A History of Cuban Baseball, 1864–2006


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About the Book

When Cuba met Japan in the finals of Major League Baseball’s 2006 World Baseball Classic (WBC), many among the international audience were shocked that a purported “amateur” team could challenge for the sport’s first true world championship. But those who had paid attention to international tournaments were hardly surprised by Cuba’s strong showing against all-star teams of Puerto Rican, Dominican, Venezuelan, and U.S. major leaguers. The undisputed champions of global baseball, Cuba had reigned supreme for better than a half-century at the avowed American national game.
In this groundbreaking volume, Peter Bjarkman traces the full arc of island baseball history, from the pioneering era of integrated play in the winter leagues, across the many triumphs of the post-revolution decades, and up through Cuba’s initial WBC triumphs.

About the Author(s)

The late Peter C. Bjarkman was a widely recognized authority on Cuban baseball history and a frequent visitor to the island nation. A past winner of the The Sporting News–SABR and Macmillan–SABR awards for baseball research, in 2011 he appeared on the Cuba episode of the Travel Channel’s No Reservations. He was the senior baseball writer for www.BaseballdeCuba.com, the leading Cuban League website.

Bibliographic Details

Peter C. Bjarkman
Format: softcover (8.5 x 11)
Pages: 496
Bibliographic Info: 150 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014 [2007]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9382-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0675-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1
Introduction      11
Part I—The Cuban Legends
1. Martín Dihigo—Baseball’s Least-Known Hall of Famer      25
2. Adolfo Luque—The Original “Pride of Havana”      39
3. Orestes Miñoso—The Cuban Comet      52
4. The Baseball Half-Century of Conrado Marrero      63
Part II—The Cuban Leagues
5. Myths and Legends of the Cuban Professional League (1878–1961)      79
6. Cuban Blackball’s Doubleheaders on the Dark Side of the Moon      130
7. Havana as Amateur Baseball Capital of the World      151
8. Cuba’s Revolutionary Baseball (1962–2005)      234
Part III—The Cuban Legacy
9. The Myth of Fidel Castro, Barbudos Ballplayer      299
10. Tarzán, Minnie, Zorro and El Duque—Cubans in the Major Leagues      315
11. The World’s Best Unknown Ballplayers      349
12. Playing with the Enemy: Player Defections, the Orioles, and Baseball Détente      386
Part IV—Appendices and Statistical Records
Appendix A: Chronology (1866–2006)      423
Appendix B: Blackball Register      434
Appendix C: Major League Register      446
Appendix D: Statistical Records      455
Bibliography      477
Index      481

Book Reviews & Awards

  • Winner, SABR’s Robert Peterson Award for increasing public awareness of Negro League baseball
  • “Is the most complete book on the subject to date…recommended”—Choice
  • “The definitive work on Cuban baseball”—Library Journal
  • “Through this and other publications, Peter Bjarkman is doing for Cuban baseball what Ry Cooder has done for Cuban music, helping us appreciate the complexity, creativity, and emotions of a people whose culture and politics have long been intertwined with those of the United States but who have often been made invisible by social attitudes or political barriers.”—Sport Literature Association
  • “The best of a recent spate of books on Cuban baseball, in part because it is so comprehensive and thoroughly researched, but also because it avoids the pre-Revolution bias which has sullied other accounts. Elegantly written, with infectious enthusiasm, and well-illustrated too.”—The Rough Guide to Cuba
  • “Bjarkman…continues to impress with his passion for the genre”—SABR Bibliography Committee Newsletter
  • “Bjarkman’s passion for Cuban baseball is clearly evident throughout the entire work. This is a labour of love…masterful…essential…Bjarkman has compiled the most comprehensive and wide-ranging sets of Cuban Baseball stats to be found in any one publication…a valuable, comprehensive, and thoroughly enjoyable volume”—The International Journal of the History of Sport
  • A History of Cuban Baseball, 1864–2006 [is] simply the most complete work on the game as it’s played just ninety miles away across the Florida Straits.”—La Prensa del Béisbol Latino (newsletter, SABR Latino Baseball Committee)
  • “An exquisite book…Peter C. Bjarkman, an American in love with our baseball, demonstrates to his readers the beauties of Cuban amateur baseball”—Raúl Arce, Juventud Rebelde
  • “Any casual reader or serious researcher should get a copy Bjarkman’s A History of Cuban Baseball, 1864–2006 for his or her library. I doubt, with little fear of contradiction, that any other volume on the subject offers so much information so lovingly assembled”—Ron Kaplan.