Adolf Hitler was nearly an artist before he got rejected from art school. Dolph Lundgren has a master's degree in chemical engineering but chose to go into direct-to-DVD action movies instead. And they're not the only ones; somewhere, there's an alternate reality completely different from ours, where the following people went with their first career choice (for better or worse).
5Fidel Castro: Major League Baseball Pitcher
Fidel Castro's passion for baseball is often seen as just another dictator's eccentricity, like Hitler's love for Disney characters or Saddam Hussein's romance-novel-writing hobby. Actually, it was much more than that: Not only did the human embodiment of international communism play the most American of sports in his youth, but he was close to moving to the U.S. and pitching for the Giants.
"Play ball! I mean, uh, power to the people and stuff ..."
Back in the 1940s, Cuba was just a sunny little country with a U.S.-backed government, and Fidel Castro was just a student at the University of Havana who loved baseball. Castro was a pitcher for the university's baseball team, and he threw such a great curveball that Major League Baseball teams began sending scouts to check him out. The Pittsburgh Pirates even sent a few of their players to test out the young pitcher, which resulted in Castro striking out future Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg.
In 1949, the then New York Giants offered Castro a juicy contract that included a $5,000 signing bonus to come play baseball in the United States. Castro was already politically active and critical of U.S. imperialism at this time ... and yet he still took several days to think over the offer, consulting with his friends and family about what he should do. Eventually he turned down the contract, which took the Giants completely by surprise: Apparently, he was the first Latin American to say no to them.
"Thanks, but being a communist dictator pays pretty well, too, it turns out."
Ten years after turning the Giants down, Castro had overthrown Cuba's U.S.-backed government and was ruling the country himself. As we mentioned, he was already into Marxism while in college, but seriously, who wasn't? The main difference is that instead of putting Che Guevara on his T-shirts, Castro actually went on to hang out with the guy.
Our point being: There's a chance Castro would have said yes. Without him, or with a leader who was less charismatic, less stubborn and less impossible to kill, the Cuban Revolution would have failed and the Cold War would have unfolded differently. Keep in mind that the closest the world has come to a nuclear war happened when the Soviets thought it would be a good idea to put missiles in Castro's Cuba. In fact, some have pointed out that the successful resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis is what emboldened the U.S. to jump into the Vietnam War.
"We're on a roll; what's the worst that could happen?"