Former Dodgers outfielder Andrew Toles ran into trouble with the law this past weekend, and it has allowed the family and Dodgers a chance to finally discuss what ails him.
The story of the rise and fall of Andrew Toles is one of familiarity for many people suffering through mental illness in the United States. A man of talent rises to see his success rewarded, only to have his worries, anxieties, and troubles get in the way. The man overcomes the struggles to reach a peak through the help of those around him but slips when obstacles arise.
However, in Andrew Toles’ case, the man runs the risk of being defined more by his struggles than the strength he exhibited in the face of adversity.
As we learned over the weekend, this is no longer a tale of perseverance. The former Cinderella story of Toles’ climb to the Dodgers feels like a distant memory. Now, the focus isn’t on the man he was. There will be no discussion of his contributions on the playing field or his statistics as a ballplayer. Rather, this is a discussion on rediscovering the man he needs to become.
A man who needs to admit to getting help again and regaining control of his life.
In an interview with Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Andrew Toles’ family sees his latest arrest and hospitalization as a means to an end. They weren’t focused on how quickly he could get back to the ballfield. They just wanted their son, their brother, their friend back.
“When people saw my brother’s mug shot, it was like, ‘Oh, my God! He’s been arrested. You know what my family felt? Relief,” said Morgan Toles, Andrew’s sister.
Until the point of his arrest, neither the family nor the Dodgers had seen or heard from Toles for months. His mental illness kept him on the run, in and out of clarity about who he was, where he was, or what he was doing. He bounced from homeless shelters to hotels, spanning cities and countries. All the while, the family and Dodgers maintained privacy as to Toles’ mental capacities. However, with news of his arrest creating an interest in both his well-being and health moving forward, the family knows there is another direction.
“Maybe this is how God meant for this to end. Now people know,” said Toles’ father, “People are reaching out and asking how to help.”
Help as never been the problem when it came to Andrew Toles. Since signing with the organization as a free agent in September 2015, the Dodgers have both known about his mental health issues and worked with Toles to wrestle with his demons. From player development personnel to the team’s medical director, the Dodgers have tried to put the pieces in place for him to cope and potentially overcome.
The problem has always been whether Toles was willing to accept the help he needed to battle his bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia.
After leaving the Dodgers following the 2018 season and going incommunicado, the team learned that he had crashed his car and was found incoherent in Phoenix. Medical Director Ron Porterfield flew immediately to be with Toles and help him through his struggles. It appeared to be working, the two becoming close as Porterfield built a relationship of trust and compassion with the outfielder. Unfortunately, things deteriorated shortly from there and Toles was again on the run.
With his latest arrest, the family and the Dodgers are hoping he’ll get the help he needs. Players like Justin Turner have stepped up and offered to help. The Dodgers organization is still firmly behind helping Toles in his time of need. That help is offered regardless of if he ever steps foot on a baseball diamond again. They simply want him to get the help he needs.
“I don’t particularly care if my brother plays baseball again,’’ Morgan Toles says. “I just want him to be a functioning human being in society.”
At the end of the day, that is what any fan, person, teammate, or family member wants for Andrew Toles now. They want the man to become healthy and happy, and all are willing to build a support system to help him do so. They just need him to have trust in that help is what is best for Andrew Toles moving forward.