As far as professional baseball was concerned, Pawtucket Red Sox pitcher Devern Hansack was out of sight and out of mind after he was released by the Houston Astros in March of 2004, after four seasons in the minors.
Instead of giving it another shot, Hansack returned home to Pearl Lagoon, on Nicaragua’s Atlantic coast. He returned to a country nearly as poor as Haiti, which has Latin America’s lowest standard of living without much financially, anyway, to show for his time as an athlete in the United States.
Hansack changed careers and went to work with a brother-in-law as a lobster fisherman.
“From the beginning, I was disappointed about (being released) and said I’m not going to play baseball any more,” said Hansack. “I was finished. My brother-in-law and I put out some lobster traps. We had almost 600 and were going to fish. I didn’t want to give that up at the time.”
At one time, giving up baseball was something Hansack wouldn’t even contemplate. He started playing the game when he was eight. But baseball in a town like Pearl Lagoon, though, is unlike baseball in most American communities.
“From the beginning I loved baseball and always wanted to try and be the best,” he said. “We used to make gloves out of cardboard. Sometimes older guys would lend us their gloves but you didn’t see that very much. Sometimes we used sock balls so you could catch it with your bare hands.”
Hansack and many of his friends invariably played in their bare feet.
“I remember getting my first cleats when I was about 12,” he recalled. “It didn’t matter. We just wanted to play.”
Hansack, who’s from a family of 10, grew up in a house located outside the center field fence of the field in Pearl Lagoon. Obviously, he was a known commodity because after he was released by Houston, he received several calls from teams on the Pacific Coast asking him to pitch in the Nicaraguan Winter League.
“They kept calling me but I told them I’m not into that