DETROIT -- Jose Iglesias and Leonys Martin have been playing professional baseball in the United States for almost a decade each, but they did so as U.S. citizens for the first time Monday.The two Tigers joined 23 other new citizens at a swearing-in ceremony at Comerica Park before Detroit's series
DETROIT -- Jose Iglesias and Leonys Martin have been playing professional baseball in the United States for almost a decade each, but they did so as U.S. citizens for the first time Monday.
The two Tigers joined 23 other new citizens at a swearing-in ceremony at Comerica Park before Detroit's series opener against the Athletics, capping a process that had them both beaming with pride in the clubhouse.
"It's a dream come true," Iglesias said before Monday's game. "I've been in the country the last 10 years. My kids were born in this country. I'm just extremely happy to be part of it."
Iglesias took his citizenship test on the morning of June 15 and traveled to Chicago, where the Tigers were playing the White Sox, to make a game-saving play at shortstop.
Iglesias, who was smuggled out of Cuba as a teenager, said he's most appreciative of the freedom he has an American to pursue his dreams.
"You have a free life," said Iglesias, whose two kids are citizens by birth. "You're able to accomplish the dreams that you actually work for, and that's what I'm happy the most about this country -- that you can make your dreams come true."
The Tigers have held a pregame citizenship ceremony every season, usually around the Fourth of July. What Iglesias hopes isn't lost on this day is everything that came before this exclamation point.
"It's hard, man," Iglesias said. "You come, you face a new culture, you're facing a new language, you're facing new food, new everything. I'm still learning. I've been here for 10 years and I'm still learning. It's a completely different atmosphere."
For Martin, part of the excitement of the day is that he no longer has to see himself as transitioning to becoming a citizen.
"Now we're going to be normal people, like a normal U.S. citizen," Martin said. "We're going to feel like we were born here in the States. It's kind of a different feeling."
Martin was also born in Cuba and took his citizenship test in the offseason. His wife, Yamira Perez, also became a citizen at the ceremony.
"It's really emotional," Martin said, "especially with being through this process for a long time. We're finally going to get it done today. It's really emotional."
Tyler Fenwick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit.