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By Keaton Allen
In the early days of baseball, there was a dispute over if “America’s Pastime” was born in the US or if it was based on games from overseas. We may never know the exact global DNA of the game, but we do know that the popularity of baseball has expanded across borders. With 29.8% of 2017 players being born outside of the United States, Major League Baseball is now more global than it has ever been. Dominican Republic native, and Thunderbird alumnus, Hatuey “Chuy” Mendoza '16 knows this more than anyone.
“Twenty years ago, baseball brought me to America to play this fascinating game; and every year the game brings new players to the United States,” says Chuy. "All of these baseball players come to the sport bringing with them various cultures--but with a common dream: to become a Major League Baseball player."
Since finishing his own pitching career with the Diamondbacks in 2006, Mendoza has been the D-backs' Coordinator for Latin American Operations. He focuses his time on developing new young talent in Latin America. The Diamondbacks Academy in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic, prepares young baseball players for a future baseball career and also provides high-quality education for life beyond baseball. With a growing number of teams competing for Latin American talent, the Diamondbacks sent Mendoza to Thunderbird in 2014 to gain them an advantage.
“Chuy is a role model for so many of his colleagues because of his work ethic and the incredible journey he has taken to reach his current position,” says D-backs President & CEO Derrick Hall. “The Latin American market, including his home country of the Dominican Republic, is a great place for us to find talent on the field, but it has also provided us with high-quality front office members, coaches and executive."
"To be successful in this game, you must know more than just the business of baseball; and, understanding both our culture and foreign cultures has been very valuable to Chuy and the D-backs," says Hall.
A professional baseball player isn’t who most people expect to find sitting next to them in an international business degree program. One of Chuy's classmates, Kevin Allen, remembers uncertainty about how the program would impact a baseball player.
“Within a couple of months, Chuy became everyone's favorite classmate and by graduation he outshined most of us as he absorbed all that the school offered," says Allen. "He was immediately implementing what we were learning and was sharing with us his significant results. Chuy's global transformation was amazing to behold!”
Professor Denis Leclerc, Academic Director of Thunderbird’s Executive MGM program, affirms, “Chuy’s experience illustrates perfectly what makes the Thunderbird Executive MGM program unique: a cohort of diverse executives and industries creating a truly engaging learning journey.”
“Since my graduation, I personally believe that my Thunderbird Global Mindset has become one of the most important tools to succeed in my career within the sports industry,” Chuy says.
“Thunderbird gave me the intercultural tools to communicate, coach, and lead young talent no matter where they are from. Global mindset is the difference maker.”
The Diamondbacks are having a fantastic 2017 season and are on a trajectory to have an exciting playoff run.
Hatuey Mendoza is in his 10th year as Coordinator, Latin America Operations for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He’s a husband and father of 6 children (two of whom were born while he was in school at Thunderbird!). Mendoza graduated from Thunderbird in 2016.