After I retired from baseball for the first time in 1997 and before I returned to the Pirates in 2001, I worked as a pitching coach for the Expos back home in the Dominican Republic. That's when I was first exposed to various baseball academies.
I was in Santo Domingo, but I visited other academies, too. That's when I realized that a lot of teams need a place to develop the players, a complex that had more than one field to use and a place for the players to stay. I decided I would like to build a baseball complex for just that purpose.
So we got started on our own project a few years ago, and just last January we finished what is called the Towers Baseball Complex.
Texas has rented the complex for seven years, and plans are underway to build a second complex adjacent to the initial one. Nowadays, the way baseball is developing, especially in the Dominican, the more investment a Major League team puts into developing players, the better the return will be.
Plus, the young Dominican players deserve a better place to learn and play the game. My complex helps give them a chance to work out in a professional environment.
I wanted those players to have a place where they could grow not only physically but mentally as well. That's how I really got interested in building the academy. Hopefully, there will be many more to come. I think it really benefits both Major League Baseball and the Dominican players.
There have been a lot of great players to come out of that area. I could go on forever, but George Bell, Alfredo Griffin, Jose Offerman, Armando Benitez, Sammy Sosa and Juan Samuel are some, and the list goes on and on.
One of the big inspirations for me was to build an academy in San Pedro de Macoris. It's the first Major League establishment close to my town. George Bell has one, but it's almost two hours away.
So now I'm very happy that Pittsburgh talked me out of retirement. It has given me the opportunity to pursue building the academy, and it gives me the opportunity to support my family. And being Dominican, that means help not only for my kids and wife but also for my nephews, aunts, cousins and everyone else who might need some help.
Baseball gives me the opportunity to do all that and more. I'm very glad that the Pirates gave me a second chance.
Salomon Torres has been involved in professional baseball since 1990, when he signed with the San Francisco Giants. He has played for a number of teams since but has been with the Pirates since 2002 after a four-year layoff from the game. He led the Majors with 94 appearances in 2006, tying Kent Tekulve for the team record.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.