Cuba Baseball

Pelota (ball) is its local name and baseball is the name that we know it by. For many Cubans, it is the only sport.

Cuba

In Cuba, baseball is the first and foremost of sports. It was the sport which the government dictator, Fidel Castro played at college and is the sport of which his son, Antonio (Tony) Castro, is doctor for the national team. Antonio Castro has also been one of the vice presidents of the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), the sport's governing body, since December 2009.

Since his stepping down from power, Fidel Castro has turned his attentions to blogging and writing reports about government and world powers along with baseball texts where he has proven that he has an excellent knowledge and judgement of the game.

The history of baseball in Cuba goes back a century and a half as students returning from the U.S. brought the game back with them and then American sailors docking at Cuban ports would challenge the locals to a game or two. Little could they know at the time what an influence they would be making on the Caribbean country.

Cuba

Cuban baseball players can only play for the province in which they were born, giving an unfair advantage to Havana. But Havana has 2 teams the Industriales and the Metropolitanos and a third which covers the province, La Habana.

Just a few of the important players in the history of Cuban baseball include:

  • Adolfo (Dolf) Luque - pitched for 22 years
  • Alexei Ramírez - member of Cuba's 2004 Olympic gold winning team and one of the few Cubans to make the U.S. major league directly after training
  • Aroldis Chapman - one of the youngest Cuban players to defect
  • Esteban Bellan - first Cuban and Latin American baseball player to play in the U.S. major league
  • Isabel Álvarez - youngest player to join All American Girls Professional Baseball league, joined the Estrellas Cubanas (Cuban Stars) at age 13
  • José Contreras - 3 time Cuban Athlete of the Year
  • Martín Dihigo - an incredible pitcher and one of the best and most versatile players in his day (1920s-1940s)
  • Orlando (El Duque) Hernández - member of Cuba's 1992 Olympic gold winning team and half brother of pitcher, Liván Hern ández
  • Rafael Almeida - 1 of first 10 players elected to Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939 and one of first U.S. major league players

Cuba

Since inaugurated as an Olympic sport in 1992, Cuba has won the gold medal for baseball in 1992, 1996 and 2004. The country picked up silver in 2000 and 2008 and will be unable to collect any further medals for the event until 2020 when it is expected to return to the summer Olympics.

Estadio Latinoamericano in Havana is where you can see the Metropolitanos play between October and April, before the start of the play-offs. Originally built in 1946, the stadium was renovated in 1971 to increase its capacity to 56,000.

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