On June 22, former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Andrew Toles was found homeless and sleeping behind a building outside the Key West Airport in Key West, Florida and subsequently arrested for trespassing. Toles was a two time MLB Draft selection and player with great potential. So what happened and how did this unfortunate series of events fall into place?
Through all the ups and downs, the climbs and the pitfalls, this is the life and career of Andrew Toles.
Alvin “Andrew” Toles was born on May 24, 1992 in Decatur, Georgia into an already athletic family. His father, Alvin Toles, was a standout linebacker for the University of Tennessee and was eventually drafted to the New Orleans Saints, where he spent four years. His mother, Vicky, played basketball at the University of New Orleans.
Andrew would eventually graduate from Sandy Creek High School in Tyrone, Georgia in 2010 and was drafted to the Florida Marlins in the fourth round. He opted not to sign (which is very common), but was the only Marlin selection in the first ten rounds to do so. Following, Toles attended his father’s alma mater, Tennessee. While at UT, Toles had a solid season with a .270 batting average with 1 homer and a 116 to 1 Put Out (PO) to Error ratio from the field before being released from the team for unknown reasons. The only comment regarding Toles’ release from the team came from head coach Dave Serrano who stated that he lacked a “certain standard of accountability”. Toles would then transfer to Chipola College, a Junior College, before again being suspended in 2012.
Despite his college troubles, Toles would be drafted again, this time in the third round to the Tampa Bay Rays, one round higher than the previous time he was selected. After just one season in Rookie ball, Toles was already making a name for himself batting .281 and being called the “Best Athlete” and “Fastest Baserunner” in the Rays organization by Baseball America, becoming a Class-A All-Star, MiLB All-Star, Rays’ Minor League Player of the Year, as well as leading the Class-A Midwest League in batting average just the next season. Following his big year, in 2014 he was pulled from two games for a ‘lack of hustle’, and days later left the team for two months for “personal reasons”. He was invited to spring training in 2015 before being released for disciplinary reasons and sat out the entire season.
Following his release from the Rays, Toles agreed to terms with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the 2016 season. Things would go up for him once again, as he made his Big League debut and what came to follow was a great season that manager Dave Roberts would call a “dream”, while he hit .314, 3 HR, and 16 RBIs in 48 games. The phenomenal play would not stop there, as he helped the Dodgers make the playoffs, eventually hitting a stellar .364 in 22 at bats.
The Dodgers would later fall to the eventual World Series Champion Chicago Cubs in the NLCS. The following year, Toles was back back with the team as the Dodgers’ 2017 Opening Day leadoff hitter. Toles went on to bat .271 with 5 home runs before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee mid way through the season. With most players, this would be the low of their career, but it would later be revealed that Andrew Toles had been battling some far worse demons.
This is where things get sad for Toles. The ‘life’ segment of Andrew’s life begins.
In a piece from The Athletic, it was revealed that the lack of hustle and behavior issues with the Rays, and possibly in college, were due to some serious mental health issues. Toles faced severe anxiety, struggled to sleep, and as we would find out later some even more serious issues. These caused Toles to show up late to practice and games, and possibly contributed to what was viewed as the “lack of effort” that manager Jared Sandberg had reasoned for pulling him in those couple of games.
What later was discovered following his release from Tampa Bay in 2015, was he actually had asked to be released. This was a decision on behalf of himself and cited the move to spend time in a mental health facility. After leaving the facility, he would end up working in the frozen-foods section of a local Georgia store before being picked up by the Dodgers. Toles would have one more stay at a mental health facility, as in 2018 he would spend two weeks at a new one and be diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
The baseball world was shocked to hear about Andrew Toles’ arrest. Many hadn’t heard what had happened in years past to Toles. Fans of Toles wondered what the people around him had done to help, where were his friends, family, or teammates, they asked.
His sister, Kent State’s assistant women’s basketball coach, Morgan Toles made no qualms about it when addressed with this: “We want to help him so badly,” she stated. “We are doing everything we can… How do you help somebody that doesn’t want to be helped?” In fact, the family has done a lot to help, even contacting the U.S. Embassy in Hong Kong because Toles had been arrested for stealing food from a gas station and imprisoned for a month at one point. The family is now trying to gain legal guardianship of him, per USA Today.
And that’s what we’re left with now. We are left with hopes that Toles receives the help he needs, hopes that he can one day play again, but most of all hopes that he can finally be at peace with himself.
Former Dodgers infielder and World Series champion said it best in a tweet after the incident occurred: “… This definitely hurts and know that [the] people that can help Tolesy have been made aware and will do their best to help.”
Photo: Ralph Freso / Associated Press