has turned down offers of minor league contracts. No team on the West Coast offered one, he said, and he preferred to spend time with his family in California rather than spend six weeks at spring training in Florida with no assurance of making a major league roster.

He has explored business opportunities, and he plans to help the Mariachis with marketing their team in the United States even beyond this year. He expects to retire from baseball after the Olympics, and after that would like to pursue a broadcasting career.

In Tokyo, baseball will return to the Olympics for the first time since 2008. The International Olympic Committee voted to cut baseball, citing the sport’s lack of popularity in wide areas of the world and the refusal of Major League Baseball to interrupt its season so the world’s best players could compete in the Olympics.

MLB responded by launching the World Baseball Classic, staged before the start of the major league season. Gonzalez has represented Mexico in all four WBC tournaments. In the Olympics, Mexico is a first-time qualifier.

The IOC now classifies baseball as a “demonstration sport,” so local organizers and the IOC must agree to include it in any given year. Baseball is not included on the program for the 2024 Paris Olympics, but it is included on the program for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.