Everyone experiences a loss by death differently. For Milwaukee Brewers’ first base coach, Carlos Subero, the death of his father at the young age of 46 in 1995, sent him searching deeper into God’s Word.
“I was blessed to be born into a Christian family,” states Carlos. “My mom and dad were role models for Christ here on earth. Ever since I was out of my mother’s womb, I was a churchgoing guy. My parents taught that we are all sinners, and we can receive forgiveness and salvation through Christ who died on the Cross.”
It was the death of his father that brought Carlos to his knees to accept Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord. Carlos shares, “It was a struggle for me, but his death turned around my Christian life. I started living by grace not by works. Trying to understand why my dad passed away so young, his death opened my eyes from a person who is called “Christian” to a person who went deep into the Word of God and really started knowing God.”
Christ continues to shape Carlos’ life. “We are by no means perfect,” explains Carlos, “but we can’t make that imperfection an excuse to sin. Christ lovers that we are, we seek Him daily. There are many ways to share Christ with others, but He uses baseball to shape me and to allow me to help others.”
Carlos had been a minor league manager and coach for 17 years. He felt the Lord shaped his life as a leader for all the young guys he worked with. “I tried to put aside my desire and dream of reaching the major leagues as I tried to help these young players reach their dream of the big leagues. My hope was to witness for the Lord at the highest level of baseball; but, for 25 years as a player coach or manager, I was still in the minor leagues. Philippians 2:3 says, ‘Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself.’ It keeps a great perspective of what Christ was like and the role model that He was.”
He continues, “In 2013, I surrendered it all to the Lord to use me as He will. Three years later I got the call to become a coach in the major leagues by the Milwaukee Brewers. God uses baseball as my Christian ministry at the same time He shapes my life as a Believer.”
Marcus Hanel, bullpen catcher for the Brewers, shares, “Carlos is a guy who is very passionate about what he does. He is very diligent in making sure every player is out early and doing their work. That is the same way he is with Christ. He is diligent in wanting to lead people to follow Jesus. He has a great relationship with all the Latin players. It is a great testimony to Carlos that he has a heart for them to not only become better baseball players but to become better men of God.”
Family is very important to Carlos. His father, Carlos Subero, and his mother, Dianora Leon Subero, raised Carlos, his sisters, Diagnorah (lives in Canada) and Carolina (lives in Australia) and brother, Jean Carlo (lives in Venezuela). “As I look back, it is great to have parents who brought you to the Lord and model their faith which was huge for us kids. All of my siblings walk with the Lord.”
It has been difficult for Carlos to talk much about his father, having been a tremendous influence on Carlos, until more recently. Carlos shares about his father, “The older I get the more I see much of his character that I value. I only regret I am not able to thank him for it. The level of integrity I was taught is so high sometimes I get so sensitive (emotional) when I don’t see it on the other side (from others). He taught it and modeled it.”
His mother lives in Venezuela and is a deacon in her church. “Mom loves the Lord Immensely. Up until now she says few words, but the few words she says have a lot of wisdom. She is a person I really look up to; and, at times, I seek her advice. We have a great walk together.”
When Carlos was three years old, his family moved to Lawrence, Kansas, for his father and mother to attend Kansas University. They both earned scholarships given by the Venezuelan government. His father graduated in math and computer science. “I learned English from three years old through nine years old,” shares Carlos. “I studied at Hillcrest School in Lawrence, and I will never forget my first baseball team with the Saints in the McDonald League. We won the championship with an 18-0 record.”
The Subero family moved back to Venezuela. When Carlos enrolled in his 6th grade, the school promoted him to 7th grade because the American education he received in Kansas made it possible for the advancement. Carlos attended Gran Columbia High School in Caracas and graduated when he was 15 years old.
Carlos fell in love with his high school sweetheart. He explains the details, “I will never forget the first time I really met Vivied. It was on May 8, 1996, my father’s birthday. There was a group of neighborhood kids that walked to and from school. I never talk much with Vivied nor got along with her. Finally, her sister introduced us as she complained that Vivied (who was 13) and I (14) never talked. That was the start of our relationship. August 6 of that year we started dating.”
