Congratulations to the Baltimore Orioles and to the Cuban all-star team! In their recent two-game match, these athletes-and their fans-showed that, despite the U.S. blockade, the people of both nations have much to share.
Of course, we are convinced that Cuba has the better team! They proved without a doubt that they are able to play “harder.”
The Cuban all-stars were able to avenge their 3-2, 11-inning loss, which took place on March 28 in Havana, by trouncing the Orioles 12-6 in Baltimore on May 3. Their 18 hits were the most against Baltimore since Opening Day in the majors.
The Cubans were cheered by almost all the fans at Camden Yards. And as the Cuban slugfest went on, thousands gleefully waved Cuban flags and danced in the stands.
“It was a one-sided game,” remarked Cuban manager Alfonso Urquiola. “We didn’t expect this.”
“It was very apparent they wanted it much more than we did,” said Orioles manager Ray Miller.
The daily newspapers in this country questioned how it could be that the Orioles, with a payroll of more than $78 million, were completely outplayed by a team whose players make a total of about $2250.
(The papers failed to mention that in addition to their salaries, the Cuban players get free medical care and other benefits that all Cuban families have received as matter of course since the Revolution.)
The Cuban Revolution, and indignation against the attempts of the U.S. to destroy it, is a major factor explaining why the Cubans played so hard-and with such dignity and pride-when they had a chance to compete in what Jose Marti called the “Belly of the Beast.”
It is noteworthy that the game took place at all. Cuban counterrevolutionary exile groups vowed to have it banned and, when that failed, to disrupt it.
But when one disrupter ran into the outfield, he ran into the wrong person! Cuban umpire Cesar Valdez body-slammed the intruder. Valdez explained his action by saying: “Above all, I am Cuban.”
Following the final out, the Cuban all-stars celebrated on the mound with a Cuban flag. Afterward, the teams shook hands.
That was a good game!