By Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria
From the 1st novice leagues of the 1860s to the exploits of Livan and Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, here's the definitive heritage of baseball in Cuba. Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria expertly lines the arc of the sport, intertwining its heroes and their tales with the politics, tune, dance, and literature of the Cuban humans. What emerges is greater than a narrative of balls and moves, yet a richly exact background of Cuba informed from the original cultural perch of the baseball diamond. Filling a void created by way of Cuba's rejection of bullfighting and Spanish hegemony, baseball quick grew to become a vital sew within the complicated social textile of the island. through the early Nineteen Forties Cuba had turn into significant conduit in spreading the sport all through Latin the USA, and a proving floor for a few of the maximum expertise in all of baseball, the place white significant leaguers and Negro League gamers from the U.S. all competed at the related fields with the cream of Latin expertise. certainly, readers may be brought to numerous black ballplayers of Afro-Cuban descent who performed within the significant Leagues sooner than Jackie Robinson broke the colour barrier as soon as and for all. frequently dramatic, and continually culturally resonant, Gonzalez Echevarria's narrative expertly lays open the ambiguity of fierce Cuban independence from the U.S. with Cuba's love for our nationwide hobby. It indicates how Fidel Castro cannily linked himself with the game for patriotic p.r.--and finds that his meant baseball expertise is only legendary. in accordance with broad fundamental examine and a wealth of interviews, the colourful, frequently dramatic anecdotes and tales during this exceptional booklet contain the main accomplished historical past of Cuban baseball but released and eventually provides an essential misplaced bankruptcy to the historical past of baseball within the U.S.
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Additional resources for The Pride of Havana: A History of Cuban Baseball
The Cuban League's strong ties with the Mexican League in 194647 are clear: Dihigo, Marsans, and Luque all managed in Mexico, as did Salazar, who also played, of course. Almendares had, in Hausmann and Canizares, Torreon's double-play combination intact, and Marianao had in Carrasquel, Chanquilon Diaz, Cochihuila Valenzuela, Angel Castro, and Beto Avila a great part of Tampico. Fleitas, Almendares' catcher, caught for Monterrey. In addition, some of the most notorious American "jumpers" were in Cuba: Lanier, Gardella, Maglie, Hausmann, Martin, and Klein.
He was a right-handed hitter. Rene Monteagudo, one of the many Cubans signed by the Washington Senators in the thirties and forties, a lefty, also played the outfield (he was the property of the Phillies, however, when he left for Mexico). Behind the plate Habana had reliable Salvador Hernandez, who had caught eighty-four games for the Chicago Cubs in 1943-44 before going to Mexico. His backup was Raul Navarro, also a Cuban, who played for San Luis in the Mexican League the year before. Both hit right-handed.
On November 6 the newspapers reported the death, on the day before, of Alejandro "El Caballero" (The Gentleman) Oms, a beloved former star outfielder. Sick and destitute, Oms had just returned from abroad, perhaps from Venezuela, where he was probably still trying to play. He must have been only in his fifties when he died. Out of pity, Luque had him in the Cienfuegos roster the year before, and Oms had struck out against Fred Martin in his last at-bat in the Cuban League. A slender black from Las Villas Province, Oms was known for his exquisite manners and The Last Game 33 for never raising his voice (a truly rare virtue among Cubans), hence his nickname.