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Dubón gives back -- and pays it forward

Leading hurricane relief, first Honduran MLBer a giant in his country
@mi_guardado
November 25, 2020

Mauricio Dubón wears No. 1 on the back of his Giants jersey, a nod to his improbable journey to the Majors. When the 26-year-old infielder/outfielder debuted with the Brewers last year, he became the first player who was born and raised in Honduras to play in the big leagues. Dubón

Mauricio Dubón wears No. 1 on the back of his Giants jersey, a nod to his improbable journey to the Majors. When the 26-year-old infielder/outfielder debuted with the Brewers last year, he became the first player who was born and raised in Honduras to play in the big leagues.

Dubón moved to the United States at 15 as a foreign-exchange student to pursue his dream of becoming a professional baseball player, but he remains firmly rooted in Honduras. He returns to his native country each offseason to visit friends and family and give back to his community, a mission he felt even more acutely after two hurricanes -- Eta and Iota -- devastated Honduras within weeks of each other this month.

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Dubón flew into his hometown of San Pedro Sula the day before Hurricane Eta made landfall on Nov. 3 and witnessed the torrent of rain the Category 4 storm inflicted in Honduras, a Central American country with a population of more than 9 million people that was already facing high levels of poverty and inequality. The damage caused by the natural disasters, coupled with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, created a humanitarian crisis, prompting Dubón to step in and help those in need.

“We knew it was going to be bad,” Dubón said in a phone interview. “We saw nobody was helping out here, and then we just decided that we needed to do something. Honduran people have a saying over here: El pueblo salva al pueblo, meaning the people save the people. The authorities are not doing anything, and it's been really bad, so we decided to just take it upon ourselves.”

Dubón organized a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to help hurricane victims in Honduras and is using the funds to purchase basic supplies like non-perishable food, bottled water, personal hygiene products, clothes and face masks. He and his wife, Nancy, whom he married on Saturday, go on supply runs to local supermarkets and personally deliver the aid to shelters and neighborhoods that were hit hard by the storms.

Dubón said he is also hoping to buy mattresses, beds and refrigerators for families who lost their homes in the ensuing floods. He has raised more than $19,000 to date, with president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, manager Gabe Kapler and other Giants teammates contributing donations.

Dubón isn’t seeking publicity for his efforts, but his newfound fame has made anonymity harder to come by.

“I hate taking pictures when I do that,” Dubón said. “It's funny, because when I was doing that and out buying, I was trying to go like incognito and then somebody recognized me because I have a tattoo on the leg. Somebody recognized me and took a picture of me. Kind of like TMZ, but in Honduras. It went viral here, and then people started realizing I was helping out. People got the word around and everybody started trying to help out.”

Philanthropy is nothing new for Dubón, who has also participated in a charity softball tournament in San Pedro Sula that raises awareness and funds for pediatric cancer. Last winter, the event raised $15,000, up from $200 in its inaugural year.

The tournament won’t be held this year due to the pandemic, but Dubón remains committed to using his platform to give back to his homeland and help promote the sport he loves. He has emerged as an ambassador for baseball in Honduras, which is better known for producing soccer players than ballplayers, and regularly donates equipment to make the sport more accessible for kids.

Dubón hopes his growing profile will not only inspire other kids to play baseball but also help develop the necessary infrastructure to support a new wave of Honduran talent within the game.

“It’s important, because we didn’t have anybody from here,” Dubón said. “So for me, being that person and being the model is really huge because you don’t want to be the only one. You want more people to come from here and have the same success I'm having right now. For me to teach them that I came from the same place these guys are coming from, it’s really special. I just want to transmit that positive energy and tell them, ‘Hey, if I can do it, you guys can do it, too.’”

#GivingTuesday returns
The Giants Community Fund, Warriors Foundation, A’s Community Fund, Sharks Foundation, Quakes Foundation and 49ers Foundation are coming together for a special #BayAreaUnite version of #GivingTuesday. The funds from this donation campaign will support each team’s foundation and their efforts in serving youth in the local communities.

Donations made to the Giants Community Fund will help support the Junior Giants, a free, non-competitive and coed baseball and softball program for local youth ages 5-18. #GivingTuesday runs Dec. 1-4, with more information coming about how to participate.

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.