The Cuban Game, #3

Posted by Ellen

This is the only baseball we saw in Havana, in a dead end cul de sac with boarded-up windows and no cars parked or passing through. Everywhere else we went in this big, densely populated city, airborne baseballs would not have been appreciated.

At least in part for this reason, soccer is more popular than baseball among children playing in city streets and sidewalks, and European and Latin American soccer is widely followed. But baseball has been played professionally in Cuba since the 1870s, long before the United States was ever involved in the country. Even back then, we're told, baseball had an anticolonial significance, played in lieu of sports such as bullfighting imported from Spain.

Castro famously encouraged baseball as a source of revolutionary and nationalistic pride. In recent years, Cuban baseball teams have played exhibition games against U.S. major league teams, and the Cubans win about half the time.