Jhonatan Solano: The Mystery Of The Onion Truck

DC Sports Nexus ---- Thursday, July 12, 2012

In 2005 (and still lasting to this day), the border between Venezuela and Colombia was a warzone.  Colombia was filled with kidnapping, people trafficking, drugs, and killings. The violence was out of control and the border was unsafe.

The 1,300+ mile border that separates the neighboring countries was extremely dangerous, but it didn’t stop Colombians from trying to escape their treacherous home country.  Estimates in 2005 had anywhere from 300,000 to 3,000,000 Colombian refugees crossing to the Venezuelan side of the border (Behn).

One particular Colombian who made his way through that warzone and into Venezuela was Jhonatan Solano, the current backup catcher for the Washington Nationals.  Solano crossed the dangerous border in search of a career as a baseball player in 2005 and finally achieved that dream in 2012.

Solano follows in the footsteps of All-Star Edgar Renteria, the first Major Leaguer from the city of Barranquilla where Jhonatan (& Shakira) grew up.  However, unlike Renteria, Solano took a rather interesting route to the Majors.

The exact details of the story are not all known.  Solano claims it is a “long story” and hasn’t gone into much detail about the ordeal.  The gist of the tale is that Solano crossed over from Colombia to Venezuela in the back of a produce truck to attend a baseball tryout in Venezuela.  The Nats signed him in September of 2005 to a minor league deal.

The trip on the back of a truck filled with onions led to Jhonatan Solano gaining the nickname of “The Onion”.  But what really happened on that journey?  Was it as simple as getting in the back of a truck and joyriding through an ongoing warzone casually arriving at a baseball field and soon after heading to the United States?  That is one “long story” I would like to find out about…

Colombia info in 1st 2 paragraphs source: Colombian violence spills over; Rebels pursue refugees fleeing killings, kidnap into Venezuela." The Washington Times.  September 20, 2005.

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