The Pride of Havana: A History of Cuban Baseball

By Roberto González Echevarría | Go to book overview
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The Great Amateur Era

Where did all those baseball players who swelled the Cuban League come from? How and where did they develop? Baseball cannot be learned quickly because it demands finesse instead of brute force. Catching a fly ball, let alone a grounder, and throwing accurately are difficult skills to master. Some have claimed that hitting a moving ball with a round bat is the hardest thing to do in sports. So these players had to have been nurtured in practice and competition through a process that took years. It is a measure of how ingrained baseball was in Cuban life by the beginning of this century that little kids of all races learned to throw, catch, and hit early. There were organized teams and leagues for boys and adolescents, and both private and public schools sometimes had teams or intramural competition. But most of the baseball played by boys was unstructured. The immediate sources of talent for the Cuban League were the semiprofessional teams and leagues, sugarmill baseball, and the amateur leagues (which also included teams and tournaments in the armed forces).

Although I will cover all three in this chapter, when I write "amateur" I mean specifically the game played by social clubs who played in the Amateur League. The original teams represented the exclusive social clubs in the Havana area, such as the Vedado Tennis Club. But this league eventually included teams sponsored by business concerns and even a sugarmill


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