Baseball in Cuba
As you probably know, baseball is the national sport of Cuba. It's played by kids in schools and in the streets. We saw a game played inside the cloverleaf of the on-ramp to a major highway in Havana -- no backstop or fences, just a field with foot-worn base paths, and we wondered how these kids would retrieve a ball hit out to the highway.
Cubans love to talk baseball. The Esquina Caliente, or Hot Corner of Havana's Parque Central, is where many fans, old timers, younger kids (and baseball tourists) meet every day to talk baseball.
A highlight of the tour was a visit to Cruces, the hometown of Martin Dihigo, considered to be Cuba's greatest player. We met Dihigo's son, a former farmhand for Cincinnati and teammate of Tony Perez and Pete Rose, and visited Martin's gravesite. Martin Dihigo (1905-71) played from 1922 to 1950 in the Negro, Cuban and Mexican Leagues as a pitcher and a fielder, playing most positions, and is thought to have had one of the best throwing arms of any player in history. He is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame (1977), Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame (1951) and the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame. The only other Cuban-born members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame are Tony Perez and early 20th-century pitcher Jose Mendes.
We also visited Conrado Marrero, at 100 the oldest living former major league player, in his home in Havana. Marrero pitched for the Washington Senators from 1950-54 and was selected to the American League All-Star Team in 1951.
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