Friday, December 18, 2015
PLAYERS ARRIVE IN CUBA... KERSHAW PLAYS CATCH
I'm completely fascinated by this Cuba story. Players arrived early on the 15th for their Goodwill tour. One of my favorite stories so far coming out of that was of Clayton Kershaw.
The group is scheduled to participate in children's clinics and charity events, including making a stop at Friends of Carita Cubana. One unexpected moment came on the evening of the 15th when Kershaw decided to keep up with his routine, and take Jose Cruz out back behind the Hotel Nacional, and play catch.
It seems like a lot of 'nothing' but it is a big moment for the people of Cuba that do not usually get to see Major League players going through their exercises. We get spoiled when we go to games, and watch the warm-ups. To be treated with the opportunity to see Kershaw and the nation's most iconic hotel was a big event for them. Cruz said he that could hear people weeping (HERE).
"It was a bit surreal. It was beautiful," Cruz said. This is a signal of the hope that there will soon be a change for the people of Cuban. The chance to not only witness Major League talent but maybe one day join them without defecting. It would be wonderful. Kershaw seemed to not only understand but embrace the trip. He said:
"It kind of put it in perspective, how important baseball is here. Just the passion that the Cuban people have for baseball, and then maybe the significance of this trip too.
They keep saying 'Baseball's the way of life,' but you don't really know what that means. Then you come here and you kind of understand. It's so important, and it's so new, too, this whole trip and what the people here can experience and what we as players can do. It's just such new territory for us. I think the excitement of being here is infectious."
Baseball is a big part of Cuba's culture. As much as it is for most of Latino America. USA Today had a short piece about the history of baseball in Cuba. Starting with the sport being brought back to the island in 1864, Esteban 'Steve' Bellan becoming the first Latin American player in U.S. baseball, and having held spring training for the New York Giants in 1937, and the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1941, 1942 and 1947. It's a great read.
I'm excited to learn about what else our Major league players are doing in Cuba. MLB is looking to have at least two spring training games in Cuba this March. There may be a lot more baseball going to Cuba in the years to come. If the MLB could make the finances work, and the ballparks are in good condition, it's entirely possible to see some regular season games in Cuba. And that is exciting for baseball, and for Cuba.
--Erica Morales BYB Senior Writer
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