Ask a Cuban fan about the origins of baseball on the island and he will tell you that the first game was played in Matanzas, at Palmar del Junco between a team from that city and the visiting Habana Base Ball Club, in 1874. Pressed as to how there could have been a game without previous developments, he will answer that the crew of an American ship, forced to remain in Matanzas Harbor for repairs, taught Cubans the rules of the sport. The young men from Havana had learned baseball in the United States, where they had been students. If the fan is somewhat knowledgeable, he will add that many baseball players in the early years fought in the War of Independence against Spain ( 1895-98) and that some gave their lives for the fatherland. A few fans may even know that one of those pioneers of Cuban baseball, Emilio Sabourín, was arrested by the Spanish authorities for conspiring against the colonial regime and sent to the feared political prison in Ceuta, northern Africa, where he died.
Like all lore, particularly stories about origins, this account blends facts with errors, inaccuracies, and distortions. Precisely because of this, stories of beginnings have a significance that is disproportionate to the value of their factual content. Their truth lies beyond corroboration or correction. Myths of origins, therefore, have a weight and influence of their own as documents of a people's or a culture's collective bonding. The origins of