“Rey Vicente Anglada has played for and managed the Cuban national team.”

Our Cuban Baseball Cultural Exchange is geared toward American fans of the sport who are interested in seeing the island, interacting with Cubans, and learning about the history of baseball in Cuba. This tour will allow you to see how the game is being played today on the island, and you will learn about the long history of baseball in Cuba.

The history of baseball in Cuba goes back to the 1860’s. Cubans showed their distaste for colonial Spanish rule in the mid-eighteenth century by playing and attending baseball games, which the bull fighting Spanish did not appreciate. Spanish authorities outlawed baseball in Cuba in 1869, at the start of Cuba’s first war of independence. A year earlier the Havana Baseball Club had been formed in Havana. The first professional Cuban baseball league was founded in 1878, and Cuban teams toured the U.S. on several occasions during the late nineteenth century. By this time baseball had become the most popular sport in Cuba.

The first foreigner to have played in what are considered the American Major Leagues was Esteban Bellan, who was playing in the U.S. in 1860. After that there was Rafael Almeida, Adolfo De Guzman Luque, Chick Pedores, and Armando Marsans. Adolfo Luque made his Major League debut with the Boston Braves, was the first Latin American born player to pitch a shut-out, and would eventually play for Cincinnati, Brooklyn, and New York. Luque even pitched in the infamous 1919 World Series, and he was on two separate teams that won the World Series. Cubans also played in the Negro Leagues during these years, with such notable standouts as Martin Dihigo, Jose Mendez, Jose Munoz, Alejandro Oms, and Cristobal Torriente. During a series with the Cincinnati Reds in Havana in 1908, Mendez, known as the “Black Diamond,” pitched for twenty-five scoreless innings. Dihigo, Mendez, and Torriente would eventually be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Before joining the Major Leagues, both Almeida and Marsans played for the All Cubans, a racially integrated professional baseball team that toured the U.S., and played against semi professional white teams, and Negro League teams.

Other Cuban players would eventually play in the Major Leagues, including Orestes “Minnie” Minoso, Bert Campaneris, Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, Rogelio Alvarez, Rene Arocha, Tony Perez, Tony Oliva, Camilo Pascual, Luis Tiant, and in the twenty-first century we have an outstanding field of players, including Rusney Castillo, Jose Contreras, Aroldis Chapman, Yasiel Puig, Yulieski Grandal and many more. Another player to come out of Cuba was Marlin’s pitcher Jose Fernandez, 2003 National League Rookie of the Year.

Cuba is rich in baseball history, and although it was difficult for Cuban players to make it to the Major Leagues after the Cuban revolution of 1959, players from the island continued to make an impact on the game. Our Cuban Baseball Cultural Exchange Tour is a great way for any American fan of the game to see the island, and learn more about the history of baseball in Cuba. The tour includes workshops with former Cuban players and managers, visits to baseball facilities, and attendance at both amateur and professional games.

This tour is only offered during Cuba’s baseball season, from October through February.