Carlos continues, “Vivied is the only girl I have ever been with. We are going on 31 years together. She loves the Lord, and she is active in her faith. Vivied has been a tremendous blessing to me. We have three children. Carla is 25 and married with four-year-old Carlos Miguel. After Carla graduated from high school, we started homeschooling Andrea (16) and Carlos (15). We travel altogether everywhere we go. In the off season, we attend Iglesia Evangelica Pentecostal Las Acacias in Caracas.”
The path to the major leagues was long and hard. When Carlos graduated from high school at 15 years old, he had a decision to make: go to college or play ball. His mother encouraged him to go on to college, but Carlos asked if she would give him three years to sign professionally or he will attend Central University of Venezuela. He was already accepted to the University.
“I had to practice hard before going to tryouts,” states Carlos. “I had three surgeries on my throwing elbow which set me back year after year. My mom said to me, ‘Carlos, be honest, you had three surgeries, two pins and wire in your throwing elbow. You should go to college.’ But I asked for another month and a half.” Then, on November 5, 1990, Carlos signed, at 19 years old, a free agent contract with the Kansas City Royals. He played five seasons in the minor leagues with Kansas City, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Texas Rangers. He also played a year of independent league baseball. After he decided to hang up his spikes, Carlos began coaching in the Rangers organization. Two years later he began his 15 year managerial stint. Beginning the 2016 season, Carlos finally made it to the major leagues as the first base coach and infield/baserunning coach with the Milwaukee Brewers.
“We are leaders in the position as coaches,” comments Carlos, who sees coaching as his Christian ministry. “I am a coach with few words, more action. I believe in action: give mercy when you must give mercy; put in a hard hand when you must give a hard hand (be tough when you need to be). Talk when you need to, listen when you need to. As a coach, I believe I can witness by living for the Lord on the baseball field for my players and our staff.”
Off the baseball field, Carlos witnesess through a ministry he started by himself and now has 60+ leaders. In 2003, he founded Venezuela Christian Athletes Foundation, an organization similar to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) in the United States. They use a variety of sports activities to bring kids and adults to hear the Gospel message. Carlos shares, “We have been blessed. It has been beautiful the way we get to share Christ with others. We are in all 23 states in Venezuela, having more than 60 leaders. I just got the report that said we had led more than 2500 people to the Lord in the month of June and fed more than 20,000 people. Venezuela is a country struggling right now. I use the ministry of the Venezuelan Christian Athletes Foundation to witness for Jesus in my country right now.”
When Carlos began this ministry, they partnered with Athletes in Action (AIA) when AIA brought teams to Venezuela to play ball and share their Christian faith with our players and adults. The Venezuela Christian Athletes Foundation has partnered with other sports ministries as well.
Milwaukee Brewers hitting coach, Darnell Coles, shares, “Carlos is quiet and confident and his trust in God is evident. He continues to grow
in his faith, and I see that growth every day! I love him like a brother; and through Jesus our Lord and Savior, we are brothers for eternal life!!”
Carlos continues to build his personal relationship with Christ through his study of the Word of God, the Bible, daily. “When I do conferences in Venezuela and a person may ask for spiritual advice, I suggest they read God’s Word, study it, digest it, and live it. Like it says in the book of James, ‘Be doers of the Word of God.’ I like Hebrews 4:12, ‘The Word of God is alive and active, sharper than a double-edged sword; it cuts all the way through to where soul and spirit meet…’ When you see God, it is through the His Word. We must make it a daily event to help separate us from sin.”
Steve Sonderman, chaplain for the Milwaukee Brewers, has this to say, “Carlos is one of those men that understands what it is to mentor the next generation of men. He continually encourages and motivates young men to trust Jesus with all their lives.”
Written by Bruce A. Darnall, Lake Mills, WI
Photos by Scott Paulus, Milwaukee Brewers