The Pride of Havana: A History of Cuban Baseball

By Roberto González Echevarría | Go to book overview
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The Age of Gold

The 1949-50 season marked the beginning of a decade of stability in the Cuban League that was like no other before in its long history but that led, ironically, to its demise with the advent of the revolution. The period is framed by two victories that rekindled the nationalism that had prevailed in Cuban baseball since the days of Almendares' victory over a Fe team made up of black Americans, since Méndez's shutouts of Cincinnati, Torriente's homers against the New York Giants, and since the triumphs in the Amateur World Series. The first was the already reported win in the inaugural Caribbean Series; the last, the Cuban Sugar Kings' capture of the 1959 Little World Series against the Minneapolis Millers. The Gran Stadium in Havana was the stage for both. The Little World Series, played to full houses that included a triumphant Fidel Castro, took place less than a year after the revolutionary takeover. The nationalist fervor brought such support to the Sugar Kings that it seemed to herald the coming of majorleague baseball to Havana, the dream of Cuban entrepreneurs since the late forties. It was instead the last hurrah of Cuban professional baseball, in a reversal of epic dimensions and, for many players, tragic consequences.

The pact with Organized Baseball, together with postwar prosperity and the growth of Havana into a major, modern tourist center, secured the Cuban League's position as the premier circuit in Latin America. The fifties

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