Cuban baseball before it became another tool of the state
As we hear Senator Rubio call on President Trump to reject the new MLB proposal with the Castro regime, we remember that professional baseball began in Cuba this month in 1878.
This is what Senator Rubio said:
"Legality of recent agreement between MLB & Cuban Baseball Federation rests on Obama era ruling that federation not controlled by Cuban govt. This is not just factually incorrect it is a farce & I am working to get it overruled as soon as possible," he tweeted.
Cuban Baseball Federation not controlled by the communist regime? What were they thinking during the Obama administration? Everything in Cuba, and specially baseball, is run by the state.
Back to history, the first professional game was between Habana and Almendares, the two teams that would be great rivals until Castro dissolved the league after the 1960-61 season.
The league had four teams in the 1950s: Habana, Almendares, Marianao, and Cienfuegos.
It was great and passionate baseball.
My parents tell me stories of how they used to pick up the games on radio in the interior of Cuba: Ciego De Avila for my mom and Sagua La Grande for my father.
The good news is that they were huge baseball fans.
The bad news is that my mom was a fan of Habana and my father Almendares. That's like Yankees versus Red Sox! In my parents' case, baseball opposites indeed attracted: they got married, and three more baseball fans came into the world.
Along the way, many major-leaguers played winter ball in Cuba, from Willie Mays to Brooks Robinson. It was a great stop for young players looking to crack the major line-up the next season.
Havana was also a AAA franchise, the Havana Sugar Kings in the Cincinnati organization. Havana played in the International League with other teams in Montreal and Toronto.
We remember Cuban baseball before it became a tool of the communist regime.