While some may say this may be fitting or ironic but on Black Friday Cuban dictator Fidel Castro died at 90 years old. As I sit back on this Thanksgiving holiday weekend I realized that this is HUGE for a lot of people. It doesn't affect me but in our world of baseball it affects many.
Did you know that more than 100 baseball players and managers or personnel defected from Cuba specifically to play this game that we all love simply because it was abolished in Cuba? You can find the list HERE. The list is not all inclusive, it does not include names of people who played outside of Cuba with permission of the Cuban government, so the impact is even more than we can see. All of these people left Cuba to pursue a dream of playing baseball.
The more I think about that idea the more thankful I am for what I have in my life. I can do what I want without seeking permission from the government or leaving my country. As I looked at the list my eye quickly found Eddy Rodriguez. He has been bounced around several minor league teams including the New York Yankees. Rodriguez was born in Cuba and escaped and was rather emotional about the news of Castro's death tweeting #castrogone! You can read more on that HERE.
Former Yankee turned MLB network analyst Mike Lowell also tweeted #freedomforcuba. Lowell was born in Puerto Rico before moving to Miami, Florida but his parents are from Cuba. Even former controversial player Jose Canseco shared his thoughts on twitter stating "Can't say I feel anything for his death. There is a reason many defected to the USA." Canseco was born in Havana in 1964, just five years after Castro came into power. His family left Cuba a year later.
In 2013 Cuba abolished the five decade ban that kept baseball out of their country with contingencies. As it tries to keep her own talent from leaving their country to play in the United States they allow them to sign contracts in other leagues like Mexico and Japan as long as they give a large amount of their salaries back to Cuba and return home to play for their home country in the future.
It is rare to see baseball and politics collide in our world but this is important. It is the history like the players of those mentioned above that show the importance of the freedom of choice and ability to pursue your dreams. It's stories like these that help make this game so great and why all of us should never take anything that we have for granted.
BYB Managing Editor
Follow me on Twitter: @NYPrincessJ