The Pride of Havana: A History of Cuban Baseball

By Roberto González Echevarría | Go to book overview
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The statistical history of Cuban baseball lies buried in newspapers and magazines dating back to the 1860s. I have plumbed it as much as necessary and possible, but a good deal of it was beyond my reach and purposes. Much of that numerical record is crumbling into dust because of the inadequate current conditions that prevail in Cuba's National Library. A substantial part can be culled from collections in the United States and elsewhere, a task that would take a team of trained researchers several years of toil. Charles Monfort, an independent archivist and collector in Miami and a good friend, put at my disposal the fruits of his considerable efforts to cull and classify the material, which were invaluable in checking last-minute details.

Current books on Cuban baseball history are labors of love by amateurs in the original sense of the term. Being one myself and sharing similar motivations, I celebrate their existence. The Anecdotario del baseball cubano is particularly revealing about the lore as well as the shape of the game's history in the memory of Cubans. The same is true of Angel Torres' La historia del béisbol cubano, Jorge Figueredo Pelota cubana: momentos estelares, and Gustavo Tápanes' two Catálogo de postalitas de peloteros cubanos. Torres' latest book, La leyenda del béisbol cubano, which is full of useful raw information, arrived late at my desk, but I was still able to profit from it. The biographies of Luis Tiant and Orestes Mifioso are, on the whole, quite poor, and those of Americans, such as Tom Lasorda, who played in Cuba, hardly worth consulting. Statistics on today's baseball in Cuba are copious and reliable, though the publications are sometimes difficult to obtain. Very little of any worth has been published in Cuba about prerevolutionary baseball. The most comprehensive effort is Viva y en juego, but it is marred and limited by political propaganda. Estrellas del béisbol is a much better book, in spite of the cant, because it affords rare glimpses into the lives of players in postrevolutionary Cuba. The recent biography of Martin Dihigo , El Inmortal del Béisbol ( 1998), contains much unprocessed but useful data and interesting accounts by people who knew him. It is, however, saturated with propaganda and written in a rhetoric to match, down to the point of lamenting that Dihigo, though presumably a leftist, did not master Marxist-Leninist doctrine well enough to probe deeply into Cuba's social and political ills. I hear of collectors and

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