Dubón carrying torch for Honduras

May 26th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Brian McTaggart's Astros Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

When Mauricio Dubón was playing in center field for the first time at Minute Maid Park on Friday, he looked in the stands and saw a Honduras flag. The pride started to flow through his veins. There was no doubt who the blue and white flag represented on this day.

“Every time I see a flag, it’s because of me,” Dubón said. “That’s what makes it special, knowing that flag is out there just because of me.”

As the only Major League player who was born and raised in Honduras, Dubón is proud of his country, his heritage and the flag, and he hopes one day to inspire more from the soccer-crazed country to reach the Major Leagues.

Former Astros outfielder Gerald Young was also born in Honduras, according to Baseball Reference, but Dubón is quick to point out Young was born to American parents and raised in California. When it comes to Honduras and the Major Leagues, Dubón is carrying the torch.

“It’s a soccer country,” he said. “It’s just hard for you to get baseball stuff back home, and that’s what makes it so hard. For me, I’m just trying to make that path a little bit easier, because growing up, I never had anybody to look up and say, ‘He’s from the same country,’ and say ‘Maybe I can,’ so the dream was looking impossible. And now, with me over here, it’s a lot easier for them to say, ‘Hey, he came from here,’ and easier for me to go out there and be a role model.”

Dubón, like most kids in Honduras, played soccer growing up and says he was pretty good at it. He also fell in love with baseball.

“It just had something,” he said. “Since I was a little kid, I said I was going to play in the big leagues, too. It was something that I worked toward, that goal.”

The only Major League Baseball that Dubón was able to watch on television growing up was the Sunday Night Baseball telecast. If he was out and about with his family, he made sure to go home early to be able watch the game and dream of the big leagues.

“It was hard, but at the same time I was motivated,” said Dubón, who was traded to the Astros from the Giants earlier this month.

Dubón said the little leagues in Honduras aren’t as prevalent as they were when he was growing up, but he’s trying to change that. Each offseason, he returns to Honduras to work out and brings baseball equipment every time. He tries to grow the game at the grassroots level.

“I think more baseball players are going to come out of there,” he said. “Little kids come to work out with me and I try to keep them motivated. Just show them that it’s not impossible to get where I’m at right now. It’s showing them, ‘This guy made it; we can make it.’”

Dubón lived in Honduras, playing at each level in every league, until he was 16 years old. He caught the eye of a Christian baseball mission group that came to Honduras and saw him playing. They offered him to come play high school baseball in Sacramento, Calif., as a foreign exchange student. Dubón played two years in high school and wound up getting drafted by the Red Sox in the 26th round in 2013.

Dubón’s parents, who both still live in Honduras, sent him to a bilingual school in their native country, making the transition to the U.S. even more possible. He says Honduras is only a two-hour flight from Houston, which makes him feel even closer to a homeland he loves.

“It was crazy, leaving my country when I was 16 years old,” Dubón said. “It was always a big part of me.”