Hartsock: Dayton Dragons manager Luis Bolivar joins ‘new team’

Playing Major League baseball is the dream of a lot of little boys who grow up in Venezuela. Work hard enough to get signed by a team in the United States, and end up as a big league star.

Luis Bolivar got to two thirds of that right. The Dragons first-year manager never made it to the majors, but Thursday he joined a new team when he became a United States citizen.

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“Everything started in 2004 when I got married,” Bolivar said. “I applied for my green card and this year that was about to expire so I decided to take the next step and become a U.S. citizen.”

Luis and his wife Kelly met during the 2004 season when he noticed her in the stands at a Dragons game. The Bolivars got married later that year and are the proud parents of four children.

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“I’ve been here for a long time, my kids are here and my wife wanted me to do it but she left it up to me to make the final decision,” he said. “I think it’s best for my family and my career and I love being here.”

Bolivar admitted it’s not an easy process to become a U.S. citizen. He left his team on the road in Bowling Green, Kentucky earlier this season and drove to Cincinnati for an interview, then drove back to Bowling Green for the game that night.

Dragons first-base coach Luis Bolivar and his family: Zoey (front). Second row: Daughter Luisa, Luis holding son Enzo, wife Kelly and daughter Kamryn. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / Nicholas Studios

Then last, but not least, was the test that he spent two months studying for.

“They gave me a 100-question questionnaire and they pick ten questions out of those 100,” Bolivar said. “You have to correctly answer six of those questions and I’m glad I studied as much as I did.”

The Dragons manager took the oath with several other newly minted U.S. citizens at the federal courthouse downtown Thursday afternoon. When the crowd of spectators erupted in cheers, Bolivar was surprised to see his entire team and coaches were part of the ovation.

“It was very nice for them and it was kind of emotional for me…it was like ‘wow’,” he said. “It just made me feel so good to get support from everybody here.”

There was another standing ovation for Luis at Fifth Third Field on Thursday night when it was announced to the crowd that Bolivar was a new U.S. citizen.

“It means a lot,” he said. “To come here and be an American now…I’m very, very proud to be an American.”

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