Sergio Molinar: A Comeback Story to Remember in New Mexico

By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications

Sergio Molinar is lucky to be alive.  Literally.  Sergio plays for MSBL in New Mexico and is fortunate to continue to make that claim.  Why the gloom in a lead-in?  First of all, he will be the first one to tell you how lucky he is.  Secondly, try this on for size: cancer hit and he spent three years bedridden!  Yes, three years.  Then he contracted covid while in the hospital during the height of the pandemic.  He had a four-month-old son when all of this hit in 2019 and Sebastian has just turned four so he can now play with him like a full-throttle dad.  Sergio will be 43 in September and was 39 when his world turned upside down.  That’s too darn young.

The warm, fuzzy spoiler alert is that Sergio is back on the field again and just started playing and coaching his Dodger team.  It is full steam ahead to a full recovery and many more trips to Arizona for the MSBL World Series.

So, I will detour here slightly to fill in some blanks and share the amazing story that Sergio the warrior conveyed to me.

“I had been playing in a local Mexican League since 1993 and came into the New Mexico MSBL in 2006.  I have been a shortstop all of my life and still love playing there.”

To address the elephant in the room, I asked Sergio to convey his early days after being diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma, the same blood cancer contracted by major leaguers Carlos Carrasco and Liam Hendriks.

“In March of 2019 my son had just turned four months old,” explained Sergio.  “My Mom noticed that I couldn’t carry Sebastian for very long and that I was losing weight.  I couldn’t finish talking without gasping for air so she knew something was wrong.

I finally saw the doctor and said that I couldn’t breathe.  They found that my left lung was full of fluid.  My father drove me to the hospital to have the fluid drained. The doctor said before he took the fluid out that he wanted to perform some other tests.  Then he told me I had cancer.  I thought the doctor made a mistake and had the wrong room.

My father and sisters broke down in the room and then the doctor said they had to transport me downtown to be treated.  That was a pretty horrible day.”

Sergio went to the oncology department at the hospital and the first question he asked is what caused it.  The doctor said that he will never get the answer to that question, though everyone asks, but that chemotherapy is critical so let’s get started.

“They performed a biopsy to study me.  I was in the hospital for five or six days but I couldn’t see my son.  That was really tough.  They let me go home until I got the results and it ended up stage four so it was critical.  I spent seven weeks in the hospital and ended up getting Covid while there.

I Took chemo for six weeks in the first round and they said I would be very weak.  I was prepared for it but didn’t really feel too bad.  I drove myself to all of the sessions and home again.”

I am sure we have all had family members or friends who have gone through similar issues so I don’t want to drag you much further into the blow-by-blow accounting but I promise there is a happy ending.  But one event stands out as a potential knockout blow if Sergio would have let it be.  I’ll let him explain.

“The oncologist suggested I start chemo to my brain in case the cancer started to spread.  It would be administered through spinal injections.  They said it would cause a massive headache for 24 hours, but after 48 hours nothing happened yet, so I thought I was home free.  He didn’t hit his mark in the first injection and had to do it again.

I went to a soccer match a couple of days later and then the migraine hit like a train.  I couldn’t get out of bed for two weeks because of the first missed shot.  I had horrible pain in my lower back and I thought my head would explode.  I couldn’t move.”

Sergio told me it took a year and a half to try to get things settled and every six months had to go back for four sessions of chemo.  He has been mostly bedridden for nearly four years because of this.  Then he decided that his life had to change.

“On my son’s birthday, November 9th of 2022, I was bedridden and still had no energy from cancer, treatments for cancer, and covid.  My son was now four years old and I said ‘enough is enough’ and thought it is time to get up.  I am missing out on my son’s growing up and I need to be able to keep up with him.  I wasn’t even thinking about baseball then.”

So how did mental toughness translate to actually solving the energy and muscle atrophy problems?

“I started with imaging exercises because I was too weak to actually use weights.  I mimicked lifting like I was lifting a barbell or lifting a dumbbell, sort of like playing an air guitar!  I started doing basic exercises, like jumping jacks, crunches, and pushups.  I was starting to think I could play again, though not at the level I am used to, but my son motivates me and I am going to get to the other side of this for my family.  They deserve a complete husband and father.

I manage the Dodgers now more than play but that is only temporary.  Just last week I got my first hit!  This is only a few months after laying in bed and watching my son play without me.  There was no time to waste laying there an hour longer.  I have a passion for life and for the game I love and I take my preparation seriously.”

In 2015 Sergio played in the tough 25-over division of the MSBL World Series in Arizona.  He would never tell you himself, but Sergio at his best is a real talent roaming the six-hole and a true difference-maker.  They managed to beat the very tough Rosebuds team to move on in the playoffs, though falling short of the ring.  His goal is to play again in that top division and reverse the fortunes.  I have no doubt he will.

Sergio has been married to Grisela for eleven years and Sebastian rounds out their now happy family.  Though 2015 provided many happy baseball memories in Arizona, does anything other than the Rosebud victory stand out?

“I can’t forget a funny incident at Maryvale Stadium, home of the Brewers.  We were playing a night game and there was a huge cloud of gnats about 20 feet up that was driving everyone crazy. Well, a pitcher threw one inside to me and I smashed it.  I know a home run when I see one, so I started jogging to first but the gnats actually slowed the ball down and it bounced up against the fence!  I’ll never take a homer for granted again!

Any final words?

Bryan (Deshayes) does a great job running our league.  I know it has been a struggle locally to get teams, umpires, and fields, but it has been very enjoyable with Bryan in charge.  I’m a big supporter of Bryan and the league and want to help recruit players in New Mexico and give something back.  Bryan is a wonderful gentleman and has been very supportive during this bad period for me and my family.  My parents and sisters have also been very supportive.  It’s all about family, family, family.”

In closing, Sergio wanted to make sure I enclosed his final thought.

“The people around you are just as important as the medicine you are given.” SM