Thursday, March 25, 2010

21. Fidel Castro

* A Fidel Castro card IS for sale by following the "Buy Now" link below this article or by going to the "Fidel Castro Baseball Card tab below this blog's header. The card is different then the one shown to the left and the one for sale can be seen by going to the "Fidel Castro Baseball Card tab below this blog's header....

Before anyone even starts with me, let me state categorically, I think Fidel Castro is a scumbag dictator and murderer, this card is not meant to glorify him in any way, shape or form.

One of the most enduring baseball legends is the often told story that if only Fidel Castro's fastball had just a little bit more stuff on it, he would have played for the Washington Senators and the whole Cuban Revolution would have been different. The fact of the matter is that Castro was just a mediocre athlete in high school and though he did pitch, did so only as a means to show his dominance over others. He was by most reports a far more superior basketball player and actually did not care much for baseball. He did try out for his college team at the University of Havana but did not come close to making even the JV squad. Back in the forties when Castro was in college, scouts from the Washington Senators scoured the island looking for anyone with an ounce of talent and signed them to contracts so they could fill the spots vacated by American players drafted into the service. The Senators and their farm teams during the war were filled with Spanish speaking players so if Castro had any bit of talent chances are he would have been signed by the Senators. But like everything else during a Communist dictatorship the truth is hard to come by and after the Cuban Revolution and Castro's rise to complete power his baseball career has taken on a life of its own, some due to the usual communist propaganda and some of it due to players stretching the truth in order to make a good story. And I gotta say, as a history buff, it is tempting to believe that fate of an entire country hinged on how fast a single college student could throw a little leather ball. The following is the truth behind Castro's alleged baseball career and the origin of the myth of him pitching in the Cuban League.

On July 24, 1959 before a regular game between the Havana Sugar Kings and Rochester Red Wings, Fidel Castro took the mound for the aptly named Los Barbudos team (The Bearded Ones). Castro’s team played a two inning exhibition against a team from the Military Police. The police team pitcher, Camilo Cienfuegos wisely joined the Barbudos team saying “I never oppose Fidel in anything, including baseball.” 25,000 screaming fans watched El Jefe pitch both innings, striking out two and grounding out to shortstop in his only at bat. This was extent of Castro’s baseball career which Cuban propaganda has greatly exaggerated. The most common lie is that the Washington Senators were scouting the young Fidel when he was a hot-shot right handed pitcher for the University of Havana team. Not only were scouts uninterested in him but he didn’t even make the University of Havana baseball team.

1 comment:

  1. I have seen a photo of Fidel Castro in a Washington Senators uniform and it was not doctored. That photo now seems impossible to find and I suspect that some hidden hand has removed this photo from public view and knowledge.