By Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria
From the 1st beginner leagues of the 1860s to the exploits of Livan and Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, this is the definitive historical past of baseball in Cuba. Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria expertly strains the arc of the sport, intertwining its heroes and their tales with the politics, track, dance, and literature of the Cuban humans. What emerges is greater than a narrative of balls and moves, yet a richly specific historical past of Cuba instructed 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 very important sew within the advanced social cloth of the island. through the early Forties Cuba had develop into significant conduit in spreading the sport all through Latin the United States, and a proving floor for the various maximum expertise in all of baseball, the place white significant leaguers and Negro League gamers from the U.S. all competed at the comparable 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. usually dramatic, and regularly culturally resonant, Gonzalez Echevarria's narrative expertly lays open the anomaly 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 unearths that his intended baseball expertise is solely legendary. in keeping with wide fundamental learn and a wealth of interviews, the colourful, frequently dramatic anecdotes and tales during this wonderful booklet include the main complete heritage of Cuban baseball but released and eventually provides an important misplaced bankruptcy to the background of baseball within the U.S.
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Extra info for The Pride of Havana: A History of Cuban Baseball
Half-packed bags lay all around; Lanier had reservations for a night flight back to Florida and to his family in St. Petersburg, no matter what the outcome that afternoon. He would leave mourning or celebrating to others. Lanier's baseball season had been crucial for more important reasons than a mere game in a foreign land. It had taken him not merely outside Organized Baseball but also away from the United States. As one of the most notorious "jumpers" from the major leagues to the Mexican League, back home Lanier was something of a traitor.
But the last week of the championship had turned into sheer agony for the legions of Habanistas, who had within their grasp a decisive defeat of their bitter enemies. Almendares fans, on the other hand, had become used to winning in the early forties to midforties (as recently as 1944-45). Purchased by a group of wealthy sportsmen representing the prestigious Vedado Tennis Club and led by Dr. July Sanguily, scion of a patrician family, the Blues thought of themselves as the class of the Cuban League.
At the beginning of the 1946-47 Cuban League season the best Latin American players were affiliated with Mexican teams and went to Havana for the winter. Most were making more money that way than many players in the majors and far more than they could hope to earn in the minors. Organized baseball was not only in danger of losing its own stars, but also the increasingly abundant Latin pool, particularly rich now that Latin blacks (such as Orestes Minoso) would be allowed to sign with major-league teams.