Andrew Toles played for the Los Angeles Dodgers just a few years ago. Talented outfielder, lots of agility, and hit the ball well. He seemed a little reticent during interviews but also seemed to be coming out of his shell. Fans took to “Tolesy”. He showed a whole lot of promise.
Except it is two and a half years since he last played in a game. He “stepped away” from the team in 2019. It all seemed odd, the news was meager, it did not make sense.
He just up and vanished?
We have since learned Andrew has struggled with mental health issues for many years. To such an extent he lost contact with his family for an extended period of time. Then news broke of an arrest last June in Florida for misdemeanor trespassing. The police listed his address as the “streets of Key West”. Seems he was sleeping behind the Federal Express building, located at the Key West International Airport. All he had with him was a black book bag. No mitt. No bat. No glove.
This youngster, in his late 20s, who played in front of many thousands of fans, who heard the cheers, who made it to the big leagues… homeless.
In effect, stranded by his own illness. Stranded on the base path of life, to be sure, with no idea where to find home plate, or the dug out, or anyone really.
Thankfully, there is some encouraging news and may be more in time: The trespass charges were dropped, and the Dodgers have renewed his contract. The team did not have to, and no one is talking much about it. Andrew is on what is called “a restricted list”. According to MLB guidelines, players can remain on the restricted list only for a period of two years, but the Dodgers and their front office have indicated they want to help in any way that they can. Toles will not receive salary, but he is going to receive something that may be at least if not even more important: Access to medical services. Word is he is receiving at least intermittent treatment for mental health challenges.
The Dodgers talk about being a family. Thank goodness they mean it.
But, wait a second: Baseball is big business right?
And baseball fans often demand their team win and win it all, not just a particular game, or series, or even the division — but the brass ring.
Well, Andrew Toles is part of a team, even though he is not on the roster. After all, we all know health and well being are bigger and more important than most everything else.
Kudos to the Dodgers. Now we all hope that Andrew Toles gets back to the playing field of life, and has many more innings not on the street, but off it, in a house with loved ones, with a life he gets back and can live well.
Play ball indeed.