Cuban baseball, another reason to go there

Posted: 19-Mar-16 12:04

Baseball fans in Cuba are enjoying new opportunities for reencountering their idols of all times and meeting stars from the American Major League for the first time. As political tensions between the United States and the island's government eased over the last year; Barack Obama's visit to Cuba on 22 March is bringing new expectations about the revitalisation of the baseball tradition and its attractiveness as a spectacle worth seeing in the Caribbean country.

Cuban baseball, another reason to go there

President Barack Obama has confirmed its attendance to an exhibition game between Tampa Bay, from the American MBL, and a selection of Cuban baseball stars, in which the local audience will get to see other baseball legends whose names have not been released yet.

The announcement was made by Dan Halem, head of the Legal Department at MLB, who confirmed to OnCuba that some negotiations are in course in order to enhance the experience of the game; which will take place at the Latinoamericano (Latin-American) stadium in Havana this month.

Some players who have abandoned the country over the lasts 20 years to play in the U.S. professional leagues, signing lucrative contracts in the U.S. might be back to play in their homeland once again during Obama´s official visit. Cubans are welcoming all sorts of negotiations that could rekindle some of the enthusiasm about baseball as a sport; which was currently being lost among younger generations in favour of football.

Halem and Rob Manfred, the MLB Commissioner, are well aware of the development of recent talks between Cuban and American officials, aimed at finding a way in which players in the island could be signed up with professional teams from the United States, despite the restrictions of the embargo. This policy, sustained by the White House for more than 50 years, has had a negative influence in the development of a normal exchange of talents and experiences between baseball players from both countries.

At the moment, the attorney is working on a proposal for bringing Cuban players with “special licenses” to the MLB. Nevertheless, Halem also revealed that they have not received feedback from the Office of Foreign Assets Control about it yet.

However, Obama´s historic involvement in the mentioned baseball game is a good indicator of the new opportunities that could bring about the creation of normal links between both countries’ sports entities. This could further safeguard a longstanding sporting tradition that stands as an example of some of the cultural customs that Cuban and American people have in common.

Rumors say that the president of the United States could make the first pitch of the game in Havana, but it cannot be taken for granted yet, since Halem specified that:

“...we have not discussed with the White House or with the Cuban Baseball Federation who is going to pitch the first ball.”


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