From the day baseball was brought to Cuba baseball has changed the Caribbean. While some reports claim that American sailors brought baseball to Cuba in June of 1866, others report that baseball was brought by a Cuban national who was educated in the United States in 1864. (PBS) No matter what the date, Cuba was hooked on this new sport. By the late 1890s, baseball had reached Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic due to Cubans leaving their home island during the Ten Years War. The spread of baseball in the Caribbean can be credited to U.S. occupation in those countries that led to servicemen playing the game while locals watched and learned the intricacies of the popular American sport. (Guerra 2)
In Cuba, sports have always been a huge part of culture. Baseball’s presence was strengthened when it was banned by the Spanish oppressors in 1869 in favor of bullfighting. Cubans played baseball as an expression of freedom. The ban also pushed Cubans to join Major League Baseball (MLB) teams. The Cuban League existed from 1878-1961 and received enough attention to become a league used for player development during the offseason by the MLB in 1947. From 1891-1959 The American Series pitted Cuban teams versus American teams. After the revolution in Cuba, baseba...
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...rs who do make it in the MLB, it is hurt by the numerous amounts of children who do not make it and are left with nothing but their small signing bonus.
Young Latin American players are seen as profit rather than people. One might compare the mistreatment of young players for money to slavery. A Japanese corporation that has no affiliation with professional baseball attempted to set up a baseball academy “to produce players for sale on the world market.” (543) Even Fidel Castro expressed interest in exporting his star Cuban baseball players to the United States for profit rather than watching them defect. The exploitation of young players for profit has become a major concern pertaining to baseball in the Caribbean.
A recent story of a Cuban baseball player struggling to defect from Cuban in hopes of a bigger payday in the United States is the story of Yasiel Puig.
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