U.S. College Baseball Players to Play a Cuban Team in Havana This July

Harold FriendChief Writer IApril 10, 2012

The Great Minnie Minoso
The Great Minnie MinosoJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Almost five years ago, Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times wrote what has become a revealing article titled “Baseball Looks to Create a Possible Portal to Cuba.”

Schmidt reported that MLB was considering moving a minor league team to Cuba. There was support the creation of training academies patterned after those in the Dominican Republic.

In July, U.S. college baseball players will play in Havana’s Latino Stadium. Their opponents will be a Cuban team.

"Today is a day of happiness for baseball," said Antonio Castro, vice president of the Cuban Baseball Federation and a son of Fidel Castro.

"It is very important for the U.S. team, and for Cuba it's beyond explanation what it means to enjoy this kind of warm-up," Castro continued. "It is important for our athletes to have matches at another level of baseball."

Baseball, Cuba and the U.S. have a long relationship. The last time college players played in Cuba was 1993. In 1999, the Baltimore Orioles played a home-and-home series with Cuba. Bill Clinton, who was president at the time, helped pave the way.

Recently, another president has favored a less strict policy toward Cuba. In March 2009, Mr. Obama signed a bill that decreased some of the economic sanctions on the island. Travel restrictions on Cuban Americans were also eased.

Many Cubans have been great major leaguers. The long list includes Saturnino Orestes “Minnie” Minoso, Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, Livan Hernandez, 101-year-old Connie Marrero, Tony Oliva, future Hall of Famer Rafael Palmeiro and Hall of Famer Tony Perez.

The cooperation between MLB and Cuba is increasing rapidly. There are many great Cuban players that will be given the opportunity to make great sums of money by playing major league baseball.

Politics play a tremendous role in the world. Money plays an even greater role.