Baseball in Cuba

Baseball in Cuba has been a cultural phenomenon for over one hundred years.


repmobrooks, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Out of the hundreds of cuban players throughout the years, only four of them have made the Hall of Fame.

The sport of baseball has been a symbol of Cuba since the Cuban revolution in the 1950s. Baseball was first introduced by students coming back from the United States in 1864. It was an immediate hit in Cuba, traveling around the country in rapid speed. A Cuban baseball league was established as early as 1878. The league eventually evolved into a Winter league for Cuban players in the Major leagues. During the Cuban revolution, Baseball became a symbol of rebellion when the Spanish rulers banned baseball so citizens would attend more bull fights as homage to their Spanish rulers.

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Known for their distinct culture, Cuba’s adopted baseball as their national sport.

Over the years, Cuba has produced some of the best baseball players in the world. Both currently and historically, as Cuba has produced 4 hall of famers. No other nation, besides the US, has produced as many Hall of Famers as Cuba. These hall of famers include Martín Dihigo, José Mendez, Tony Pérez, and Cristóbal Torriente.

Martín Dihigo, nicknamed the immortal, played in both the negro leagues and the latin american leagues from 1923-1936. He played both as a pitcher and a second baseman achieving a career 3.34 Era along with 456 career hits. He spent a year a manager and amassed a 27-19 win-loss record. He would be voted into the Hall of Fame in 1977.

José Mendez was both a right handed pitcher and a manager in the negro leagues. In his playing career, he won the negro league pennant three times and the world series once in 1924. Before the de-segregation of the MLB, most non-white players played in a league called the negro leagues. As a relatively small pitcher at 5’10, he dominated the negro leagues with his hard fast ball and deceptive curve ball. His outstanding pitching earned him a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

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There is currently a total of 27 Cuban baseball players in total in the MLB.

Tony Pérez was a second baseman for the Cincinnati reds throughout his 22 year career. Totaling over 2,700 hits and 379 home runs, he is known as one of the best Cuban born baseball players of all time. His career hit its peak during the almost 10 year stretch of the “Big Red Machine”. Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Tony Pérez were the big stars on this historic reds squad. This lineup won 2 world series titles in 1975 and 1976 beating the Red Sox in seven games and the Yankees in four games. He earned his Hall of Fame spot in 2000 and he now works as an analysis for Fox sports.

Cristóbal Torriente was a negro leagues outfields from 1912-1932. He was a pull hitter who counted up 55 total home runs and 759 hits. His career batting average was a solid .340. He won the negro national league batting title in 1920 and was a pennet winner in 1920 1921 and 1922. When he played in the cuban winter baseball league, he set the all time career batting average record at .352. He was inducted into the Hall of fame in 2006.

In recent years, cuban baseball players have dominated the league. Current players include Jorge Soler, Aroldis Chapman, Randy Arozarena, Luis Robert, and countless others. Cuban born players have created a huge impact and have been a huge part in changing the game of baseball for the better.